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Bay Area performances turned into benefits for fire victims

Comedian Lisa Geduldig, creator and longtime host of the annual holiday variety show “Kung Pao Kosher Comedy” in San Francisco’s Chinatown, said after keeping up with the news of the raging fires in the North Bay she couldn’t just stand by.

Geduldig, who said she has friends who have already lost their homes and many more waiting to be evacuated, knows how it feels. Last year, her apartment in the Mission District sustained fire damage from a nearby blaze that forced her to move to Oakland.

“I lost my home of more than 20 years after waking up to the sound of fire crackling next door in a neighbor’s backyard,” she said. “The entire building didn’t burn down, but I lost a lot of my stuff. … I know it doesn’t compare to what people are going through now, watching their entire community go up in flames, but I have compassion for what they’re dealing with.”

So while preparing for her new comedy series, “Comedy at Ashkenaz,” she decided to make the first show a benefit. The “A Political Comedy Night” show, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 12, at Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center in Berkeley, will now donate 100 percent of its ticket sales to the Redwood Empire Food Bank. Nonperishable donations will also be accepted and delivered to the food bank, which as of Tuesday, Oct. 10, had already delivered 55,000 pounds of food to Sonoma County evacuation centers for those displaced by the fires.

The comedy series will continue on the second Thursday of each month.

And Geduldig isn’t the only one with her North Bay neighbors on her mind.

Dave and Juliet Pokorny of Petaluma have been planning their inaugural Wine Country Spoken Word Festival for months and announced just days after the Wine Country fires that they’ve decided to donate a portion of their event’s proceeds to fire victims and their families.

The three-day festival kicks off Friday, Oct. 13, and during its Ghost Stories event at Brewsters Beer Garden in Petaluma, half of the ticket sales will be donated. A portion of ticket sales for events on Saturday, Oct. 14, will also be donated.

“Storytelling, comedy and poetry can be healing and our goal is to use this weekend as a way to bring our community together,” the Pokornys said in a statement. “We know there’s no way to bring back the property our neighbors, friends and families have lost, but by bringing our community together we hope people can start to heal.”

Other benefits are likely to be announced in the coming days. For the status of local venues and events as well as updates on the Wine Country fires, go to

Chronicle editorial assistant Maxine Marshall contributed to this story.

Mariecar Mendoza is The San Francisco Chronicle arts content editor. Email: Twitter: @SFMarMendoza Instagram: @sfchronicle_scene

Comedy at Ashkenaz presents “A Political Comedy Night”: Featuring Lisa Geduldig, Scott Blakeman, Yayne Abeba and Aundré the Wonderwoman. 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12. $15-$20, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to victims of the Wine Country fires. Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley.

Wine Country Spoken Word Festival: Ghost Stories, 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13. $5, with half of ticket proceeds being donated to fire victims. Brewsters Beer Garden, 229 Water St. N., Petaluma. Events at various locations in Petaluma on Saturday, Oct. 14, will also be $5 with a portion of the proceeds being donated. The festival runs through Sunday, Oct. 15. $15-$250.

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