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Friday, December 18, 2015

Marga Gomez's New Year's Eve Comedy Fiesta Highlights Latino Talent

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Chris Storin, Baruch Porras-Hernandez, Marga Gomez, Lydia Popovich - ANASTACIA POWERS CUELLAR
  • Anastacia Powers Cuellar
  • Chris Storin, Baruch Porras-Hernandez, Marga Gomez, Lydia Popovich

Marga Gomez loves New Year’s Eve.

“My parents were entertainers,” Gomez tells SF Weekly. “My mother would always dance on New Year’s Eve. She was a belly-dancer. My father would always stay home with me and he would sneak me liquor. I was like eight or nine or 10. He’d give me a little tiny glass. Kids love hard cider ‘cause it tastes like soda, and I’m sure there’s a low-alcohol content. I’d put all my dolls around we’d have a pretend New Year’s party and have a countdown.”

Her doll-playing days are (probably) long behind her, but Gomez still throws a party on New Year’s Eve. This year, for the fourth Dec. 31 in a row, Gomez’s Comedy Fiesta will take over the Brava Theater, this time with five fellow Latino comics.

“There’s a special interest for giving voice to people who are underrepresented,” Gomez says. “I sort of started doing these shows for them, and thought cause we’re in the Mission, it’d be great to have an all-Latino lineup. I just kind of picked my favorite people that I know and that the audience would love.”

click to enlarge Marga Gomez - ANASTACIA POWERS CUELLAR
  • Anastacia Powers Cuellar
  • Marga Gomez
Considering the political climate for the demographically shifting, post-Props-F-and-I Mission, and the ever-intensifying anti-Latino racism in the Republican primary, it’s easy to look at 2015 as a pretty shitty year, albeit one with plenty of comic fodder. But Gomez might just leave it be.

“I think the fact that we are here and we are able to use humor to deflect the rhetoric is enough of a statement,” she says. “The Republicans, they’re troubling but they’re also really ridiculous. I think at this point we’re all tired of talking about Trump. You can’t make this shit up!”

She isn’t overly weighed down by the Mission’s woes or the spectacle of two Cuban-American GOP senators “trying to out-racist each other,” and refers to her show as “comic relief.” But she’s not especially looking forward to 2016, either.

“Maybe things will be better?” she asks herself, rhetorically. “We know it’s going to be another fucked-up year. But for one night, we can delude ourselves. We can just pretend it’ll all be all right.”

Gomez is Brava’s artist-in-residence, a title she holds proudly, working with the 30-year-old institution’s programming far beyond its original mission of putting more women on stage or staging productions like Mighty Real and ’57 Chevy. For the New Year’s Eve show, she booked a half-gay, half-straight lineup, and gushes with kind words for everybody: Baruch Porras-Hernandez (“super-charismatic, and someone who makes things happen”), Lydia Popovich (“a really strong, kickass woman”), Chris Storin “a home boy who sounds like he’s going to plow the fields, or plow somebody”), Betty Pazmiño (“she’s called La Home Girl of the Mission. She’s got a great heart and a great spirit.”), and Monica Palacios (Gomez's ex-girlfriend, with whom "it's exciting to reunite.")

Solid lineup though it is, this New Year’s Eve is a party, not a show that people are expected to skedaddle from as soon as it’s over. After the show, the 400-seat theater’s lobby will be full of old-school party hats and Champagne toasts until well after midnight. (Plus “there’s a big long intermission where everybody drinks more,” Gomez says.)

To maintain control over all this in the event of a rowdy crowd, Gomez carefully opted to be the host, not the headliner. That way she can be the bouncer, if necessary.

“New Year’s audiences are known for getting drunk and heckling and puking,” Gomez says. “Our audience, there’s a full bar and they like to drink up and all that, but they like content that’s meaningful and clever.”

“They’re there for the show,” she adds. “They’re not just there to get laid. Well, I hope they get laid. I never get laid.”

Brava's Fourth Annual New Year's Eve Comedy Fiesta, Thursday, Dec. 31, 9 p.m. - 1 a.m., $35-$50, at the Brava Theater,  2781 24th Street.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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