Noe Valley Voice October 2006

Local Comedian Alana Devich Helps Rain on Bush

By Lorraine Sanders

If you happen to bump into comedian Alana Devich at one of her favorite places, the little park across from Martha's on 24th Street, or see her strolling near her Sanchez Street home, whatever you do, don't ask her to tell you a joke.

According to Devich, asking a comic for a joke is like asking a doctor for free medical advice.

"I get paid for that. Now if you want to pay me...," smiles the funny gal and writer who bills herself as the Deadpan Hurricane and who'll be performing Oct. 14 in the third annual George Bush Going Away Party, a night of political comedy at Herbst Theatre.

What's a better tactic?

Ask her about Marion Jones. Devich is more than happy to discuss the Olympic track star's great muscle tone, as she does in graphic detail in a recent post on her blog. What fuels this interest in Jones' physique? Lust, folks, pure and simple.

"She's one of my 'M' crushes. Right now, all of my crushes are on people with M's," she says, with a straight face, of course.

While the rock-hard quality of Jones' abdominals and matters of the heart are, as readers will likely agree, of chief importance in this world, Devich does not confine herself to these topics in her standup routine, nor in her life. The 30-year-old half-black, half-white lesbian humorist waxes funny on everything from the challenges of hanging oneself (would mint-flavored dental floss work?) to the absurd demands of yoga poses.

Great, everybody! So, this time, I want you to all go up into your handstands and this time spread your feet a little bit apart and then lean your weight onto your stronger arm and then pop onto the fingertips of your other hand. And if that's super-easy for you, then once you're on your fingertips, just take that hand up to your waist. (From

Devich was born and raised in San Jose. But for diversity, she soon headed to the East Coast to attend New York's Sarah Lawrence College. She became interested in standup after taking an improv class. Later, she honed her skills at venues like the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, Mass., Boston's Comedy Vault, New York's Gotham Comedy Club, and Portland's Comedy Connection.

She was a featured performer in the Boston Comedy Festival for two years running and made it to the semifinals in Comedy Central's 2002 Laugh Riots Competition. (She's a big fan of Jon Stewart and Paula Poundstone.) In 2003, Boston Magazine selected her for its Best of Boston issue, alongside such household names as Conan O'Brien, Denis Leary, and Jay Leno. After several years in New England, Devich relocated to Noe Valley two years ago.

"It's adorable, a really cute neighborhood," she says. "The thing that really cracks me up, though, is that it's like a little suburb," with kids and strollers monopolizing the sidewalks.

While her act is rarely overtly political, Devich feels right at home at a Bush bash. "The fact that I'm biracial and not straight--these are things that [automatically] put me on the outside of mainstream society," she says.

She admits identity politics is a focal point from which much of her humor grows. But there's a twist. "It's not me asking the audience to appreciate what my life is like but assuming that they already do and going from there," she says.

Another key part of Devich's humor is her controlled delivery.

"My persona is very, very deadpan. When I was in college, I had a friend who used to make me raise my left hand when I was joking," she quips.

She finds inspiration for her humor from popular culture, films, overheard snippets of strangers' conversations, and quite often from her father.

"My dad is by far one of the funniest people I know, both intentionally and unintentionally," Devich says.

While he doesn't figure heavily in her act right now, Devich's father is often the one she turns to for help in perfecting jokes. You might think it would be difficult to share personal, sometimes racy joke concepts with one's father, but Devich says her dad's humor is occasionally more shocking than her own.

"He's very good at refining [jokes], but every now and then he says something and I'm like, 'Dad, I can't say that onstage,'" she says in mock disbelief.

As for her upcoming performance at the Herbst Theatre, Devich has spent the last several months working on new material that speaks to the event's political theme. "For me, writing for the show gives me a good opportunity to meditate on what I'm reading in the paper and seeing in the news. And then to take that a step further and find the comedy in it. A show like this is different from a typical comedy show because everyone is basically on the same wavelength. It lets you start out knowing that, at least politically, you're all on the same page," she says.

While you'll have to catch the show to discover what Devich finds funny about Bush these days (or check out her blog material at right), she does divulge one suggestion for the betterment of America's political system.

"Presidential elections should be run more like reality shows [like American Idol]. I think more people would get involved, and candidates would be really easy to vote for."

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy's Third Annual George Bush Going Away Party: An Evening of Political Comedy takes place at the Herbst Theatre on Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. Along with Alana Devich, the show features comedians Greg Proops, Bill Santiago, and Lisa Geduldig. Proceeds from the event benefit the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors' Military Out of Our Schools Program. Tickets ($22.50 to $35) are available in advance through the City Box Office, 415-392-4400, or online at

From Alana Devich's blog (

Alana uses her blog to post observations and random musings on her life. Here are a few:

A gem from the man who loined me, aka Bob Devich:
"George W. Bush is either an idiot or he's faking it. Which, I guess makes him the greatest actor of all time."

[On George W. Bush and Jesus]

Remember back in the day, during that presidential debate when W. said that his favorite political philosopher was Jesus Christ?

I've been thinking a lot about the genius of that statement. I mean, first of all, and most obviously, the answer has so little to do with the question. But the thing is, when JESUS is involved, you cannot ask questions. Because it makes you [look like] an asshole.

I've been trying to apply this little gem in my daily life. The other day, one of my friends asked me what my favorite animal was.


More from Bob Devich:
Bob: Do you need a bunch of rubber bands for your apartment?
Me: Um.
Bob: Do you need a rubber band supply?
Me: Well.
Bob: Oh, of course you do. I'll put some with your stuff.
Me: Oh, okay.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I've started meditating every day. It's great opportunity to just sit down and think "only five more minutes...only four minutes and forty-five more seconds..."

[On Nooses] I was watching a movie from the 1960s wherein one of the characters makes a dramatic revelation and then retires to her room and decides to hang herself.... I don't know if women were smarter in the '60s or if I'm just retarded, but ...I have no idea how to make a hang(wo)man's noose. And B? I don't even have any rope. So unless I can use that mint-flavored dental floss in my meddy cabinet and some version of a square knot...

Bob Devich Brilliance:

While watering the plants:

"It's amazing how well this water stuff works! It's like an elixir!"

Ah, Instant Messenger:
devich: do you know much about the roasting of potatoes?
amd: i know a great deal, in fact
devich: okay, well let me ask you some questions
devich: i mostly roast those little red bliss taters
devich: but at the farmers market this weekend i got one of them purple peruvian
devich: do you think i can add that to the mix of my red blisses, and if so, do i need
to do something special?
amd: i have mixed all kinds of potatoes
amd: sometimes they cook at slightly different rates
amd: it seems like red blisses, which are waxier, might need a little more time
than the purples
amd: but maybe not
devich: so i'll just throw them all in at once and keep an eye on them
amd: yeah
amd: sometimes i keep them separate
amd: on opposite ends of the pan, or in two different pans
devich: racist
amd: just in case one cooks a lot faster
devich: u & yr jim crow cooking
amd: white potato power

Him: It's inexplicable.
Her: Yeah. It's like you can't explain it.