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GOINGS ON : SANTA BARBARA : Home, at Last : Comedian hasn't played Southland in eight years, unless one counts her many airport appearances.

May 10, 1990|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stand-up comedian and cable TV fixture Elayne Boosler hasn't performed in Southern California for about eight years. No big deal? Well, we're talking about a woman who has lived in Los Angeles for the past 13 years.

"I just go to the airport here," she said. "When I was starting I did about 12 million shows here. Now I guess I perform in only 49 states."

That's a fact that makes her May 14 show at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara all the more special. The performance will be the first stop on a 50-concert summer tour she said will take her to places where she has never performed. "From Hawaii to the Catskills," she said. "And I'll probably see the same people in both places on vacation."

Each performance on the tour figures to be unique because Boosler tailors her shows to the area in which she is appearing.

"When I get to a town I'll read the town paper. Then I'll go to the hotel and watch CNN. If I go to a mostly conservative city or a completely Republican city, like I did in Arizona, I go with mostly liberal stuff. I'm not saying I'm right, but it shakes them up . . . and I'll never see them again anyway."

What does she have prepared for Santa Barbara? She's not sure yet, but knows one thing. "Obviously there's more of a West Coast sensibility so I won't talk about subways," she said.

Not only does Boosler wait until she arrives in a town to prepare some of her material, much of the time she waits until she gets up on stage. "That's when I'm in the mood," she said. "I encourage talking back and forth. I can write a joke at home, but I really cook when I'm on stage. My best stuff is in response to someone."

Mixed in with all the more spontaneous material, Boosler is sure to touch on a few of her standard topics. She might be most recognized for the routines she does about her life.

"A show is kind of like going through the day," she said. "You go to the bank. You read the paper. You talk to a friend. You go on a date. The humor comes out of the fact that it is so tragic at times."

And then, of course, there are the topics of the day . . .

Like the state of the world: "Environment stuff is so big," she said. "It's a bandwagon everybody has jumped on. . . . Let's just hope it's unleaded. I'm cutting back. I'm recycling. On Earth Day I stayed home and put Styrofoam covering on my house. What scares me is that hot dogs last 50 years on the ground, but only a week in the fridge."

For her Santa Barbara performance, Boosler will be fresh. But a 50-stop tour can be grueling. It's important that her hotel room accommodations are just right.

"I like hotels where the 'Do not disturb' sign has meaning," she said. "A 'Do not disturb' sign to a housekeeper is like a red cape to a bull. You hang the sign out at two in the morning and wonder, 'Why do I bother? Why am I going through this charade?' It's because there is always hope in man. But sure enough, at 3 a.m. . . ."

And it isn't as though Boosler needs a housekeeper in the first place.

"I like a real filthy room with lots of noise, an unmade bed, food products in the drawer," she said. "I like a room next to the ice machine, where you can hear the ice dropping out one at a time and then you can hear the whole pile drop out. But the machine only starts after midnight, so it doesn't bother anybody during the day when they're not there. A room near a candy machine is good too. It's good to hear people in assorted languages scream for change."

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $17.50. The Arlington is located at 1317 State St. Call 963-4408 for tickets.

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