Is Beer or Laughter the Best Medicine? Try Both, Says Dr. Anna Lepeley

Dr. Anna Lepeley
Dr. Anna Lepeley Photo courtesy of Dr. Anna Lepeley

Dr. Anna Lepeley has a message to deliver and no matter where she goes to deliver it, the message remains the same and is almost always welcomed: beer is good for you. This Friday, the Florida-based lecturer and comedian is delivering the message to beer-drinkers and health nuts at Vollie Ray’s Circus.

Although it’s a message welcomed by suds seekers everywhere, and one supported by scientific research Lepeley’s performed and has committed to the ages in a book titled – what else? Beer Is Good For You —  it’s not the only message she has to deliver. Lepeley’s a budding comic, so she’s pieced together a 40-minute lecture discussing the book’s critical points. That lecture is dotted with antidotes and examples and it’s been a springboard for Lepeley to pursue her true passion: stand-up comedy. She’s pulling double duty at Vollie Ray’s this Friday, she tells us.

“I have the seminar at Vollie Ray’s bar for the Flex & Chill/Shredded by Science conference brought to us by Flex Level Fitness. A really cool guy named Eric Lee Salazar owns it,” she says. “Then, afterward, I'll be headlining the comedy showcase which was supposed to feature other comedians but I haven't had any luck recruiting any on this showcase. For the comedy showcase I get to put the science aside and talk about fingering girls and making fun of all sexualities, straight, bi, gay. My show in Galveston was one of best audiences so I feel like there will be more trips to Houston for beer lovers.”

Lepeley visited Galveston’s Devil and the Deep Brewery earlier this year, the first time she’d brought her touring show to the Houston area. She has a doctorate in exercise biochemistry and nutrition research and the crowd was fascinated by the findings she reached about beer. It all began when she was examining what beverages female weightlifters consume pre-workout. She became an expert in hydration for the study. She found people wanted to know more about beer than hydration.

She shares with audiences how beer is good for one’s bones, how it aids skin health, how its dietary fiber is good for the gut. She said the show is generally booked in breweries and pubs, so she’s often preaching to the choir.

“I've never had an audience member disagree. They're happy to hear the news and research. I have, however, had trolls on the Internet that try to argue it. Everyone's a scientist these days, I guess. They read one headline and think they know it all,” Lepeley said.

click to enlarge Beer "helps you poop," Lepeley notes, sharing a highlight of the lecture - PHOTO COURTESY OF DR. ANNA LEPELEY
Beer "helps you poop," Lepeley notes, sharing a highlight of the lecture
Photo courtesy of Dr. Anna Lepeley

But what about the just-released global study which suggests no amount of alcohol of any kind – including beer – is safe to drink?

“I'm aware of this recent paper in The Lancet journal that ruined everyone's weekend when the headlines were spreading,” she admits. “No need to be sad, though! I have good news for those who attend my seminar as I interpret the findings of this Debbie Downer study along with the abundance of studies that demonstrate the health benefits of beer.”

She adds the no-brainer caveat to her lecture that the fountain of youth isn’t found at the bottoms of too many empty beer mugs. And she’s quick to note drinking and driving puts everyone at risk.

“The second you tell people something is good for them, they think they can just rely on that one thing and/or do it in excess. Hence, why we have so many bullshit supplements and radical diet trends that don't work,” she advised. “In order for beer to be healthy, you have to be healthy. You also have to live a healthy lifestyle with consistent exercise, adequate sleep and other behaviors I discuss in my book and seminar.

“Most importantly, the key is drinking in moderation. I understand people will drink in excess, hopefully only once in a while. Just understand that the result you get from that is a hangover, an awful tattoo and probably herpes. Research suggests a number of health benefits of beer and alcohol but only when consumed in moderation and in healthy populations. I reiterate this throughout my book and my seminar. Beer's health benefits are just complementary if you take good care of yourself and are healthy overall.

“Another common question I get asked is why I don't drink at my seminars. I get to try the breweries' beer, one of my favorite parts of this tour, however, I'm very against drinking and driving, touching your phone while driving or touching yourself while driving. Perhaps Uber or Lyft can sponsor my tour.”

She’s only part-joking about sponsorship. She’s fortunate to network on the road and met Flex Level Fitness’s Salazar at the Galveston lecture, which helped her return to the area for this Friday’s events. Lepeley says she favors fruity beers (“But not too fruity. I'm not four years old”) and wants to drink in places like Canada, the U.K. and Germany, while delivering the "beer is good" message.

Lepeley says her Instagram is a good representation of her stand-up act.

“If you're socially conservative and only like clean humor, I don't suggest you follow me,” she warns.

The stand-up may seem like an afterthought because she’s gaining a reputation for the lecture, but it’s her true love.

“I'm married to stand-up comedy. When I get booked in a city, I try to get booked on a local comedy show or three, if time allows,” she said. “I've opened for Steve-O, Julie Goldman, and Chaunté Wayans, all great, awesome comedians and good people. I'd like to get to know the Houston scene more and I know I'll need more time. Perhaps next trip.

“I also produce and host a comedy show where I recruit local male comedians to perform in drag for what we think is their first time. That show is a riot,” she said. “These guys end up loving dressing in drag and chicks dig it. They get a lot of numbers by the end of the night. They also lose their phones and wallets once they realize dresses don't come with pockets.”

Dr. Anna Lepeley presents Beer is Good for You, an evening of comedy and beer, 5 p.m. Friday, October 19 at Vollie Ray’s Circus, 937 Dixie Farm Road in Pearland. 21 and up, free.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.