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Jason Stuart's Routine Packs an Off-the-Wallop

December 19, 1991|DENNIS McLELLAN | Dennis McLellan is a Times staff writer who covers comedy regularly for O.C. Live!

Wearing a gaudy cowhide coat, Jason Stuart steps on stage and laments, "Oh, God. I'm so nervous being here, I've been eating and eating and eating and I feel like I look like a cow! "I was recently in South Carolina, which scared the hell out of them. And I got off the plane there and I was wearing this coat and this guy tried to shoot me. . . . And then he tied me to the side of the car . . . which I really liked! I said, 'I'm not an animal; I'm a human being'--John Hurt, 'The Elephant Man,' thank you. "

The off-the-wall bit sets the tone for the off-the-wall humor of Stuart, who's headlining at Comedy Land in the Pan Pacific Hotel in Anaheim on Friday and Saturday night.

Stuart, who describes his comedy style as a cross between Bobcat Goldthwait and Sandra Bernhard, says his comedic role model was Lily Tomlin. Not that Stuart creates a Tomlinesque cast of characters on stage.

"I feel I'm enough of a character as it is," he said with characteristic understated exaggeration akin to the late Paul Lynde.

Actually, Stuart does do an impression of a "Star Search" singing contestant in his act (think of Sam Harris' overly emotional rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow").

"It's very melodramatic, very crazy, and it's a sight to see," Stuart explained, refusing further elaboration: "Come to the show, for God's sakes!"

It turns out Stuart appeared on the TV talent contest show three times in 1987 before losing. And, as he points out, he holds the distinction of being "the first person in the history of 'Star Search' to stamp my foot when I lost and walk off."

Did he do it as a joke or was it sincere?

"Oh, please, " Stuart said. " 'Star Search,' gee, whiz. "

Stuart said his distinctive stage persona, "is a side of me. It's more the outrageous side of me. I'm much more quiet as a person. I'm not really very rambunctious in real life, but on stage . . . I'm a bad boy and I need to be spanked."

His act has changed quite a bit since he started doing stand-up eight years ago, he said. "I used to have a whole different physical look: I was 25 pounds heavier, had spikey hair and I wore crazy clothes. Now all the craziness is more in the act."

He's also gotten more political on stage over the years: "I'm much more conscious of what's going on today. I think I need to take a responsibility. There's just so many things going on you can't help but talk about it.

"Like this Korean woman who got five years probation for killing this black girl. There was a guy who shot a dog and got six months in jail. It's crazy. If I shot a Korean woman who has a dog, what would I get? Three and half months in jail? I have to feed the dog and I get a bad haircut?"

"It's crazy what's happening today. Safe sex is very important, I think, now. I think all the women should have themselves laminated. "

In his act, Stuart talks about his childhood. He was born in the Bronx but grew up in Beverly Hills. Well, he concedes, not actually in Beverly Hills: "Adjacent. Close enough to have a maid once a week and, yes, a gardener.

"I grew up in a dysfunctional family. Oh, what a surprise! My parents were divorced, which is the law in Los Angeles. My parents ripped each other off and my father started dating other people. Gro-o-o-ss!"

Stuart, who once described his act as "a celebration of being different," was a self-described "dork" as a child ("I still am," he says). On stage, he asserts that the world is divided between the dorks and the Barbies and Kens: "Barbies and Kens are really cute people. They've had easy lives and when they come to my show they must pay! "

Stuart actually started in show business as an actor and, he said, he's still an actor. He had a recurring role on TV's since-canceled "Sunset Beat" last season and he played a hairdresser in "Kindergarten Cop." Stuart noted that he also has appeared as a celebrity panelist on "Match Game." (When introduced on the show, he confessed: "I'm so excited, I don't know whether to kill myself or go bowling.")

But after appearing on "Match Game," Stuart recalled, "I had to rethink my entire career. I was sitting next to Charles Nelson Reilly and going, 'This could happen to me.' "

Who: Jason Stuart.

When: Friday, Dec. 20, and Saturday, Dec. 21, at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.

Where: Comedy Land in the Pan Pacific Hotel, 1717 S. West St. Anaheim.

Whereabouts: Take the Katella exit off the Santa Ana (5) Freeway and go west. Turn right on West Street. The Pan Pacific Hotel is next to the Disneyland Hotel.

Wherewithal: $5.

Where to Call: (714) 979-5653.

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