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Spothlight San Diego Arts

Comic Has Bag of Laughs for Holiday Show in S.D. : Comedy

December 16, 1987|HILLIARD HARPER

Christmas is such a magical time--even in San Diego, I would guess. You put algae on the door, maybe."

Thus spake a decidedly off-the-wall Emo Philips in a phone interview last week. Philips said he couldn't wait for his comedy gig this week, through Sunday, at the Improv in Pacific Beach, where he planned to add a seasonal touch such as recollections of his own childhood Christmases when he encountered the inevitable 600-pound aunt, complete with mustache and warts:

"She'd try to give ya a kiss," Philips said, "and you'd say no, and she'd give you a big, fat kiss--slurp! But then, when you'd try to go further with her, she hits you. She's a tease."

Voice cracking vulnerably, Philips wheezed through his darkly absurdist shtick, that varies in tone from madcap, to macabre, to seditious. A bit from his act: "I saw an old woman changing a flat tire, and I walked right by, like everyone else. Then I thought what kind of person am I? So I went back and said, 'Have a nice day.' "

A master of puns and the non sequitur, Philips is not everyone's cup of cole slaw, a dish that figures repeatedly in his routines. After working in the comedy dodge for nine years, the native of Downer's Grove, Ill., a Chicago suburb, became a success with regular appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman" and two albums on the Epic label: the invitational exhibition "E=MO2and "Emo Philips Live from the Hasty Pudding," made from an HBO program.

On how San Diegans should react to Philips:

"I want people to see my show at the Improv and walk out afterwards saying to themselves, 'Well, we got that over with.' "

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