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There are two kinds of laughter in the comedy world: the laughter of anesthesia and the laughter of enlightenment. Most stand-up comics aim for anesthesia, dispensing a kind of comedic narcotic to deaden our pain and allow us to deny, however fleetingly, our problems. San Francisco-based monologuist Marga Gomez does something much more difficult in her performances. She takes her most personal foibles and most painful childhood memories and transforms them into a very liberating kind of comedy. In Memory Tricks, for example, she holds up for all the world to see her love-hate relationship with her difficult father (who was a comedian) and her vain, high-strung mother (who was an exotic dancer). Likewise, in Marga Gomez Is Pretty, Witty, and Gay she describes in funny but searing detail the crisis she endured when asked to appear as an “adult female homosexual” on a TV talk show. Like Jimmy Tingle’s, Gomez’s performances are a kind of spiritual exercise: though they’re entertaining–Gomez is a very funny woman–they also provide a kind of psychological road map for self-discovery. A discussion follows her Wednesday performance. Wellington Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 831-2822 or 664-3378. June 7 and 8 (Memory Tricks): Tuesday-Wednesday, 7:30 PM. June 9 (Marga Gomez Is Pretty, Witty, and Gay): Thursday, 7:30 PM. $20-$25.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Pamela Gentile.