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UCI's Rookie Humorists Deliver the Laughs While Opening for the Known Commodity

February 04, 1988|DUNCAN STRAUSS

We pretty much knew, give or take a joke, how headliner Jay Leno would do Tuesday night. But what about the opening act: the UCI Comedy Club, as represented by members Tom Martin, Steven Franks and Phil Fleischmann? How did they do?

The UCI student and two recent grads, picked from 15 club members who had tried out, were appearing before an audience that was anywhere from twice to 20 times the size of the largest crowd any of them had played to previously. But apparently unfazed by the cavernous confines of the Bren Events Center, the locals went over just fine, thank you.

Of course, the results were slightly skewed by the introductions they received from master of ceremonies Jim Birge, the Comedy Club's founder-adviser. While Birge made jokes at their expense ("They are student comedians, so consequently, they're kinda bad"), the overall effect was to bring audience expectation down to an appropriate level--and to get the crowd pulling for the kids.

But even though Martin, Franks and Fleischmann were stepping into a particularly friendly, supportive atmosphere to deliver their 4-minute sets, they easily could have lost that advantage if their jokes had been patently unfunny or poorly performed.

No problem. They elicited reactions that ranged from polite chuckles to outright applause and big, big laughs. They did well. And it sure beat the hell out of studying for a midterm--for people on both sides of the stage.

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