By Scott Nossen

Sporting pajama pants and dreadlocks, faux kiddy show host Uncle Howard instructs his audience on how to make a pipe using only an apple and a pen. Earning his fair share of laughs (and groans) with an act that included a self-gratifying sweat sock named "Jacko," Howard was one of five standup-up comedians to take the stage Thursday at Front Street’s E3 Playhouse. Although the shows are open to all-ages, Howard’s act isn’t for the Sesame Street crowd. From politics to religion, no subject was taboo. Wes Anthony, owner of E3, began scheduling the weekly comedy nights three months ago. Word of mouth has boosted the show’s popularity, helping it draw upwards of 50 comedy fans each week.E3, which stands for "Entertainment/Education/Eatery," is a fitting home for standup comedy. Although you can’t eat it, comedy entertains and educates. "We need comedy with all this bad news [in the world]" Anthony said. "And it’s good for me because I do music all week, the comedy breaks it up. I love to laugh."The shows are booked by Bay Area comedian Sean Stryker who also shares master of ceremonies (MC) duties. The MC is the host of the show, starting with a brief set and returning to introduce each comedian. "Comedy is about building community," Stryker says. If the show is good "[The audience] will remember that night for years." Stryker makes it his mission to build these lasting memories by booking people whom he feels are among the best headliners in the Bay Area. Stryker said he "brings a show to the people that they may not have seen on TV, but [they’re] just as good if not better."Last Thursday at 8:00 pm was no exception. Offering insights on topics ranging from Frisbee golf to the Bush administration, comedian after comedian dodged the occasional drunken heckler and left the audience in stitches. One such comedian was local favorite DNA. And yes, that’s how his name appears on his driver’s license. DNA wasn’t carrying his license Thursday, however. "When I’m drunk I don’t carry my license, that way they can’t get me," DNA said. DNA, who shares the MC slot with Stryker and fellow local comedian B.J. Lynch, got involved with the E3 comedy nights after moving to Aptos four months ago. "We’re developing a scene here," DNA said. "Stryker’s got great comedians coming."B.J. Lynch, the host of last Thursday’s show, developed his act while in Micronesia with the Peace Corps. Lynch has found Santa Cruz to be a valuable and sometimes rough place to hone his act. "[The audience] is going to give it to you straight up," Lynch said. "As a comedian you have to accept that…and jokes about Frisbee work in Santa Cruz but nowhere else."DNA summed up the importance of comedy: "In this time and age it’s hard for us to get truth…and comics are one of the last vanguards of truth. People come in because they’re hungry to laugh, but they’re also hungry to hear something that’s important."For more information visit or head down to 435 Front St.