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COMEDY : The 'Love Goddess' Will Reappear, Offering More of Her, Uh, Blessings

January 24, 1991|MARK CHALON SMITH | Mark Chalon Smith is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

It's been a year since Judy Tenuta used the Irvine Improv for her own revival meeting, turning the slick club into a temple of Judy-ism .

Well, converts (especially men, christened "stud puppets" and "love hogs" by their high priestess) have reason to rejoice. Come Tuesday, Tenuta--or "the petite flower," or "love goddess," as she likes to be called--will be there to lead another service. The Gospel According to Judy will be reprised the next night.

Anyone charmed by last year's shows realizes Tenuta's uniqueness. Usually dressed in some bizarre chiffon number and with a voice that veers from Miss Piggy purr to trucker with a bad attitude, she preaches undying devotion to Judy and all her tenets.

The main rule: I promise to destroy all hogs who do not worship Judy .

Heretics can expect an onslaught of abuse and, worse, a few bars from her omnipresent accordion, a Tenuta icon that has the name JUDY emblazoned across the front. As Tenuta deadpanned about her followers during an interview: "They realize that I'm the one true religious leader. . . . An insult from me is like a blessing from above."

Bad taste aside, it really can be a funny shtick--especially when stereotyping and power scams mix with a little sex, a little dominance, a little dependency, and a lot of foolishness.

Tenuta has traditionally been tight-lipped about her own background, but this much is known: She's 35, grew up in Chicago and held a bunch of jobs (from meat wrapper to manufacturer of nuns' and priests' clothes, she says) before taking an improvisation course offered by the Second City comedy troupe.

When not pushing the love-goddess theme, Tenuta tosses out anecdotes about her family and a variety of observations, some of them even political. During her Improv shows last year, she reminded everybody that George Bush "suffers from Reaganheimer's disease" and always "sounds authoritative, like Mr. Rogers but without male hormones."

Who: Judy Tenuta.

When: Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 29 and 30, at 8:30 p.m.

Where: The Improv, 4255 Campus Drive, Irvine.

Whereabouts: Take the San Diego Freeway to Jamboree Road and head south. Go east on Campus Drive to Bridge Road. The Improv is across from UC Irvine.

Wherewithal: $10.

Where to Call: (714) 854-5455.

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