Comedian Brad Stine paces the stage like a nervous lion in a cage, a mane of shoulder-length blond hair framing his expressive face. He's a comedic Jekyll and Hyde, his voice rising in VOLUME and intensity as he mugs and gestures through his unusual act.
"I look at life and it drives me crazy," he tells his audience. "Leather JACKETS scare me. Think about it: People are wearing dried MEAT for clothing! . . . People are spending $500 to wear beef JERKY around town!"
As Stine says, he doesn't do "the standard monologue kind of thing.
"It's pretty wild, man," the Orange County-based comedian says of his act. "You have to see it. It's just real high energy, a lot of improv. Very unusual.
"Plus, the last 10 minutes of my act are super bizarre."
Indeed, only Stine would bid his audience good night and then feign disappointment: He's worked so hard to make them laugh and it's not ENOUGH for them?
"What do you want me to do, EAT FIRE?" he says sarcastically, lighting two torches and yelling, "Party Time!"
As if speaking for someone in the audience, he says: "Yeah, the comedy's OK, but we wanted a FREAK SHOW!"
After eating fire ("Not enough for you people? What MORE can I do?"), he works his way through eating razor blades, swallowing a steel rod and then--the big finish--he brings out a long string--"nose floss."
But Stine, who is appearing at the Laff Stop in Newport Beach through Sunday, stresses in an interview that he doesn't want just the closing moments of his act emphasized, lest he sound like "some sort of freak."
Actually, in resorting to magic at the end of his act the Orange resident is only returning to his show business roots.
Before making the transition to stand-up comedy three years ago, Stine worked for seven years doing close-up, sleight-of-hand magic in clubs and restaurants throughout Orange County.
And, he said, he was doing "the weird stuff" even then.
One of his first jobs was at Magic Island in Newport Beach, where diners weren't exactly thrilled by the sight of fake blood running out of Stine's mouth when he "ate" razor blades. After patrons complained to management, he recalls, "they wanted to fire me after the first week."
But even as a magician, he says, "I had the ability to make people laugh."
Explains Stine, who will appear on the Showtime Comedy Club Network Nov. 26:
"I try to do on stage what I'd like to see if I went to a show. I like people on the edge of their seats, never really knowing what I'm going to do."