San Francisco Celebrates Campus Street Comedian

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SAN FRANCISCO—A Berkeley street comedian known for his weekly performances near Sather Gate was honored yesterday at San Francisco City Hall, as a resolution was passed recognizing his contributions to the Bay Area and proclaiming a day in his name.

Nov. 14, 2007 has been dubbed “Stoney, A Clown Who Rabble Rouses In Defense of Free Speech, Day”, in honor of performer and satirist Stoney Burke.

The resolution was introduced by Gerardo Sandoval, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a UC Berkeley alumnus who graduated in the 1980s.

Sandoval first met Burke when the former was a UC Berkeley freshman in 1980.

“He was a class I took every semester that I was at Berkeley,” Sandoval said. “He was a great way to relax and have fun. I learned a lot listening to him.”

Sandoval’s proposal was met with general support from the board, which Burke said was a “great honor.”

“I am not a big movie star,” Burke said. “It is a great honor after 30 years for (Sandoval) to remember and to have a day like this.”

During the Board of Supervisors meeting, Burke, a San Francisco native, spoke about how his parents shaped him.

“Back in 1961 my dad invited African Americans over for dinner. In the morning, there was a bullet through my dad’s mailbox,” Burke said. “My dad didn’t change that mailbox in 50 years.”

Burke also spoke about his proposal for world peace, which he calls the One Million Soapboxes plan.

“Build a million (soapboxes). Everyone gets five minutes (to talk). Push button, light goes on, sound, time’s up,” Burke described. “We share the space.”

Burke, who often speaks about political issues in his regular performances at UC Berkeley, is known for being sometimes abrasive.

“I am a street performer, satirist, clown, free speecher, activist, humanist, left of Kennedy,” he said. “I am a fundamental free-speecher. I want the right to go out and rabble rouse.”

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