With the country still smarting from red-vs.-blue antagonisms, what better way to release post-election stress than by laughing it out with Marga Gomez? The renowned lesbian comic and self-proclaimed chick magnet revisits Berkeley's La Peña this weekend. In addition to her election licks, the hilarious Gomez offers sneak previews of her completely revised off-Broadway-bound show Los Big Names. "2004 was the year I made my national television debut," she quips. "I was a Latina extra at the Republican convention. 'Yo quiero Bush!' Those brown people at the RNC were all actors. Now you know." Gomez doesn't do much stand-up comedy in the Bay Area, so this will be her "annual deal." The last time she performed at La Peña, the footage appeared in the documentary Laughing Matters. "Somebody brought a baby to the show," she reports. "It was as if she had been sent by my archrival. She'd be absolutely quiet until the punch line; then she'd wail, gurgle, and weep, throwing off my timing. I had to deal with the baby and address the comedy show she's going to uncover in years of therapy sessions later in her life."
Acknowledging her liberal roots, Gomez reveals, "Canvassing door to door is harder in Brooklyn than Ohio. Nobody opens the door here. We've resorted to home invasion for Kerry. We break in, tie the family up, and read them Kerry's plan for health care: We don't want your money. We don't your jewelry. We just want your votes. Vote for Kerry and nobody gets hurt."
Though Gomez first workshopped Los Big Names here in February before taking it to the Kennedy Center, she's redoing it, trying new characters and scenes that may eventually make it into the finished product. Expect material that focuses on herself as a child in New York raised by the Lucy and Ricky of the day, a Latino vaudeville-circuit impresario and his dancer wife.
Marga Gomez' Deep Tissue Comedy plays Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. The Saturday show is followed by a 9 p.m. benefit dance for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, featuring DJs Trilce and Jo. 510-849-2568 or www.lapena.org-- Jason Victor Serinus
Leo No Mo'
If the name Tobias Wolff automatically brings to mind images of Leonardo DiCaprio -- who portrayed an adolescent Wolff in the autobiographical film This Boy's Life -- then Word for Word is out to scrub that cerebellum clean. For the touring Stories by Tobias Wolff, the acclaimed Bay Area theater company brings to life two tales of just deserts: "In the Garden of North American Martyrs," depicting an English teacher who is taken for granted one time too many; and "Bullet in the Brain," wherein a cynical book critic gets what's coming to him. The show runs Saturday at 8 p.m. in Le Fevre Theatre on Saint Mary's College campus, 1928 Saint Mary's Rd., Moraga. Tickets cost $20, or $19 for seniors, $10 for students. Info: 925-631-4670. -- Stefanie kalem
Swingin' in El Cerrito
East Bay fans of independent cinemas are familiar with Friends of the Cerrito Theater and their ongoing efforts to restore, preserve, and otherwise get the former San Pablo Avenue movie house back up and running as a working theater. It takes money to restore the mural and marquee, and EC movie fans are doing their part. The org's latest fund-raiser is a Swing and Niteclub Two-Step Dance Party -- with classes, beer and wine, and a raffle -- at the Danceasy, a dance floor and party site at 9951 San Pablo, once known as the Citadel during the swing era of the 1940s. $15. For more info, call 510-273-9250.-- Kelly Vance
You wouldn't think that talking about board games, Slip 'N Slides, and working at Burger King would make somebody think you're hot, but apparently it's worked for Dane Cook, whom Rolling Stone named this year's "Hot Comic." Maybe it's because no matter what he's talking about -- from death by drowning to drinking out of the Kool-Aid guy's head -- he finds a reason to bitch and scream about it. Frequently featured on Comedy Central's Shorties Watchin' Shorties, Cook appears at the Berkeley Community Theater (1930 Allston Way) Friday at 9 p.m. (doors at 8). Tickets cost $10-$30, available from Ticketweb.com-- Stefanie Kalem