HAYWARD -- Don't plan anything for the day after this show because, warns Brian Copeland, "you will be exhausted and hoarse from laughter after seeing all these heavy hitters."

Brian Copeland and friends' "Stand-Up for Champions" is a star-studded lineup of Bay Area legends of comedy coming together for an evening of laughter to raise money for his alma mater, Moreau Catholic High School.

You'd have to go to six different comedy shows to see all of these headliners, Copeland says.

"There's not a weak link in this chain," he says of the talent, featuring the diverse styles of Chicago Steve Barkley, a $10,000 winner of ABC's "America's Funniest People"; political comedian Will Durst; Mark Pitta, who grew up in San Lorenzo and appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno; Laurie Kilmartin, an Emmy award winner and writer for Conan O'Brien's show; Johnny Steele, a winner of the 17th annual San Francisco International Comedy Competition; and Bob Sarlatte, who has appeared on "Late Night With David Letterman."

The show will start at 8 p.m. Friday in the school's Teves Theater at 27170 Mission Blvd., Hayward.


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Copeland, an actor, comedian, radio talk show host, playwright, author and stand-up comedian, grew up in San Leandro. After graduating from Moreau in 1982, he went to Tommy Thomas, his CYO baseball coach and owner of Tommy T's, to try his hand at stand-up comedy.

"Comedy chose me, and I got hooked," Copeland says. "I found my comedic voice and started to talk about things that matter."

The "instant gratification with no filter" is what Copeland says he finds the most appealing about his art form. "I know from moment to moment how I'm doing. I don't have to wait for ratings."

Comedy, Copeland says, "has always been to me a respite from the stresses and horrors of everyday life."          

"To me, the best comedy is able to take a look at a very serious issue but make you laugh at it and think about it at the same time ... with that laughter being that spoonful of sugar," he says.

Copeland's comedy takes on racism in his highly acclaimed one-man show, "Not a Genuine Black Man," the longest-running solo show in San Francisco history, which he wrote in 2004.

In it he talks about growing up African-American in San Leandro at a time when the city was considered one of the nation's most racist. The 10th anniversary presentation of the show is schedule this spring at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Copeland also found comic relief in his own battle with depression in "The Waiting Period," and attacks privilege and government regulation and the events around the Santos Linguisa Factory triple homicide in "The Scion," now playing at The Marsh in San Francisco.

"I find a way to find humor in these things and surrounding circumstances and turn the topic inside out to get people to think about these issues in a critical way," he said.

Everyone on Friday night's bill "will attack some of the sacred cows," he says.

"Comedians and the press, the Fourth Estate, we shine a light on the powerful and hold them accountable." That's not happening much any more, he adds.

Copeland's return to his old school is a fundraiser for the Moreau's Campaign for Champions to build a new athletic and student activities complex. The school plans a state-of-the-art, all-weather artificial turf football/soccer field to replace its almost 50-year-old grass field. The school also plans an all-weather, eight-lane track to replace its dirt track, and new bleachers to accommodate as many as 1,500 spectators.

"The football program has vastly improved over the last few years," Copeland says. "In order to further improve that program, you need a first-class facility."

While at Moreau, Copeland was involved in the theater and student government. He was freshman class president and student body vice president in his senior year.

Copeland's three children have also graduated from the school, which displays in its lobby his 2010-11 Emmy Award for outstanding achievement as talk show host of KGO's "7Live" talk show.

Copeland said he wants the students to know that "a little boy from San Leandro won it. If I can do that, you can do that."

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COMEDY BENEFIT SHOW

Brian Copeland comedy show to benefit Moreau Catholic High School's sports complex renovation featuring Copeland, Chicago Steve Barkley, Will Durst, Laurie Kilmartin, Mark Pitta, Johnny Steele and Bob Sarlatte. 8 p.m. Friday, Teves Theatre, Moreau Catholic High School, 27170 Mission Blvd., Hayward
Tickets are $45 general; $75 for pre-show reception and special seating, $130 adds post-show reception with Copeland and friends.
The show is recommended for age 14 and older.
Tickets available at the door or at www.moreaucatholic.org/standup.