SOLANA BEACH — When life gave Shayma Tash lemons, she made laughter.
Tash parlayed a turbulent childhood growing up in San Diego into a career as a standup comic that has her currently performing at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.
“With parents like mine it was hard to rebel as a teen,” she recalled. “However, I did find things to do that would drive them crazy — like my homework or washing my hair.”
She added, “I see a lot of differences between my mother’s generation and mine. Her generation would sleep on the street to demonstrate for equality. My generation sleeps on the street to wait for the new Xbox.”
On Aug. 18, Tash will travel to Solana Beach where she’ll headline the fifth annual Laugh for Recovery at the Belly Up.
The event benefits the nonprofit Mental Health Systems and features comedians Claude Shires and Tommy Chunn.
The show is produced and hosted by North County comedian Bob Murphy who met Tash 15 years ago when they worked together at the La Jolla Comedy Store.
“Shayma brings a unique style to her performance and a look at how silly and ironic growing up, and the current world, can be,” he said. “At every show she brings a professional performance that is also very funny. Together I believe this makes her one of the best up-and-coming national headliners I know.”
Tash was a child when she moved from Santa Cruz to San Diego after her mother’s first marriage broke up.
She describes her mother’s second marriage to an “unreliable biker” as a “lateral move.”
By 5 she and her older brother were placed in foster care for several months while her mother served time in jail after “unknowingly” buying stolen furniture.
It was at the age of 7 that she saw her first HBO comedy special and discovered immediately that she wanted to become a comedienne when she grew up.
The opportunity to break into comedy presented itself on open
mic nights at the La Jolla Comedy Store and later performing with their sketch comedy group.
“I progressed by moving to L.A. and the Hollywood Comedy Store where I networked and got to know other comedians,” she said. “I became someone that people noticed, got a manager and got invited to act on “The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show” — and things took
off from there.” She also appeared on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” on ESPN.
Tash was young when she recognized the benefits of having unstable parents who allowed her to watch irreverent comedy such as “Saturday Night Live,” Richard Pryor and Cheech and Chong.
To other young people eager to break into the business she offers this advice: “You can’t be prepared for how much work it involves getting started,” she said. “Find a local open mic night, get on stage and try to get as much stage time as possible.”
She warns that no one can learn how to be funny from a workshop or book. “It’s about writing a joke and practicing and performing,” she explained. “My act is a grab bag of physical humor.”
Many times Tash says she draws on real experience for inspiration. More often than not, her family is the butt of her jokes.
“Coming from a dysfunctional family affected my dating life,” she recalled. “One boyfriend said, ‘I think you might be co-dependent and maybe you should go to therapy.’ I said, ‘Well, if you think so — but will you come with me?’
“I try to push the envelope, but not deliver it,” she added.
In offering a sneak peek to her show at the Belly Up, she says to expect an appearance from television celebrities that might include evangelist Rev. Bob Tilton or an audience member from “The Jerry Springer Show.”
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of event.
Doors open at 2 p.m., show starts at 3 p.m. The Belly up is at 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. For more information call (858) 481-8140.