The wacky, wonderful world of "Rubes" will spring from page to stage when the comic's creator, Leigh Rubin, makes a benefit appearance Saturday at the Gallo Center for the Arts.
Rubin's work is distributed by Creators Syndicate to more than 400 media outlets worldwide, including The Bee and, because of his predilection for including cattle and other barnyard animals in his comic, Farm Progress, Farm Journal, Beef magazine and Western Dairy Business. "What can I say — I like cows!" Rubin says.
The Nipomo-based humorist is donating his time for the Gallo fund-raiser, and his program — "A Twisted Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste" — offers a laugh-out-loud look at his creative process as he aims to inspire creativity in others. Rubin sometimes refers to himself as a sit-down comic and says Saturday's appearance will bring "a guaranteed at least 135 laughs, and hopefully a lot more than that." The multimedia presentation's about "looking at the world differently," he says, "finding humor in any situation that you can imagine, good, bad, or ugly, from paying bills to raising kids. ... How everyday things can be inspiring and funny."
Rubin twice has appeared at The Bee, delighting his audiences in the newspaper's intimate C.K. McClatchy Room. Asked how he adapts his show to much-bigger venues, such as the 400-seat Foster Theater, he deadpans, "bigger microphone."
"I've played to audiences of three and up to as many as 600," he adds. "To me, it's all the same. It's more of a party the more people that are there, but I've had smaller groups that are really enthusiastic, too. I just really enjoy it, and peopleseem to really get a kick out of it, too."
Rubin began his cartooning career in 1978 by establishing his own greeting card company, Rubes Publications. In 2009, he celebrated the 25th anniversary of the "Rubes" comic with the publication of "The Wild and Twisted World of Rubes," a best-of collection that contains 240 of his personal favorites out of more than 9,500 cartoons.
Last year, Rubin told The Bee, in typical tongue-in-cheek style: "To become an official 'Rubes' cartoon, a drawing must pass a battery of strict tests. In addition, my wife must give it the final approval. If she says it's 'sick,' then I know I have a winner.
"Additionally, part of the process is to just let my mind wander as I doodle away. Sometimes it sneaks out of my mental back yard unsupervised and goes to some very strange places. Some of those places — how do I put this delicately — contain material that would be considered inappropriate for a family newspaper, which is a shame because there's some really funny stuff that will never see the light of day. I call those ideas 'career enders' and they are best left undrawn."
Rubin's Gallo Center appearance was set up by Chief Executive Officer Lynn Dickerson after she heard him speak before her Rotary Club last year. "My son Ryan was a huge fan of his," she says (Ron and Lynn Dickerson's son Ryan died in a swimming accident in the summer of 2007 at age 18). "It was bittersweet to hear him speak because Ryan would have enjoyed it."
She's sure the Gallo Center audience will, too.
And to people who are on the fence as to whether to attend or not, Rubin has just this to say: "Do they want to tell their grandkids they missed this event? What shame they would have. It's like 'I could have gone to Woodstock.' "
Leigh Rubin: "A Twisted Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste"
• WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
• WHERE: Foster Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
• TICKETS: $12-$20
• CALL: (209) 338-2100
• ONLINE: www.galloarts.org