You’ve seen these comics at The Punchline, Cobbs and 142 Throckmorton, but you have never seen so many consistently funny people together in one show. Pacifica’s Octopus Lounge has put together two shows every week in November and December, every Wednesday and Sunday at 9 p.m. Each show is guaranteed to appeal to everyone who loves to laugh and the cost is less than lunch in a good restaurant: $10.00
Paul Born is the originator of this comedy series and a man who plans to expand the comedy scene for the entire bay area by featuring the hottest stars nationwide in 2010. To preview his comedy series, he is doing twice weekly all-star showcases featuring the best in the Bay Area. In the past two weeks, Michael Meehan, Ross Turner and Mickey Joseph have graced the Octopus lounge stage.
Sunday evening, November 15, Born has booked Jeff Applebaum, one of the few clean comedians that never fail to make you laugh. Applebaum has appeared on the Craig Ferguson show and opened for major comedy legends like Robin Williams. He tells stories about being married and a family man with a new baby and an Asian wife who hates to cook. He is funny, irresistible and real. On the bill with him is Sam Arno , a typical French-Moroccan Jewish guy from Baltimore who is a master at twisting real life experiences into the absurd. Debby Campo whose saucy, edgy sense of humor appeals to everyone and has performed coast to coast rounds out the program with Lynn Ruth Miller, soon to become the last comic breathing to host the show.
On Wednesday, November 18, Born is headlining that nationally famous singer, actor, impressionist and comedian Jim Giovanni. It is rare to find a multi-talented local like Giovanni, a one-man-tour-de-force whose every appearance makes the show a rollicking success. Giovanni is joined by Sammy Obeid, who is the hottest performer in Northern California, fast on his way to the top. He is also young and very adorable with a head full of curls that will bring out the mother in us all. Lynn Ruth Miller will reminisce about driving then and now the many husbands she has sent to The Home, as a preview of the real, unglorified senior experience. The legendary TONY SPARKS will host this exciting show, one that promises to make you forget the clogged freeways, polluted air, foul water and impersonal meter maids that frustrate those of us trying to keep our hearts in the San Francisco Bay area without losing our zest for the life it inflicts upon us.
Comedy at The Octopus Lounge
November 4-December 30, 9 p.m.
Wednesdays and Sundays
$10.00 at the door
180 Eureka Square
Pacifica, CA 94044
650 355 7775


David Gockley is determined not to let the current credit crunch affect the quality of the productions he has brought to the San Francisco Opera’s 87th season. “A large part of what I hope to accomplish in my time here is to reinvigorate the core Italian repertory that is San Francisco Opera’s birthright,” he says. “This company was founded by an ardent group of Italian Americans who believed in the power and beauty of this unique art form and Nicola Luisotti, (who replaces Donald Runnicles) is the ideal music director to honor that heritage.”
That is not to say that opera cannot be great fun. Donizetti’s THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT is a tongue in cheek masterpiece from its resounding first note until the rip-roaring finale. This particular production took even more liberties with costume and stage business than others I have seen. The translation from the French is choice, salty and rough as it should be when recreating the military life. Yet, this opera cannot fail to delight no matter what the scenic interpretation or time frame. It is heartwarming; it is memorable; it is beautiful music, thrilling voices and sweetly sentimental to the core. Although it premiered in 1840, THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT is guaranteed to make current musical comedy look unbearably stuffy. This production featured coloratura soprano Diana Damrau as Marie the foundling adopted by the regiment who have nurtured and cared for her since she was a baby. Tenor Juan Diego Flóres is the guy who falls in love with her and he hits those high C’s clear enough to shatter glass. The opera tells the story of Marie, a rambunctious tomboy raised by the soldiers of the French 21st regiment and Tonio, the boy who loves her. Marie’s mother, a wealthy aristocrat who had her daughter out of wedlock reunites with her child in the first act and takes her back to her own home to polish up the girl’s manners and marry her off to a prestigious Duke. In the end, Tonio’s devotion and Marie’s unhappiness and inability to adapt to all the wealth and culture her mother wants to provide for her convinces her mother that her daughter should return to her lover, now a member of the regiment and to all her devoted daddies.
Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Indeed it could be really idiotic were it not for the marvelous melodies, the superb singing and the buffoonery only the San Francisco Opera dares to create on a stage. This opera was Donizetti’s first work composed in French for the Paris stage, and he paid tribute to French pride and nationalism while at the same time he lampooned army life. Marie’s earthy vocabulary is definitely NOT aristocratic and every song she sings is peppered with several Anglo Saxon expletives, joyous salutes to France and cheers for the 21st regiment.
In direct contrast with Donizetti’s frothy confection, the San Francisco Opera gave its patrons SALOME, Richard Strauss’s one act adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play. Molly Fillmore stepped in to replace Nadja Michael as Salome and she cannot be praised enough for her courage to sing this very demanding role on such short notice. She has only been understudying the role with the Met, but she stepped up to the plate and gave us a sensitive, moving and very real performance of a disturbed, sensual and confused human being. Her Salome was a moving portrayal of the pathological seductress sung with dramatic intensity and real compassion. It was almost as if Fillmore dared to open a locked window into her character’s deranged mind. This erotic and murderous biblical story of Salome and her lecherous stepfather Herod has shocked opera audiences since its first performance. The opera is rightfully considered one of the great masterpieces of the twentieth century. The plot follows the sultry Salome as she uses her seductive powers to orchestrate the decapitation of John the Baptist. I do not think anyone in the audience will ever forget Fillmore’s rapt, absorbed expression as she held his bleeding head in her arms and kissed it with frightening tenderness and love.
San Francisco Opera’s final production for its winter season will be Verdi’s OTELLO, a masterful adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy about the great warrior who discovers the one weapon against which he has no defense—his own jealousy. Johan Botha, the South African tenor praised by The New York Times for his "effortless power and clarion tone," makes his San Francisco Opera debut in the title role. Bulgarian soprano Svetla Vassileva, recent winner of the Italian Association of Music Critics' prestigious Abbiati Prize, brings tenderness and vocal brilliance to the role of Desdemona, the faithful wife who finds facts are no match for manufactured suspicion. Music Director Nicola Luisotti, praised by London's Financial Times for conveying Verdi's "sweep, lyricism and subtle detail," conducts.
It always saddens me that so few people have experienced live opera on stage and because they have not thrilled to this amazing combination of all the arts, they are scandalized at the immense expense of each production especially in such difficult economic times. Opera has endured for over 400 years because of its huge impact and spectacular beauty. The stories it tells are sung by exquisitely trained voices that somehow elevate soap opera plots to the divine. The costumes, the pomp, the excess and the glorious settings are the stuff of fairy tales made real. Grande Opera is all human experience sung, danced, and performed against a backdrop of spectacular scenery. Each scène is a painting; each full production a gallery of masterpieces. Every production costs enough to educate a child and yet it gives us back the reflection of who we are and what common thread weaves us all together over time and across continents and oceans.
We are unbelievably fortunate to live in San Francisco where our opera company is second to none. You will do yourself an immense service if you buy yourself a ticket and treat yourself to an experience that was once the rock and roll of its day. There is nothing old about opera but the dates of each production’s premiere. Human beings still fight and lose, hate and love, dream and accept, cry and rejoice. The art form encompasses all the fundamental emotions we know in our own lives. We see and hear it all on the War Memorial Opera House stage and we nod because every one of us who lives and breathes has been there and done that. We love every story performed for us because those plots are the very stuff of what is happening to us today, now and in the twenty-first century. Opera does far more than cater to an elite, thinking class. It shows everyone from the homeless guy on the street to the celebrity in his chartered plane hovering over the Caribbean that who we are and what we feel is nothing new. The human condition has survived it all and it still shines in full costume with an orchestra behind it. Beautiful people sing about the pain and the joy we all endure, the uncertainty, the fear, the glory we all seek. It is all there before us, centuries old and yet new as tomorrow. What can be better than that?

For more information:
Tickets from $15 - $310
415 864 3330