Cruise ships have gotten a bad rap in recent years due to Covid outbreaks on the high seas and a collision with San Francisco’s Pier 27 (not to mention a fatal incident where one hit a rock off the coast of Italy and flopped onto its side). So it’s up to veteran comedian Marga Gomez to revive the image of the cruise industry in her new one-woman show. swimming with lesbiansat the Brava Arts Theater in the city’s Mission District.
Like most of her work, it is both humorous and partly autobiographical: a 65-minute story based on Gomez’s work as a comedian on a cruise ship in the 1990s. Featuring the likes of No Ham’s DJ Jackie Dyke, it will open on Friday for a two-week run at the same venue where Gomez has been a resident artist since 2015.
“The thing about cruise ships is that when you’re an entertainer, you’re also the staff and you have to be of service to every passenger,” she told The Standard at Limoncello on 24th Street. “You have to put up with all their crap. You have to keep a smile on your face and act like you’re their friend.”
A Manhattan native, she moved to San Francisco decades ago with an ex-girlfriend who silently drove across the country with her. She is a stand-up comedian, writer and actress with 14 one-woman shows to her credit, often at local theaters such as Brava or March, where she worked. swimming with lesbians and where her career largely began, as well as at long-gone venues such as Valencia Rose and Josie’s Cabaret, which closed on December 31, 1999, after Gomez performed there.
A local icon, her career is essentially one long tightrope walk between the underground and the mainstream: She’s worked with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and future San Francisco executive Tom Ammiano.
Gomez was in a much-missed Netflix show about telepathy. Sense8, who was partially shot in the city. She auditioned for a role in Speed it went to Sandra Bullock.
A lesbian of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent, Gomez grew tired of being offered confidante roles, but donned the apron when the opportunity to work with Kathleen Turner arose. His “biggest ego mistake” was performing on the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium. She once drove around Los Angeles in Lily Tomlin’s Rolls Royce, hoping she would get lucky. (They ate Cuban food instead.)
Since her first performance, Memory tricks at The Marsh on Valencia Street, Gomez has carefully explored her life story, often focusing on her family and personality.
“It was a huge success and sold out. It was wonderful,” said The Marsh artistic director Stephanie Weissman about the production. “Marga belongs to a group of solo performers who come from the comedy genre. Because of their background, their relationship with the public was so good and we are very glad that we were able to grow together.”
Although she is known as a comedian, she thinks of herself first and foremost as a storyteller if her primary goal is to make people laugh. As the nightlife world rapidly flooded Zoom in early-to-mid 2020, she created a meaningful show about a young woman dealing with a world full of predators. painful core.
“People were wearing masks, and during the funny moments it felt like I was being held hostage,” she recalls. “I still support this show. But what I’ve learned is that I won’t do edgy shows anymore because people will still be sad for a few more years. And the best thing I can do for the world, for the audience, for the Bay Area, is to be stupid.”
For Swimming with lesbians she looked love boat and came up with a fairly inexpensive ocean liner called the Celesbian, which features a bingo caller, a lacrosse player hoping to forget his past with his first lesbian romance, and a spirited ship captain named Debbie who wants to liven up the ship’s deck of Lezzo with entertainment. The entire project stemmed from Shonda Rhimes’ habit of saying yes to opportunities, even if it initially meant creating something quickly.
“I wanted to put the word ‘lesbian’ in the title because, for better or worse, I want people to know exactly what we’re going to do on this show,” Gomez said. “And it turns out that this name, as simple as it is, is good because people want to laugh and they want simple things.”
A self-described introvert and quiet person, Gomez is playfully shy about talking about her age, even if it makes her longevity look impressive. By threatening to take away all copies of the story, which makes her feel old, until she is reminded that The Standard is a digital publication, she then threatens to break the entire Internet. Almost in her next breath, she asks the audience to come in sailor clothes if they can.
She writes all her own material, but after being challenged and pushed by someone in all 13 of her previous solo shows, this is the first time Gomez has become her own director. She was initially reluctant to give herself credit as a director, preferring instead expressions such as “under the direction of Marga Gomez.” This could be far from the performers’ selfishness, or perhaps it was a streak of self-deprecation.
“When I see it, I say, ‘I don’t know,’” she said. “During a lot of commercials, I just think, ‘Oh, this can’t be very good.’