Jerry Seinfeld at the Improvisation in Irvine (July 14): You're still nagged by the feeling that he's holding back emotionally, that he doesn't tap into the trickier, more painful part of his experiences the way the most affecting comics do. But he was definitely "on" this night. And if there was any doubt about the quantity or quality of his material, he did another great--and entirely different--set two nights later.
-- Cathy Ladman at the Laff Stop in Newport Beach (Dec. 16): Ladman has such clever, well-written material and such a breezy, unassuming delivery that it'd be easy to overlook just how good she is; her act seems effortless, like Magic Johnson leading a fast break. But she is exceptional, and though she hasn't clicked yet, it seems inevitable that she will--and probably soon. So this show had the feel of watching a talented, skilled performer on the verge of a big breakthrough.
-- Emo Philips at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano (May 9): Philips also played the Improv recently, but there were a few traits that made this show stronger. First, although crowds at rock clubs generally respond differently (i.e, not as well) to comedy, this was a great audience--loaded with Emo-philiacs. Consequently, perhaps, Emo was in top form. And one downside about Emo (that also gave this show the edge over his Improv stand): For all his inventive, intelligent material, his act obeys the law of diminishing returns; he's a bit less funny the more you see him--unlike a Seinfeld, a Leno or even a Lubel.