Jorge Garcia has overcome polar bears, Smoke Monsters and time-traveling islands. Standing alone and blinded by spotlights in front of 300 audience members who expect you to make them laugh is another challenge altogether.
“It was always kind of a secondary thing that I always played around with,” he explained. “I never had the discipline to do the same six minutes every night. I didn't give it the full gung-ho that some comics do.”
In fact, Garcia hadn't performed in ages. Then comedian/actress Suzanne Whang, a decade-long friend from the Beverly Hills Playhouse, asked him to participate in last night's benefit show to aid in her stage IV metastatic breast cancer treatment.
Comic and BHP veteran Bryan Callen conceived and hosted the fundraiser, which included performances by Whang, her significant other Eric Schwartz, Dov Davidoff, Chris D'Elia, Johnny Sanchez and a surprise stage storming by Kathy Griffin, with reality-TV crew in tow, along with an Atlanta fiberglass saleswoman also named Kathy Griffin.
But despite referring to a lined notebook and admitting up front, “This material is all old and tired, and not all of it applies anymore. I have a girlfriend now, so that knocks out half of it,” it was Garcia who stole the show. His sweet, self-effacing seven minutes were predominantly dedicated to food, specifically his decision to go vegan six months ago. “Yeah, I'm still fat. Thought I'd address the elephant in the room…I became vegan at the time when vegans are going through a whole cupcake renaissance. It's definitely kept my mind off of cheese.”
Garcia spoke of his need to read food labels closely, often looking up the confusing information they contained. “Rapeseed oil! I had to Google it. It's a plant. It's lovely, yellow flowers, which kind of is disturbing that you would either name a pretty little flower after rape or you'd name rape after a pretty yellow flower. And how do you have a whole family going, 'We've been raising rape for as long as I can remember! Why don't you come join me around harvest time? Come out to the rapefields!'?”
Following the sold-out show, Whang expressed her gratitude for the performers, attendees and Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada. “This experience with the cancer has literally cracked my heart open and let all this love and support rush in,” she enthused. “It's been miraculous.”
Before moving to Vancouver in one month to film new J.J. Abrams series Alcatraz, Garcia appears Friday, July 8 at I.O. West, 6366 Hollywood Boulevard., (323) 962-7560, west.ioimprov.com.