Laughter cures almost anything

Christopher Jackson, Staff Writer

Got the blues? World got you down? Steve Bhaerman and his alter-ego Swami Beyondananda have the medicine: laughter. Bhaerman came to Newman Auditorium, Aug, 23, and explained the power of humor and laughter on the human spirit.

 According to the “About Swami Beyondanada” section on his webpage,, Bhaerman is a former writer and teacher, who in 1980 took on his Swami persona to write for the holistic publication “Pathway.” Wikipedia describes a Swami as “He who knows and is master of himself,” or as Bhaerman himself puts it, “a man of enlightening.” Bhaerman’s articles sought to give insight through comedy on topics ranging from politics and spirituality to dog training.

After “Pathway” stopped publishing Bhaerman decided to make a career of standup comedy. In 1985 he debuted as Swami Beyondanada and has performed under the guise ever since.

Darcy Levy of Petaluma received an email notice and was drawn to the idea of laughter as a healing art and said, “I’ve been looking for a reason to laugh lately.” Bhaerman provided that, but not so much through a comedy routine; rather, through offering an alternative perspective to view the negative aspects of our lives and the world.

Bhaerman believes humor’s power lies in its ability to neutralize the tensest moments. He illustrated this point with an anecdote about a meeting of the minds between the United States and the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis. To start the meeting a Soviet official stood up to his stoic audience and said, “Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. In communism it is opposite.” Everyone laughed and a gap was bridged that would have remained shutoff had comedy not leveled the footing for all.

Bhaerman then told the story of two Jews locked in a concentration camp during World War II; they made sure to tell at least one joke every day. They were showing as long as they could laugh their spirit could never be defeated.

Bhaerman exited the stage and returned minutes later as Swami Beyondananda, dressed like a magic carpet-flying genie with a Bullwinkle “moosifix.” Swami took questions from the crowd and gave answers with his polito-spiritual brand of humor.

Asked what he thought about same sex marriage Swami responded, “I’ve heard married couples complain about the same sex for years.”