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COMEDY : Tom McTigue Takes Life--and Runs With It

December 05, 1991|DENNIS McLELLAN | Dennis McLellan is a Times staff writer who regularly covers comedy for O.C. Live!

"It doesn't matter what's going on on the rest of the planet," notes Seattle native Tom McTigue. "If it's raining down here, boy, it's the top story on the news. You flip on the newscast:

"It's RAINING in the Southland! . . . People in Pacoima are WET! . . . Switching live now to Tawny Little and the Action-Cam speaking to some of the victims of the rain. . . . "

McTigue segues into his airhead TV news reporter, asking people: "Gee, what was it like? "

Then, in wide-eyed surfer dudese, his "victim" responds: "Well, I got wet . . . and my dog got wet, too . . . . There was a bunch of water in the air and then . . . rrrah! It landed!"

It doesn't take long to understand why McTigue--who is headlining at the Improv in Brea through Sunday--describes his stand-up comedy style as "observational skewed with a whole lot of surreal images."

"Observational humor basically takes real-life experiences, then just speaks to them," he continued in an interview last week. "If I take real-life experiences, they're so far blown out of proportion, it's obvious I'm going to have to run with them."

Indeed, watch him run with this childhood remembrance:

"When I was younger, we didn't have a lot of money. My mom used to make a lot of clothes for me, but she was into ceramics. . . . Kids used to push me down and break my pants."

Or this take on gang violence:

"It's gotten to be a big problem. There's a minister in L.A. trying to put together the gang Olympics. . . . I'm going to try to get tickets to the drive-by javelin toss."

Actually, McTigue--who has made guest appearances on "Quantum Leap" and "Beverly Hills 90210" and who landed a regular role on the hourlong drama "Baywatch" ("I play Harvey Miller, the wacky, fun-loving, girl-chasing free spirit")--considers himself an actor first, a stand-up comedian second.

He was working as an actor in his home state when he first turned to stand-up nine years ago. "It looked like a lot of fun," he recalls. Besides, "I didn't want to wait tables any more." He honed his comedy in and around Seattle and began doing road work. "I spent about three years pretty close to living out of my car, sleeping in camp grounds, eating chili and crackers and staying in cheap fleabag hotels."

If he had to do it all over again, "I don't know that I'd have the strength or energy to put up with all the failure," he said. "When you're starting out in comedy, you're not funny at all." A stand-up comedian's style, he said, "evolves over time."

These days, McTigue's skewed view of the world includes observations on everything from searing his mouth with a chicken pot pie to Catholicism.

"It's not easy to be Catholic," he says, "because it's our job to develop holidays for the rest of you."

Who: Tom McTigue.

When: Thursday, Dec. 5, at 8:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 6, at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 7, at 8 and 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 8, at 8:30 p.m.

Where: The Improv, 945 E. Birch St., Brea.

Whereabouts: Take the Lambert Road exit off the Orange Freeway and go west. Turn left onto State College Boulevard and right onto Birch Street. The Improv is in the Brea Marketplace, across from the Brea Mall.

Wherewithal: $7 to $10.

Where to Call: (714) 529-7878.

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