Comedian Gina Yashere is constantly confusing Americans with her British accent.
“Most people don’t realize that there are black people in England,” says Yashere. “The general perception is that I’m Australian, that I’m Aborigine. And it’s not just white Americans; it’s black Americans too. It’s hard for them to compute it.”
Yashere — who is taping her performance Saturday at Brava Theater for a new DVD “Laughing to America” — now lives in Los Angeles, but grew up in London in a British-Nigerian family.
“People think that England is basically Hugh Grant and the queen,” Yashere quips in a stand-up bit. “But this accent comes in useful, people. For instance, I can tell Americans anything and they believe it.”
Yashere milks the authority for all it’s worth in her “Surly Psychic” routine, shouting at unsuspecting pedestrians in Los Angeles, insisting they get a free psychic reading. The act includes magic hats, tarot cards, Ouija boards and other paraphernalia, but the real humor is in Yashere’s quick wit and resolute delivery.
She firmly states that anyone named “Dwayne” is probably unemployed, informs a retired tourist couple that they will be robbed three times on their way to Mexico (and makes them recite a chant to keep the robbers away), and even gets a grown man to hand over his identification and a credit card — which she then plops on a scanner right under his nose — then predicts his identity will be stolen.
“People always ask me if it’s a setup, but no, these are real people,” Yashere says.
Yashere has appeared on late shows with Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, as well as on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” Her DVD of a previous stand-up show, “Skinny Bitch,” was acclaimed.
Even though she performs regularly in Los Angeles and visits New York comedy clubs every year, she made a special point to record her new act for DVD in San Francisco.
“San Francisco is a better audience,” Yashere says. “They’re real people and they want to laugh and have fun. In L.A. the audience is full of people who want to be comedians and actors. I don’t want people who are too busy looking for where the cameras are to get their good side on. I want the audience concentrating on me.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $18 to $20
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com; www.ginayashere.com