Coffee and Comedy in California


Joe Fattorini

How do you take your coffee? Seriously, did you wake up to a powerful espresso, or kick off the day with a milky latte? Tell me what coffee you like and I’ll tell you what wine you’ll love.

Or at least I hope so. Comedian Gina Yashere’s wine preferences run to “do you have anything that tastes like Sprite?” When I discover I must find a wine she’d love, I know this will be a challenge. Even for the coffee test.

But we’re in a convertible Mustang. Driving along the California Coast along the Pacific Coast highway visiting places we’d seen here. We’re heading to wineries around Santa Barbara along the California coast. Not much to complain about there. Until Gina drops in her little surprise. She’s arranged for me to do a job swap and perform stand-up, in two days, at North Hollywood’s legendary Ha Ha Comedy Cafe. Can I find a wine Gina will love, and some jokes that will make her laugh?

It’s a road trip that takes us through the Santa Rita Hills and into the wine-making country made famous by the film Sideways. After a glass of fizz at the famous “Hitching Post” we head into the vines. Thanks to the cooling winds off the Pacific, this is perfect territory for supple Pinot Noir and bright Chardonnay. But Gina’s palate isn’t the easiest to please. And my jokes don’t help much either.

Then it’s into Santa Barbara itself. The Funk Zone is a vibrant neighbourhood of coffee shops, wine tasting rooms and small businesses. For me it’s a great opportunity to understand Gina’s palate, picking our way through different grapes and wine styles. For Gina it’s a great opportunity to road-test my stand-up on strangers.

I have twenty-four hours to find a wine that Gina says is delicious. And jokes that Los Angelinos say are funny. It’s not looking good…

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