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An Irreverent Version Of The Big March

January 01, 1987|DENNIS McDOUGAL | Times Staff Writer

"Well, we start off the Rose Parade this year with the Marching Mutants of Ollie North Junior High," said that 34-year-old smart-aleck veteran of the Los Angeles airwaves, Frazer Smith. "This year's theme is 'World of Blunders'."

In what has become a New Year's tradition, Smith and a crew of comic sidekicks will lampoon Pasadena's most sacred cow with an irreverent broadcast, beginning at 8:30 a.m. over KLSX-FM (97.1).

As in past years at other radio stations, Smith and company will substitute a bizarre alternative to the staid kind of parade commentary that is normally delivered over local television.

In the Frazer Smith version, for example, Tournament Grand Marshal Pele overeats, undergoes a sex-change operation and becomes the Oprah Winfrey float. Another float, dedicated to Smith, will be made up entirely of white buck shoes, glued together to form a single shoe with Pat Boone waving from the tongue.

"It will actually be walking down Colorado Boulevard," said Smith. "I understand Denny Terrio is very jealous."

The Smith version of the parade features newscaster/equestrian George Putnam winning the coveted Claude Akins denture award, a man-on-the-street interview with horse droppings and all of Frazer Smith's ex-wives forming the Rose Queen's court on the queen's float.

"They'll wave alimony checks as they go by," Smith explained. "They'll be followed by the Marching Mutants marching south on Orange Grove instead of north. We have Gene Hasenfus as drum major this year and Sam Hall will be decked out as a baton twirler, complete with skirt and tassels. And, as you probably know, Ed Zschau will be out there, getting all the band members to form a giant ZSSSS- CHAU ! . . . right there in the middle of Colorado Boulevard."

The Fraze self-confident moxie is a little restrained these days.

The wiseacre material is a little threadbare at times.

When he does comedy club dates, he wears a suit and tie, just like a grown-up, and he comes on stage well-rehearsed with a healthy respect for the manners and minds of his audience. The stand-up routine sometimes sounds a little too much like a stand-up routine, but it's obvious to anyone who has followed his wunderkind Los Angeles comedy career that it is not standard Fraze shoot-from-the-hip ad-libbing.

"The buzz is back," he said. "It's like, we did the office Christmas party last night at the station and the Wolfman (Jack) came up to me and said, 'Wow, man! The thing is back!"

For a time, even Smith admits he had real worries that the thing was gone. Ten years of being fired and hired all over the FM band on Los Angeles radio has given the patented Frazer Smith whine a special seasoning that only the rigors of rising and falling in show biz seems to be able to bestow.

When he breezed into Los Angeles from his native Michigan 10 years ago, Frazer Smith took the town by storm. He did a mix of shtick and new wave music over KROQ-FM (106.7) called "Hollywood Night Shift" that was fresh and funny. It didn't take Smith long to decide he'd break into movies with his own original screenplay--a comedy called "Cool Patrol."

There was a guest shot as a hip young deejay on the old "White Shadow" television series and similar offers from all directions. The snowball was rolling.

Then it slowed and, for a while, it stopped.

"It's funny when your actual career resembles your material," Smith told The Times. "I'm not trying to be just a smart aleck anymore. I'm trying to do a Jack Benny kind of repertory thing, like in the old days of radio. You know? Where Benny was the hero and he surrounded himself with Mary Livingston and Rochester and Don Wilson? You play off of people, but everything focuses back on me. That's kind of what we're doing."

There's no shortage of ego, to be sure.

Whether he's hosting a Rose Parade satire or overseeing his repertory group on his new Saturday-night show on KLSX-FM, Smith makes sure he is the Jack Benny figure. The only permanent cast member who has consistently upstaged him on his weekly 7 to 11 p.m. comedy and rock program, "Saturday Night Fraze," is his mother.

"It's really my mom," he said. "Mrs. Jean Smith, calling me from my home back in Michigan. She's gotten so hip, she wants me to get her an agent now and everything."

Her weekly scolding of her son has turned out so well that Smith is planning to bring his father on as a regular on the show. Both his parents will guest briefly in today's Rose Parade broadcast.

But his mother and father are not his only supporting cast. Smith has learned to temper his rampant ego enough to meet with half a dozen regular foils who do running characters on "Saturday Night Fraze" and help with the writing and rehearsing chores before they actually go on the air. They include:

--Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood and publisher of a monthly magazine of the same name. Masada portrays a hapless Latino character named Buddy Buddy.

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