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The Arts
06.25.08

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Lighten Up: 'The best way to deal with darkness is humor,' says Swami Beyondananda. His Mirthfulness appears this Saturday at the Pacific Cultural Center.

Cosmic Joker

Swami Beyondananda travels to Santa Cruz in a bid to cure electile dysfunction.

By Craig Gawlick


Carnac the Magnificent he's not. Johnny Carson's late-night creation and Steve Bhaerman's alter ego Swami Beyondananda may share a similar style of headgear, but Swami takes a more pragmatic approach to predictions. "Swami doesn't make predictions," says the turbaned one. "He doesn't want to jeopardize his nonprophet status." It is the goal of the swami, according to his website, to have "peoples of the world laughing together, instead of crying separately." He aims to inch a little closer to that goal, one chuckling enlightenee at a time, at Pacific Cultural Center this Saturday.

Swami's sensibilities and humor spring from taking a step back from the tedious and tragic events of the day and laughing at them. His paradoxical notions on the world at large, along with spiritually minded political commentary sprinkled with bons mots ("The chief cause of disillusionment is illusionment!"), have become popular on the comedy circuit, as well as on college campuses and at corporate conferences.

Bhaerman's life pre-Swami included starting an alternative high school in Washington, D.C., and writing a book about the experience. He also co-founded Pathways magazine in Michigan, one of the first publications bringing together holistic health, personal growth, spirituality and politics. The Swami was a regular comedy feature in Pathways, which helped launch Bhaerman's career as the cosmic comic.

His humor has been captured in four books, the most recent being Swami for Precedent: A 7-Step Plan to Heal the Body Politic and Cure Electile Dysfunction, and he has a nationally syndicated spoof advice column, "Ask the Swami."

The Swami's slant is described by Bhaerman as "spiritual political humor with a global sensibility." Says Bhaerman, "There is a level of responsibility to being a human. People don't want to look down the rabbit hole, because it might be scary. The best way to deal with the darkness is humor." Part of that humor may include the Swami channeling Bullwinkle (yes, that Bullwinkle), his self-proclaimed spiritual guide.

Along with the Swami, this event will feature as MC local denizen Richard Stockton, whose own Planet Cruz Comedy Hour straddles the same comedy-commentary fence, albeit with a less global slant.

Also at the show will be Matthew Alexander, University of North Carolina Medical Center professor and psychologist by day, singer songwriter extraordinaire by night. Alexander has opened for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Bonnie Raitt, and he and Bhaerman have been friends and performed together for nearly 30 years. They will join forces once again and utilize their improv backgrounds as the Foreverly Brothers in a comical musical finale to the evening.

Come for an evening of cerebrally strange humor and stay for the gently hilarious honesty, or as the Swami would say, "The truth will upset you free!"


AN EVENING OF COSMIC COMEDY AND MELODIC HARMONY is Saturday, June 28, at 7:30pm at the Pacific Cultural Center, 1307 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20 adv/$25 door, available at Gateway Books, 831.429.9600 or online at www.wakeuplaughing.com.


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