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COMEDY : Reed Finds Himself in the 'Twi-Laugh Zone'

July 18, 1991|DENNIS McLELLAN | Dennis McLellan is a Times staff writer who covers comedy regularly for O.C. Live!

Comedian Don Reed describes his comedy as "complete escapism."

"I don't touch most of the run-of-the-mill subjects that comics tend to hit on," says Reed, who will headline at the Laff Stop in Newport Beach on Saturday and Sunday.

Reed, who prefers to be called a "comedic entertainer," says he chose from the start a decade ago not to simply stand on stage and tell jokes.

"My act is very broad and visual," he said. "I believe you should use whatever is in your arsenal. Therefore, my act comes across as a comedic Molotov cocktail of improvisational theater, characters, sound effects and dance."

Take his E.T. bit, "a one-minute rendition of the entire film" complete with sound effects and bits of dialogue ("E.T., don't die!").

He also does a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. in which, he said, "a guy at a disco is dancing and for no particular reason he turns into Sammy. I can twist my face to look just like him. I call it 'The Sammy Davis Disco Transformation.' "

And there's his Kung Fu Theater piece. Reed readily acknowledges there are other comics who do routines that revolve around how badly Asian kung fu movies are dubbed into English, but he puts a different spin on it. Other comics, he said, "tend to make a sound, stop, and then move their mouth. I do it both at the same time, like a ventriloquist."

Reed's act is fast-paced, prompting him to say he's "like a Rolodex of comedy."

"I've chosen a road which is harder to hoe, I believe, but in the longer run I feel it will work out for the best to bring a myriad of moments and levels rather that one moment or one level," he said.

All those moments and levels come together in Reed's closing routine, in which he does all of his characters dancing in a disco he calls "The Twi-laugh Zone."

Dancing to recorded music, Reed spins around and, after "stopping on a dime," he turns into one of his characters. It is, he said, "like one huge callback."

There's E.T., "the offbeat man," "the panicking woman," and "the Jamaican guy who took my credit card from me while on vacation."

And then there's Sammy Davis Jr.

Davis, for whom Reed served as opening act four years ago at the Paramount Theater in his hometown of Oakland, has been a role model.

"I learned an awful lot from him," said Reed. "At that time I wasn't doing the dancing closing bit. Sammy used to go on stage and play the drums, twirl pistols, do impressions, sing, dance, act. I realized if you have a broader arsenal to bring to your audience basically why should you leave them hanging with anything less?"

Reed said that the closing to his act "is really strong--to the point where I can't think of anything to top it. If I get an encore I go, 'OK, I better be thinking fast.' "

Who: Don Reed.

When: Saturday, July 20, at 8, 10 and 11:45 p.m.; Sunday, July 21, at 8:30 p.m.

Where: The Laff Stop, 2122 S.E. Bristol St., Newport Beach.

Whereabouts: From the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway, take the Irvine Avenue/Campus Drive exit onto Bristol Street and go south one block.

Wherewithal: $7 to $10.

Where to Call: (714) 852-8762.

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