Turning 30 is no joke. You're painfully aware of the passage of time, as new aches and pains start to pop up in a body that could easily handle a fun night out just a few short years ago. Learning to laugh it off helps, though.
For this month's Laugh for a Cause, local comedian and producer Jessica De La Garza is celebrating the milestone birthday of her cousin, Cristal Escutia, who regularly helps out behind the scenes of the show. Whether you are turning 30, several years from it or way past it, the show Saturday night at the Back Door Bar promises to be a good time.
"Without giving away too much of the surprises, there will be birthday decorations," De La Garza said. "I might jump out of a cake. I'm just kidding, I will not be jumping out of a cake."
The show features seven comedians hailing from Bakersfield and beyond. As with all Laugh for a Cause shows, a portion of the proceeds will go to a local nonprofit. This month, it will benefit the Epilepsy Society of Kern County.
Headlining the show is Luz Pazos, who is originally from Peru and now lives in Los Angeles.
"You do not want to miss the chance to see this talented comedian," De La Garza said. "Her comedy is bold and empowering. She does not hesitate to talk to the crowd. You're in for a real treat with Luz."
The six other comedians are: Shelly Howls, a local comedian with a "surprisingly blunt" style; Erick Downing, a local comedian who is "high-energy and hilarious"; Minnie Perez, from Fresno, whose comedy "packs quite a punch"; Cammie Syprasert, from Tulare, whose style is self-deprecating; Dana Turner, a comedian from Fresno; and John Brickley, originally from Minneapolis and currently living in Los Angeles. Priscilla McNamara will once again host.
As with previous shows, De La Garza sought to create a diverse line-up. In a male-dominated industry, she said, it's important to hear everyone's story.
"We all have different cultures, viewpoints and humor, and this is a way for all of us to understand each other," she said. "Representation matters. I can't stress enough how important it is. Sometimes in a smaller city, we don't see the representation. I am so proud to have a Latina woman headlining this show."
Another aspect of the shows De La Garza is proud of is its ability to give back to the community. The Epilepsy Society of Kern County came to her attention by a friend who has a family member with epilepsy.
Not only does each month's nonprofit get 15 percent of the show's proceeds (and 100 percent of any donations), it also benefits from the exposure De La Garza gives it at local farmers markets, where she regularly has a booth to promote the show. This month, De La Garza and Escutia handed out pamphlets on the Epilepsy Society in 100-degree weather.
"I tell organizations now, 'let me advocate for you,'" De La Garza said. "'During the month, I am highlighting you; let me hand out your flyers and tell people about your organization.' That face-to-face contact at the farmers market is so important."
Turnout at the monthly comedy show has just gotten better and better since it started in February, De La Garza said. Many people have been attending since the first show.
De La Garza encouraged anyone looking for something fun to do to come out on Saturday night.
"One of the benefits of choosing this show is it supports a local cause. All of the people involved in the show love what they do. These are our passions and that is what makes the show great."