Standup comedian Alicia Dattner dedicates her life to perceiving The Grand Cosmic Joke: that pain exists for us to take ourselves less seriously, to laugh, and to experience the joy and wonder of an infinitely perfect universe.

This whole crazy thing started when Alicia was eight years old and watched the HBO comedy special Comic Relief for the first time. And the second time, and the third time, and twenty-two more times after that. While other kids were wearing out their videocassette copies of Cinderella and He-Man, Alicia wore the tape through on her video of Comic Relief. Something in it deeply appealed to her. The way Robin, Whoopi, and Billy made light of our social situation and raised money and awareness about homelessness was beautiful. They weren’t reverent or politically correct, they were just funny. This was also her first exposure to the comedy of Sid Cesar’s silent clowning, George Carlin’s routine about Stuff, and Gary Shandling’s poetic neurosis.

There were more episodes, like the first time she got paid ($5.00) to do comedy at eight years old. On a trip to San Francisco, Chris Pray, an improviser and actor friend of Alicia’s mom’s, put her in the show and did some comedy duo patter that killed.

Or the first time Alicia absolutely brought down the house at age 14, for an audience of two hundred. She’d volunteered to be in a comedy sketch with an “ayruvedic doctor-clown”, (anybody know who that guy was?) doing psychic surgery, and she played the slapstick and dramatic irony with him to a tee.

Alicia did standup for the first time a few days after her 19th birthday. She had just listened to Emo Philip’s “Live at the Hasty Pudding Theatre” album with fellow Hampshire College student Eugene Mirman.

Since then, she has continued to write and perform standup comedy. Today, her voice is loud and clear. Influenced by comedians like Woody Allen, Ellen DeGeneres, and Marc Maron, her humor is playful and spontaneous yet finely tuned. Alicia makes fun of the intensely personal and yet entirely universal struggles we face (or avoid) with a level of honesty and originality we don’t often see. Alicia calls this unique brand of humor “Human Comedy”. She surfs the stage with a Buddhist calm, navigates truth with dangerous wit, and leaves a wake of uncontrollable laughter.



“I love San Francisco, but the neighborhood politics are complicated. The people next door put up a sign that says, “No on 226″, and it freaks me out, because that’s my house number.”

“I listen to NPR all day. Their pledge drive is on again… ‘If you’re listening, you should be donating!’ I finally realized it’s time to do the adult thing. Stop listening.”

“I’ve been trying this raw food diet for a couple of weeks now… just found out you’re not supposed to eat cookie dough.”

“I am so tired. You ever think, ‘I just wasted the entire day on the computer. I gotta go watch some TV.”

“Have you noticed Valentine’s Day is terrible when you don’t have a good Valentine? Same thing with President’s Day.”