Grasping the microphone and keeping a straight face, Kevin Jordan said he quit the Los Angeles Police Department mainly for health reasons.
"I found out I was allergic to doughnuts," the former officer told a receptive crowd at the L.A. Cabaret Comedy Club in Encino.
A wiry black man, Jordan was launching into a routine that draws on his 3 1/2 years as a police officer, much of it in the San Fernando Valley. The act has taken him to clubs all over the country in what he hopes is the beginning of a successful career in the tough business of making people laugh.
"I remember my first day at the academy," the 27-year-old Jordan says frequently as part of his routine. "A sergeant came in and told us, 'There is no "black" here at LAPD. There is no "white" here at LAPD. Just men in blue. Now I want you to get up here and line up. All the light blue men in the front, all the dark blue men in the back.' "
Not Such a Great Cop
Although he has high hopes for his career as a comedian, Jordan is the first to admit that he wasn't such a great cop, and his superiors at the Police Department agree that the citizens of Los Angeles are far better off with Jordan as a comic than as a cop.
For one thing, as Jordan told the crowd at the L.A. Cabaret, he hated giving traffic tickets--except to "big, burly macho guys."
Affecting an effeminate manner, Jordan got a round of laughter as he sashayed up to an imaginary car. His wrist dangling, he said in a mincing voice to the occupant: "Slut!"
Then, teasingly, "Hi, fella." Shaking a finger, "You were speeding. Going much, much too fast. Now, I need to see your driver's license and registration." Pretending to scan the license, "Oh! You're a Pisces! Just go, go! "
(Jordan swears that he actually pulled this routine on several drivers he stopped while on duty.)
Called on the Carpet
At one time, Jordan juggled his police and comedy careers--with mixed results.
Says retired Los Angeles Police Capt. Roy Randolph, Jordan's former commanding officer: "He would have been a good candidate for the movie 'Police Academy.' He exhibited the same lack of common sense. He was called on the carpet more often than anybody else" in the Van Nuys Division.
Randolph wasn't the only one of Jordan's supervisors to be alarmed by his behavior.
At one point, Jordan was working nights doing stand-up comedy at the now-defunct Playboy Club in Century City. Afterward, he would report to work as a patrolman on the graveyard shift in the streets of West Los Angeles, the division in which the club is located.
Jordan's commanding lieutenant thought that his lampooning of the Police Department could undermine his authority.
"What happens if you're out patrolling and you pull someone over, and he's just seen your show?" the lieutenant reportedly asked Jordan.
"I told him, 'If he liked the show, I'd let him go on his way. If he didn't, I'd give him a ticket,' " Jordan said.
One of a crop of shorter-than-average officers allowed on the force when the department lowered its height standards to recruit more women and minorities, Jordan had trouble reaching the gas pedal of his patrol car, one of his ratings reports noted.
Once, when Jordan was driving without a partner, a citizen called the police station to report that a little kid had stolen a police car, Jordan said.
Or there's this story, now part of Jordan's routine, about working with a woman partner:
"She was 5-foot-1, 110 pounds. I'm 5-foot-4, 125 pounds. You know, we got out of the car, it was like the Smurfs coming at you: 'OK, put your hands down where I can see them.' "
Jordan admits to being a wise guy who deliberately tweaked his LAPD bosses by alternately flouting the rules and following them "to the letter."
Sergeant Not Amused
He kept a thesaurus handy to sprinkle his written reports with baffling words that sent his sergeants to the dictionary. Or he deliberately wrote in very small print.
He once was chastised for pulling over a motorist in the middle of summer--the temperature was 95 degrees--while wearing a winter jacket. His sergeant did not think it was funny.
The department's irritation with Jordan was brought to a head when it was discovered that he had several thousand dollars' worth of unpaid parking tickets.
That was "the--shall we say-- climactic occurrence that caused him to be removed from the department," Randolph said.
Police officials further discovered that Jordan had not registered his car, and that Jordan's failure to pay the tickets had resulted in 30 to 40 warrants being issued for his arrest, Randolph said.
Asked about this, Jordan said sheepishly: "I procrastinated."
A native of Queens, N.Y., Jordan came to Los Angeles in 1981 with a bit of amateur comic experience, a communications degree and dreams of becoming a professional comedian. Several months of living at the Hotel Frontier on Skid Row while struggling to land paid comedy jobs prompted Jordan to answer an ad for a well-paying job as a Beverly Hills police officer. The department rejected him, but the Los Angeles police were hiring.
"Isn't that just the perfect jump, from cop to comedian?" Jordan asked as he waited to go on stage at the Encino club recently. "You spend all day telling people what they can't do and giving them tickets, and then at night you're entertaining them. It's like squaring it with yourself."