Monday, May 9, 2011

An Interview with Steve Bhaerman and His Alter Ego, Swami Beyondananda

© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Astro-Savvy, Cosmic Comic Kicks Off 
Humor Month on The Radical Virgo

You know him as Swami Beyondananda. You’ve met him in the Radical Virgo sidebar in The Daily Laughsitive. Now here to help us kick off Humor Month on The Radical Virgo is Steve Bhaerman, aka: The Swami. I know you’ll agree that a cosmic comic is in the right coordinates, landing on this asteroid in cyberspace!

Welcome, Steve.

JM:  Swami has been a long-time part of my metaphysical experience. It doesn’t seem like it was long after I was chanting Om with a vast sea of others at the Harmonic Convergence that I was first introduced to you and your hilarious work. I thought—then and now—that you’re the most unique comedian I’ve ever encountered.

How long have you been The Swami, and what is the genesis of the act and character?

SB: First of all, it was a total surprise to me. I say I got struck by enlightening during a brainstorm. I was living in Michigan. I had just lost my dream job, which was teaching autoworkers at Wayne State University in Detroit. I had to take a job, so I took one for the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan doing tree work. And while I was doing that, I was desperately trying to write a second serious book on education. I had published a book on my experiences in Washington, DC doing an alternative high school. I found myself going to work everyday wearing a jumpsuit, chipping brush, in a hard hat and so on, wondering, If I’ve taught at Wayne State University and had a book published by Simon & Schuster, how did I end up here?

And the universe had a very interesting idea for me. I got put with this new guy who was a brilliant psychologist disguised as a truck driver. He made a suggestion. “You know, you’re a writer, why don’t we start a little anonymous, humorous newspaper?”  And so we started a newspaper for the guys at the shop. It was totally made-up. We created them as characters in an ongoing, interactive situation comedy. It totally changed the workplace and changed my life because I recognized, first of all, the power of humor to bring new ideas in under the radar and to help people deal with difficult things in a user-friendly way. And I also recognized that I have the ability to produce humor that actually works.

And so, in the midst of doing this paper, this name flew into my head—Swami Beyondananda. I didn’t know what ananda meant. It means bliss. But at the time, I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew that all the swamis had ananda after their names. Beyondananda flew into my head, and a year later in 1980 when I was starting a holistic publication in Ann Arbor, my partner in this venture and I decided that we needed humor, because in those days people tended to take their spirituality very seriously. We initiated the Swami as our cosmic, comic mascot. It soon became the most popular feature in the paper. And then when I got the message to pursue humor as a full-time career, it was obvious that that would be performing as the Swami.

JM: So the Swami was born around 1979-80?

SB: The first column appeared in January of 1980 and the publication that my friend Josh Pokempner and I created was called Pathways. We used the Swami in a mock ad. Remember in the old days. There were these ads for Famous Artists’ School? We’re looking for people who want to draw?

JM: The ones on the back of the matchbook?

SB: That’s right! We did the Famous Gurus’ School. We’re looking for people who want to draw on higher consciousness. Then we had mock letters sent to Swami:

Dear Swami, loved your leadership training. Please send followers.

Then we had various techniques that the Swami introduced including tantrum yoga. Use your anger to heat your home in wintertime. Everything you ever wanted to know about sects … and, of course, since dogs are natural heelers, teach your dog to heal.

JM: Your background is even more colorful than I’d imagined—the genesis from climbing trees and doing tree work and how it took you to the newspaper. I’m excited to have that history. And moving onto our next question:

Astrology is just one tool and belief system associated with “the New Age.” I have always disliked that label for its inaccuracy. This type of wisdom has been around for thousands of years. From the perspective of the non-believer, there’s plenty to laugh at and make fun of, especially when encountering the extreme archetype of what I call a smiley-faced metafoofoo. You know, the individual who’s not very grounded and believes in every channeled entity, including radio signals picked up through his or her fillings.

SB: (Swami breaks into song) Fillings… nothing more than fillings …

JM: What aspects of “comic consciousness” get the most laughs?

SB: Well, you know, I think that the alchemy of humor has two elements that create energy in a joke or make something funny. One is surprise, and the other is emotional charge. So, if we’re talking about an issue that has a lot of emotional charge … and these are often emotional issues for people, whether they be relationships, body image and health, money, etc., etc. If you combine dealing with an issue like that with surprise, then you get a great laugh. And so when I first started out in the early ‘80s and then performing in the mid-‘80s, prosperity consciousness was such a big, big deal—and yet everybody who was pursuing prosperity consciousness was broke. And so there were all these money mantras. The Swami figured out that two of the biggest things people were interested in were having more money and losing weight.  So Swami came up with a mantra that was guaranteed to help you lose weight and have more money at the same time. It was, Everything I eat turns to money, and my drawers are full of cash.

JM: (Laughing.) I love it! That is hilarious.

SB: That always got big laughs, first of all, because it’s a nice surprise and also because it’s making fun of two of the biggest issues that people get to deal with. I find that that’s what gets laughs. You know, I’m an insider, as you hinted with your astrology question. In other words, I wouldn’t say I’m a true believer in everything, but I’m open-minded … and so, being an insider, I have more permission to make fun of these things than the outsider who’s looking to shoot holes in it. I am simply looking to point out areas where, in our human shortcomings—or actually short-seeings—we don’t recognize this particular contradiction. For example, all the people that get worked up about how you shouldn’t be judgmental.  So, the Swami says, I think judging is terrible! And people who blame are the cause of all the world’s problems.

And, of course, people laugh at that—the contradiction.

JM: And contradiction’s a big part of it, isn’t it? I think that’s where we’re the funniest.

SB: It’s a dance between the right and left brain, the intuitive and the logical brain. And so, the power of humor and the power of surprise is putting things together that wouldn’t normally be associated, while tricking the mind into thinking we’re going one place while we’re going somewhere else. Years ago, somebody asked the Swami, Swami, how do you feel about wild game preserves? And Swami said, Oh, I think they would taste terrible! I would stick with strawberry.

JM:  Steve, I know you’ve used astrology personally—the Vedic system, I believe. One of my colleagues who has studied various systems observed that it’s amazing how, whichever star path you use, Western or Vedic, you usually get to the same answers or conclusions. (There are many paths up the mountain.) What do you find particularly funny about astrology, astrologers, and the way we look Up for guidance?

SB: First of all, in regards to Vedic astrology as opposed to Western astrology, I want to quote Bob Dylan. He said, “You don’t need a Veda man to know which way the wind blows.” Now, my friend Jeffrey Armstrong is a Vedic astrologer, and it seems that somehow it all works out anyway—that these tools are simply instruments that people use to enhance their seeing, to enhance their intuition. Often the information comes, and if it weren’t through that tool, it would be from a different tool. People need to ask themselves, those who really want to reach out and tap into the Akashic record or the universal or whatever you want to call it, what resonates with them. The intention of getting this information is very powerful.

Now, of course, over the past few hundred years, Western science has pooh-poohed this whole notion of astrology. Yet, as we’re learning in physics, we are in a relationship with everything in the physical universe. It makes sense that certainly, if the Moon can impact the tides, menstrual cycles and so on, it’s certainly possible that the heavenly bodies have an interaction with all human bodies in this matrix. In gleaning these patterns, there is a tremendous amount of intuition and wisdom. For example, you mentioned earlier before we started the recording, that Mercury is retrograde.[1] Now, when I first heard about that, I said, “Well, who cares? What’s the big deal?” But in years and years of hard-learned lessons about Mercury Retrograde, I’ve gotten a lot of respect for it as a period of time when you want to be reflecting rather than trying to move things forward because the universe will have a better idea.

I think in a certain sense the sciences that are open to understanding are coming to realize that all bodies have relationships with all other bodies and that astrology may very well be proved by physics.

On Mercury Retrograde:  I’ve gotten a lot of respect for it as a period of time when you want to be reflecting rather than trying to move things forward because the universe will have a better idea.

JM:  Thanks for sharing your chart with me as part of our interview, published here “Western style” for the Radical Virgo readers to look at, since that’s the orientation of most of us. There are a set of features in your chart that are exciting to see, given what you do. First, your Jupiter, which indicates among other things your sense of humor, is very closely conjunct Mercury, the planet of communication. I suspect it would be impossible for you not be funny, even if you tried. Jupiter is in Scorpio for you (we share that), and one of the many expressions of that Jupiter sign is to laugh about the mysteries of life. How has your sense of humor served you, both in and out of your work as a comedian?

Click to enlarge

SB: By the way, they’ve now passed a law in California where, if you’re not satisfied with your astrological alignment, you can have your sign legally changed.

I spent my “deformative years” in New York City. My dad was a very funny guy. He wasn’t a professional comedian, but he used humor. What I noticed is that he really used it to bring people together. I grew up in a housing project and I learned to use my sense of humor when the big kids would ask me for money.  I’d look at them and I’d say, “I live here. If I had money, would I be living here?” And they’d leave me alone.

By the time I was in the 4th-5th grade, I was class comedian. You know you’re chosen by God as a class comedian the first time you’re sitting in the lunchroom and you make somebody laugh so hard, that milk comes out of their nose. It’s a sign from God.

So, I always had humor—and, of course, every child at some point is told to get serious. When I went off to college, I was told to get serious, and I really, really, really tried. I tried to blend in and tried not to make waves. So, I’m in a sociology class with about 250 other very, very bored students. I’m in the space between sleep and deep sleep. And out of the corner of my ear, I’m hearing the professor, and she’s talking about social mores. And she said, “Who can define for us social mores?” Without even thinking, I’m standing up, and in this kind of comedic Tourette’s, what comes out of me is (singing), “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”

And, of course, everybody laughed, except for the professor, who gave me a D.

JM: Oh, how unenlightened.

SB: Well, I earned the D is all I can say. That was that.

JM: I really love what you say about comedy bringing people together, because I really think that’s what it does. It joins us in our vulnerable places where we all are the same—where we all want the same things and feel the same things—and have the same fears, laughs and joys. That’s the thing about comedy I love, and thank you for verifying that you were born to do this.

SB: I want to make a comment about that—a very important point that you just made, because we are separated by the beliefs in our heads. We’re brought together by the love in our hearts. When we create whole-hearted laughter people can laugh, not out of nervousness, but because they are whole-heartedly vulnerable. And we put people in their hearts in the space of unity, and that’s why laughter is a resolution. You know, when you tell a joke, the punch line is the resolution of the joke, just like the end of a verse is the resolution in poetry or in music. That is the release of energy at the end of the joke. There is often an aha on the way to the ha-ha—an insight. And that’s the enlightenment that comes from lightening up.

We are separated by the beliefs in our heads. We’re brought together by the love in our hearts

JM:  A second set of features is most interesting in your chart, Steve. I’m a specialist in Chiron, the planetary body discovered in 1977 named after the “wounded healer” of Greek mythology who mentored heroes. He was inadvertently shot by a stray arrow, wounded by Hercules, his favorite student. As a result, Chiron had lingering pain because he was the son of an immortal and could not die. Astrological Chiron in your chart is at the midpoint between your Sun and Jupiter, creating a kind of cosmic sandwich. The Sun is who we are when we shine. Chiron has to do with the wounding/healing and wholeness cycle. And we’ve already covered Jupiter, what makes us laugh.

How do you see the role of comedy in healing pain?

SB:  As the Swami says, there’s only one kind of pain worth having, and that’s champagne. Beats real pain. I think that many comedians are the wounded healer archetype. I think I got off luckier than many, but often humor is a way to transform pain. I’ll give you an example. An inadvertent example. When I first started doing my talks on the healing power of laughter, one of the people in my workshops was a psychotherapist, and he said that when he first began his practice, one of his clients was a young woman who had been sexually molested by her grandfather. And he realized, of course, that this was a very, very delicate issue. And so, he was walking on eggshells, trying to make sure that he said only the right things that didn’t hurt her. And then he asked an innocent question. His question was, When did your grandfather molest you?  And her answer was, Before he died. And this guy thought that that was a very funny answer … and he began laughing. And all of a sudden, he’s laughing at this girl’s pain. There’s a part of him that’s starting to freak out: My God! I can’t be laughing! But he couldn’t stop himself. And at some point, she began laughing. The two of them laughed hysterically. She laughed until she cried. After she cried, that was the first time that she was ever able to talk about this experience.

If you think of e-motion as energy in motion, it’s possible for one emotion to open a gateway to access another one. Laughing and crying—you’ve seen that, where sometimes people are in the midst of great pain. Sometimes at a funeral or a wake, they begin laughing because there was something that they remember that was funny about that person … and then they start crying.

Laughter’s an emotional gateway. First of all, it’s a way of releasing emotional tension through laughter … but there’s often insight and awakening in the wake of that laughter. At that point, we wise up loving after waking up laughing.

Before Steve answered this question, we had a side discussion about his Chiron configuration and his four planets in Scorpio—the fact that he has a Libran veneer but a lot of Scorpio energy. He shared this Scorpio story.

SB:  We had this neighbor, who tended toward neurotic, and she’d create these big kerfuffles, and then she’d wonder why people had a problem with her. So after creating this one kerfuffle, she called me on the phone, a bit contrite, and she said, “Does everybody in the neighborhood hate me?” I said (the first sentence very sweetly), “Of course not. There are people here who don’t even know you.” There’s the Scorpio–and the Libra.

I commented about how he’s a relationship healer, not just on the level of one-to-one, but when you understand the Scales of Justice are the symbol for the sign of Libra, it also covers the political unrest that’s the collective not getting along.

SB: I’ve always had this issue with justice. When I was 12 years old, preparing for my bar mitzvah, I went to Hebrew School. I loved it. I loved learning a new language; I loved preparing for it. Then one day, a new teacher at this after-school program told us that we should only associate with other Jewish people. I raised my hand and I said, “That’s not what I learned in my family.” I grew up in a housing project. We had Italian kids, black kids; we had Jewish kids; we had white Protestant kids—just everything. She went uh-oh—and knew she lost me. At that point, I just turned the off switch to religion. It had to do with this perception of injustice.

(I share with Steve a similar experience.)

I think a lot of people who are turning into this new signal have had that distinction, that they have had a longing for spiritual connection but religion doesn’t really do it. I read somewhere—I forgot who said this—about the difference between spirituality and religion. Spirituality is our connection with the divine. Religion is crowd control.

As a species, this gets into my work with Spontaneous Evolution, my book with Bruce Lipton: We are now called upon to evolve spiritually and psychologically from Children of God to Adults of God.

(I share with Steve a resource that has helped me see stages of spiritual evolution, Finding Your Religion by Scotty McLennan.)

There’s a very interesting book I’m reading now about the political brain—about the right and left brain. The right brain, of course, is the open and expansive, reflective—it’s our connection with the infinite, love, etc.. The left brain is our rational, logical brain. Both of these brains are important. We need to expand and sometimes we need to protect ourselves and we need to contract. Rabbi Michael Lerner, who publishes Tikkun Magazine, he wrote a book called The Left Hand of God. He talks about the right hand and the left hand. The left hand has to do with the right brain—the expansiveness, this all-loving, all-encompassing God. But in this world, we also need a discernment of the left brain of our rational mind to help us distinguish between the parts of this amorphous goodness that’s really good for us and the parts that are simply disguised as goodness and are something else. We need both parts of our brain. We need them in the political domain, and of course, we have two political parties. Swami’s joke is that he dreams of someday when the elephant will lie down with the donkey and not roll over on him.  Because the two political parties, I think, are toxic distortions of feminine and masculine archetypes.

We have the Republican Party that tends to be a distortion of this masculine principle of control, domination, linearity, etc. We have the Democratic Party, which seems to be a distortion of the feminine principle, where—if I can be blunt—for the past 25 years, the Republicans have been playing hard ball and the Democrats have been playing hardly have balls. We have the toxic abuser on one side; we have the toxic enabler on the other side. The work that I’m doing with my buddy Joseph McCormick in the Transpartisan Alliance in reuniting America, brings the most functional aspects of both the masculine and feminine principles, progressive and conservative, together to function as an integrated whole rather than as dueling dualities.

On politics: I think the two political parties are toxic distortions of the feminine and masculine principles. We have the toxic abuser on one side; we have the toxic enabler on the other side.

JM: This is a perfect lead-into my next question, because I need to share something with you about Chiron. The different planets “rule” or are associated with various key ideas and even parts of the body. The part of the body Chiron is said to rule is the corpus collosum of the brain or the place where the right and left brain merge. Everything with Chiron has to do with pulling together and integrating masculine/feminine, light/dark, and so on.

SB: Wow, how cool is that?

JM: Way cool! When you were saying that about the political arena, I was getting chills. What’s really exciting for me about our conversation is that even though we’ve gotten there from different paths, you’re saying all the same truths and conclusions I’ve come to—as two vintage boomers—we’ve converged to the same truth. I find that exciting, and it confirms what you said earlier about how the tools just bring us to the same core principles about the universe.

SB: That’s excellent. Bruce Lipton and I found in writing Spontaneous Evolution that the next phase of human evolution is recognizing that we’re all cells in the body of a new organism called humanity. We are now at the population density level where, obviously, the institutions we’ve established to deal with reality are not doing their job. They’re doing the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to be doing. We need to have a new organizing principle. That organizing principle is recognizing that we’re cells in the same organism—and what’s good for humanity is good for us as individuals. We don’t lose our individuality by doing that; we actually gain more freedom, because we gain freedom from our own programming … and we also gain freedom from having to defend ourselves against other healthy human beings.

I’m noticing that people are finding many, many different ways to say the same thing because many of us are attuning to the same signal coming from this new organism called humanity that exists in the field but doesn’t yet exist in physical reality. 

JM: It’s exciting to be on the brink of all that. We live in interesting times, indeed.

SB: Yes, that’s what’s exciting about it … and they say that crisis and opportunity are really two sides of the same coin. As we see the crisis, we can look at it as the caterpillar deconstructing. We can look at the opportunity as the butterfly being reborn.

On Evolution: The next phase of human evolution is recognizing that we’re all cells in the body of a new organism called humanity.

JM: I love that your Chiron is in Libra, which is a rather rare placement, because in Chiron’s very uneven elliptical orbit, Libra is the sign where Chiron spends the least time, only 1.75 years out of every 50. As the planet of healing in the sign of relationships, your true calling would have something to do with creating better relationships in the world. You have a big emphasis on the 6th house of healing—many planets there. So, it looks like healing relationships and bringing that Libran balance to the world is a big part of your mission.

Tell us about some of the ways you’re doing that, because I know you have some newer projects that truly show you “living your chart” in these areas.

SB: That’s very, very interesting. My earliest interests, besides humor and baseball, included politics. My first landing spot after graduating from college was Washington DC. I was an intern teacher there, got involved with a lot of political activity, and found myself turned off to many of the political things going on … I’ll give you an example.

One of the people I met early on in my political endeavors was a world-famous expert on communal living, but unfortunately, nobody could stand to live with him. We would see these contradictions between the ideal and the real deal. And so, when I set out on what I would consider a spiritual journey to really understand psychology and spirituality, as a prerequisite to functional politics, that took me to many, many different paths and practices. Before I began writing my book with Bruce Lipton, I had this idea that I’d write a book called Healing the Body Politic because I recognized that so much of what I learned in holistic medicine would indicate that politics is a series of relationships. We’ve been practicing Newtonian politics, where we have one force acting on another force, and you’re seeking to be the most dominant force.

In the wake of writing that book with Bruce Lipton, Spontaneous Evolution, which does deal with politics and economics, I’ve been working with Joseph McCormick, as I mentioned who is the creator of the Transpartisan Alliance. Joseph’s background is probably as different from mine as you can imagine. He grew up in a very conservative, Catholic family. He was an Army Ranger, a member of the Christian Coalition, and ran for Congress as a Republican. When he lost his election in 1998, he began an individual process of transformation. It began with a dark night of the soul, and he ended up bringing together leaders of very diverse groups. For example, and the Christian Coalition—getting these leaders to connect and be in relationship with one another.

He and I just completed an e-book called Reuniting America: A Citizen’s Tool Kit for Transforming the Political Game. We are now in the process of turning that into a print book. The work that we are doing together is this healing work—when you create a sacred circle, when people with very different and opposing ideas can sit with one another in the context of respectful listening, invoking the powers of love. That’s what he does whenever he begins one of his circles. The power of love and oneness transcends the separation of religion and other belief systems. He has been able to create extraordinary breakthrough with ordinary citizens. My path right now is to support him in that and bring in an entirely new, integrated political order that honors the exact thing you were talking about. The transformational power of Scorpio in the context of Libran relationship.

JM: I’m in awe of how you live your chart. You are such an example of someone who has taken his chart factors to the highest level. It’s a joy to behold.

Let’s go back to being funny for just a minute here. People who read this blog know that I am a shameless punster … but I don’t hold a candle to you when it comes to endless wordplay. I believe puns are ruled by Chiron in astrology. The reason? Chiron orbits between Saturn (grounding) and Uranus (brilliance, inspiration, lightning bolts of wisdom, and that surprise factor you talked about). Chiron helps us bring the cosmic wisdom—and corn!—down to earth. It acts as a kind of transducer. It takes the high-vibrating cosmic info and slows it down for an earthbound landing and helps you place it right smack in the middle of a sentence. Talk about healing. There’s nothing that upsets the applecart of one’s stuck energy in a good way like a well-placed pun, even a groaner. Gets you right out of yourself and your concerns to see how absurd and multi-level the universe really is. It’s a reminder of how we must laugh at ourselves to survive.

Are you a spontaneous punster or set-up punster? Or both? How have words played into your life?

SB: What an interesting and loaded question. There’s a lot of stuff in there. I’d say that I hear funny. I’m auditory. I’ll hear—for example—I make up names. There’s a woman who can’t stay in a relationship because of her name. Her name is Frieda Knight. A guy asks, “Are you Frieda Knight?” and she says yes. Then, you remember Aristotle Onassis. He actually has a nephew who was a survivalist in Idaho. Know what his name is? Xavier. Xavier Onassis.

The question a lot of people have is why do people groan at puns? The reason why people groan at puns is because puns often do not have the emotional charge needed to create a full-blown laugh. I’ll give you an example. When I lived in Texas years ago, I was asked to be a judge at the annual O. Henry Pun-Off. I found that I was bored; because it would simply be a strand of words that people would have strung together that didn’t really have any connection with our emotions—which is kind of like mental masturbation. So, when people are throwing this wordplay around, first of all, they have to be able to make a connection with an emotional issue in order for the pun to land in a way that’s more than as just a little mental game.

What I’ve found is that, again, when someone might ask the Swami about their weight (switches to his Swami Indian accent), “Well, it’s psychological—an unresolved edible complex. You think something’s edible, you put it in your mouth.” Because it has an emotional charge, people find themselves laughing before groaning. We do have audiences that tend to groan. It’s rare these days, and then Swami says, “I see you’re groan-ups. So everybody, let’s groan up.” And I create a thing where everybody groans and then release that energy, because that’s what prevents humorhoids.

I discard a lot of puns because they don’t have enough charge to them. There’s not enough surprise. It’s predictable.

JM: I have never heard someone separate that out as well as you have. I have never thought about why a pun doesn’t land well. Wonderful!

SB: We laugh because we’re surprised and delighted. It goes back to the baby playing peek-a-boo. Now you see it; now you don’t. The punch line in a joke is always invisible until it’s revealed. Usually, it’s 1, 2, 3. One creates the premise. Two builds the premise. Three provides the surprise.  I’ll give you an example.

A minister, a priest, and a rabbi (there’s 1, 2, 3)—they are having a serious conversation about what their legacy would be. They’re answering the question, When you’re lying there in your casket, what do you want people to be saying about you?

The minister says, I want people to say he was a leader in his community and a good family man.

The priest says, I want people to say he was a spiritual man and had a kind heart.

And the rabbi says, I want people to say, “Look! I think he’s breathing!”

One, two, three. Start, reinforce the set-up, then surprise.

JM: In your opinion as the wise Swami Beyondananda, what do we most need to heal on earth now—and how can laughter help?

SB: Let me bring the Swami in to answer that, OK? Here he comes.

OK, let me tell you something. What we need now is to wake up laughing and wise up loving. Why laugh? I’ll tell you, because there’s definitely something funny going on. And when we laugh, we create the space between thoughts where enlightening can strike. Then we have an aha in the wake of the ha-ha. Yes?

Wise up loving, because the true power that we have is love. In the head we have beliefs that separate us. And believe me, what people believe is unbelievable. We need to leave the static of the head for the ecstatic of the heart. The more we expand our hearts, the less we are going to need to shrink our heads. And the good news is that love is more powerful than fear, otherwise we’d be singing, “All You Need is Fear.”

JM: Steve, lastly, let’s tell our readers where they can get more Swami from your website, books, and so on—and how they can bring you “live” to their town. I saw you in Sacramento last December, and I have to say, I’m still laughing inside. My insides feel like quivering Jell-O every time I return to the scene in my mind.

SB: There are two ways you can do it. You can go to Swami’s schedule is there. You can also click on Swami’s Store. There are books, CDs and  DVDs available—also e-books and digital downloads, so you can have plenty of comedy for very little money. We have what we call the Fool Enchilada Special, which gives you all of Swami’s comedy, either digitally or in real-time CDs, books, and DVDs.

You can also find Swami Beyondananda on Facebook. We have a Facebook page and lots of stuff going on there. You can get Swami’s Daily Laughsitive in your in-box to make sure that you preserve regular hilarity.

If you want to bring the Swami to town, there’s a contact page on Wake Up Laughing or you can send the Swami a message on Facebook. You can request some information on that. It so happens that we’re going to be in Fairfield, IA May 13-15 at a longevity conference where I’ll be performing. In June, we’ll be on the East Coast at the Rowe Conference Center in Massachusetts. We’ll be in Montpelier, VT, and New York City as well. If you are on the East Coast or in the Midwest and you’d like to bring the Swami during that period of time, we still have some openings for living room events and other special appearances. Just write

Steve, thank you so much for sharing your work on The Radical Virgo in both the Daily Laughsitive and this interview. Most of all, thanks for helping launch Humor Month by telling us more about you and your wonderful work. I’d like to end with one of my favorite quotes.

Laughter is carbonated holiness. ~ Anne Lamott

This must be true. Swami is very warm and fizzy—and wholly!


Steve Bhaerman is an internationally known author, humorist, and workshop leader. For the past 25 years, he has written and performed as Swami Beyondananda, the "Cosmic Comic." Swami's comedy has been called "irreverently uplifting" and has been described both as "comedy disguised as wisdom" and "wisdom disguised as comedy."  Author Marianne Williamson has called him “The Mark Twain of our times.”


[1] This phone interview took place on April 13, 2011 beginning at 10:00 am PDT, initiated in Rocklin, CA.

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