Vote for Swami: Exercise your right to laugh

I know you came here looking for ideas about what to do this weekend. But I’d like to abuse my public forum for just a minute. Contrary to popular belief, there are more important things in the world than theater.
The 2004 presidential race is heating up. Democrats are looking for a savior. Republicans are trying to anticipate threats. All eyes are on a former governor, a current senator, and a four-star general.
If you ask me, no one is paying enough attention to the swami comedian from the Brooklyn projects whose favorite greeting is, “May the farce be with you.”
Steve Bhaerman, a.k.a. Swami Beyondananda, got into the holistic-healing-through-comedy business the same way everybody does: He got laid off while teaching labor history to auto workers in Detroit. The Swami started writing a humorous newsletter (see Words feature, page XX) as a diversion from pruning trees in Ann Arbor, and soon discovered that he not only liked it, he was good at it. The next thing he knew was touring the country in a van as Swami Beyondananda with the new love of his life.
If that’s not the American Dream, I don’t know what is.
Bhaerman has performed everywhere from mob joints in Chicago— where he foiled a trio of drunken hecklers with the line “I think you are baiting the Master… do you know what that makes you?”— to the International Hypnosis Federation. 
His routine combines political and spiritual consciousness-raising with the silliest punning imaginable, all with the intention of helping people “cut through the bull that lurks behind every sacred cow.”
“There’s a tremendous amount of incivility in our political discourse,” says Bhaerman, explaining the intention behind his recently-founded Right-to-Laugh Party. “Letting people wake up in their own way to how goodhearted and honest people from all political backgrounds can be is a way to restore the country to the ideals of the Founding Fathers, the idea of individual sovereignty.”
If this sounds a little solemn, keep in mind it’s coming from the same man whose imaginary swami avatar recommends that you “report any serious behavior to the Department of Omland Security.”
Really, though.  Do you know what the funniest part of Swami Beyondananda’s presidential campaign is? 
He’s got as good a shot as any genuine liberal does these days.

Wake Up Laughing will be performed Sunday, September 7, at 7pm at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, 717 Rugby Road. Tickets $15 in advance, $20 at the door. 295-3377.