The Peace and Freedom Party grass-roots political organization will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a comedy event headlined by countercultural icon, publisher and Yippie organizer Paul Krassner and Emmy Award-winning writer Rick Overton.
The party, which has an active chapter in Venice, will hold its “Stand Up for Peace and Justice” event at 7 p.m. Sunday, August 5th, at the Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica. Admission is $15.
The live comedy will be preceded by a reception featuring the music of the Eric Ahlberg Trio, a Peace and Freedom Party information table, and arts and crafts.
The Peace and Freedom Party first appeared publicly at a protest rally in Century City 40 years ago. Anti-war protesters had amassed to voice dissent the day of a visit by President Lyndon Johnson, according to Los Angeles County Peace and Freedom Party chair Cindy Henderson.
The Peace and Freedom Party’s first presidential candidates were Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver and comedian Dick Gregory. The party’s original planners were a mix of 1960s counterculture youths and members of the Independent Party who had been politically active in the 1940s.
Main ideological tenets of the Peace and Freedom Party are “no wars for profits; civil liberties for everyone; ending discrimination for any reason including age, race, sex and sexual preference; affordable healthcare and housing for all; free education from pre-school to the university level; and the right for workers to organize,” says Henderson.
“These ideas would be paid for by taxing billionaires and CEOs rather than regular working folks,” says Henderson.
In addition to celebrating the Peace and Freedom Party’s 40th anniversary, the comedy event is meant to shed humorous light on the serious issues of the day, Henderson says.
Joining Krassner and Overton will be comedians Charlie Hill and Larry Hankin, and musicians Gary Gordon, Robin Roberts, Wil B., Donna Janosik and James Tripp.
Krassner was labeled the “Father of the Underground Press” for his magazine The Realist, which he began publishing in 1958. He was editor of Lenny Bruce’s autobiography, and a cofounder of the Youth International Party (Yippies) along with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. He boasts being called a “raving, unconfined nut by an agent of the FBI.”
He is well-known as a countercultural participatory journalist, who ran an underground abortion referral service during the time that abortion was illegal, and was an early proponent of the psychedelic movement, taking LSD with Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Ken Kesey and introducing the substance to Groucho Marx, he says. He is the author of several books including Pot Stories For The Soul and Murder At The Conspiracy Convention.
Krassner has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and Air America radio with Janeane Garofalo and Marc Maron.
Overton has done stand-up comedy at clubs and special events for decades. He won an Emmy Award for his writing on Dennis Miller Live, and has also acted in dozens of movies and TV shows, including The Astronaut Farmer, Fun With Dick & Jane, Groundhog Day, Beverly Hills Cop, Gung Ho, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Six Feet Under, Joan of Arcadia, According to Jim, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and NYPD Blue.
Charlie Hill is a Native American stand-up comedian whose comedy routines give insight and cultural observations about modern America. He has also worked to dispel stereotypes about Native Americans through his comedy material. Hill has appeared on the television shows of David Letterman, Jay Leno, Johnny Carson and Richard Pryor. He was a staff writer for the show Roseanne. His motto is, “Make laugh, not war.”
Larry Hankin is a writer, performer, director, producer and Oscar-nominee whose early career includes the improv groups Second City and The Committee. He is a character actor who has played “Mr. Heckles” on Friends and “Ersatz Kramer” on Seinfeld.
Gary Gordon is a writer, producer, director, musician and entertainer. He is co-writer and director of the satire O.J. Law, author of two travel books on Southern California and the Western novel Crossfire Canyon, and years ago was the mayor of Gainesville, Florida.
Songwriter and comedian Robin Roberts writes humorous and dark songs. She was a performer on Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 radio show and she often volunteers at benefits to raise money to fight domestic abuse.
Political hip-hop artist Wil B has written several anti-war songs including “Dear Mr. Bush” which he debuted at an anti-war demonstration in 2002. Since then, he has written and performed several political songs at demonstrations and on political campaigns.
Donna Janosik, a singer/songwriter and actor, performs regularly at the Powerhouse Theatre as a member of No Shame Theatre. She writes quirky, comedic songs with a delivery described as “subtle, almost deceptive.”
James Tripp is a veteran of New York and Los Angeles comedy stages who worked as a political aid, reporter and radio news director before entering show business. Tripp will MC the comedy show.