In the wide world of stand-up comedy, nobody is quite like Vic Dunlop.
Fans of TV's "Make Me Laugh" in the late '70s will recall Dunlop as one of the show's wackier resident comedians whose job it was to crack up contestants.
There was, for example, the time he dressed up like a baked potato: Wearing tinfoil from head to toe, topped off, naturally, with a dab of sour cream on the top of his head.
In fact, Dunlop holds the "Make Me Laugh" record for making a contestant laugh the fastest: 2 seconds.
Dunlop, who weighed 280 pounds at the time, did it merely by climbing on top of the ledge that separated the contestant from the comedians and then acting like a pigeon.
The comic, who is appearing at the Irvine Improv through Sunday, has slimmed down considerably since then--he now weighs 190--but he's still up to his old comedy tricks.
Take his nun bit, in which he pulls the back of his shirt over his head to become Sister Mary Butch, principal of Our Lady of the Most Vicious Blood High School.
"She's also a biker nun," explained Dunlop, who spent 12 years in Catholic school. "She's got a tattoo on her that says, 'Born to Raise Lazarus.' " But Sister Mary Butch is not Dunlop's most outrageous character. He also does a Dunlopian "Star Wars" takeoff, "Star Juarez." Explains Dunlop: "It's a Mexican science-fiction motion picture that I call a Chicano 'chi fi.' "
Dunlop's comedy philosophy is simple:
"I like to have a party and I include my audience. I don't do a monologue. I'm not a suit-and-tie guy that goes up there. I'm not frantic and I'm not blue. I'm mischievous.
"And boy, do we need it now."
A Vietnam veteran who began his comedy career in 1974 after a series of jobs that included a cleaning business called Godliness Sanitation Co., Dunlop is concerned about the troops in the Persian Gulf.
"I was a little depressed today," he said, explaining that it was triggered by hearing Grand Funk's "Closer to Home" on the radio. He remembers hearing the song just before leaving Vietnam.
"I heard that today and I just felt sorry for those guys and wished I could do something," said Dunlop, who went to Vietnam in 1969 as an infantryman but became a cook for a signal battalion after seven months. ("The Army decided the best way I could help was to cook.")
"Everybody says to me, 'Are you going to do stuff on the war?' There's so much (war coverage) on TV now, everywhere you turn, I'm not going to mention it. At the end of my act, I tell the audience, 'Let's pray for peace and get out of there.' "
Thursday, Jan. 31, at 8:30 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 1, at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 2, at 8 and 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 3, at 8:30 p.m.
The Improv, 4255 Campus Drive, Irvine.
In the Irvine Marketplace shopping center, across Campus Drive from UC Irvine.
$7 to $10.
Where to call