Like anyone else living in these wild and wacky times, Alicia Dattner is looking for a laugh.
She’s not only looking for laughs she can share, but laughs she can get for herself too. That’s because the comedian and solo performer has a little therapeutic thing going on for herself in the midst of all this societal chaos. A well-established veteran of comedy clubs all over, she is plying her trade at the Marsh in Berkeley, where her solo show “One Life Stand” is running through Sept. 29th.
That therapy comes in the form of processing her thoughts for public consumption. The daily frustration of the current United States presidential administration zips Dattner into a frenzy often, and now she is giving audiences a dose of something a bit more uplifting.
“The piece is really about life in general, integrating the light, dark and profane,” said Dattner. “It also incorporates the silly and the serious and is essentially a comedy about a meta perspective of the things in a human body.”
For Dattner, who is no different than anyone living through these unprecedented times, she sees bad story after badder story coming through her news feeds constantly. And that can get pretty damn depressing.
“How do I carry on and not just bury myself in a hole? I guess I sort of just navigate my path and process by using jokes,” said Dattner. “It’s how I am trying to get a perspective on what’s happening in the world, and the challenge of trying to do that while growing up in a dysfunctional society feels pretty natural to me. The trick is finding the humor.”
Dattner has certainly found it, but just as importantly, the humor has found her. She has been lauded for her ability to spin a yarn, receiving numerous awards including winning twice at San Francisco Fringe Fest, Best Storyteller in both New York and Los Angeles, and Best Comedian in the Bay Area from multiple publications voted on by readers.
Dattner takes great pride in being an open book; her humor is super personal. And when one leaves her show, whether at a venue with tables and two item minimums or inside an intimate theatre space, they are bound to learn a lot more about this woman, who is dishing out the laughter like Halloween candy.
“My willingness to feel what I’m feeling makes my comedy a lot deeper and more meaningful,” said Dattner. “Some of the beginning of the show I’m a little bit darker, talking about political stuff. It’s not super easy to hear but through some funny jokes I can pull it off.
“I think making fun of myself a little bit gives people really nice views of the Grand Canyon – you take an audience up high and show them the big picture. I think it’s actually pretty different from rolling around in the muck.”
Dattner is glad to be back on a theatre stage, and specifically, returning to the Marsh. This is her third show at the solo venue, and after her first show ten years ago, those years have supplied her with more knowledge to flaunt, including her take on Flossing (the dance, not the teeth), the beauty of Amazon, and her mad ukulele skills.
It’s a venue where she can bust out all the tools in her comic toolbox for a very specific audience.
“The magic of performing in a comedy club is not quite as precious, and the idea of doing two or three shows a night for a week solid really appeals to me,” said Dattner. “The thing I love about theatres is they are so much more respectful, audiences get the higher-level jokes.”
Yet, she still hopes some of that crazy, club energy can follow her to Berkeley.
“People sometimes think in a theatre, you have to be quiet, so they can be respectful. I’ve had people tell me they didn’t want to laugh so loud because they didn’t want to disrespect me. I mean, come on, let’s not make this too precious.”
Women in comedy have often had to be twice as funny as men to have half the career a man has. But now, even though there is still much work to be done, there are more opportunities for women comedians to headline clubs. And Dattner is poised for her next big move up the entertainment ladder.
“There was really a lot of nasty humor towards women, and in a lot of ways there still is. But if you said anything about it, you were just a whiny bitch and not funny, so we couldn’t talk about it,” said Dattner. “But now there are open mics where women are going up before men, and there is a general acceptance of a woman in comedy.
“I think it’s amazing to watch the past two years with so many women who are super funny and gaining momentum. That makes me really happy.”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
The Marsh presents “One Life Stand”
Written and performed by Alicia Dattner
The Marsh Berkeley
2120 Alston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 29th
Tickets range from $20 – $100
For tickets, call (415) 282-3055 or visit The show’s official website