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OxyMoron Kids Around : O.C. Comedy Troupe Provides Laughs That Are Fit for Children

April 11, 1992|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

FULLERTON — Lorraine Sidwell was pretty happy during her 1 1/2 years as a member of the local comedy troupe, the Orange County Crazies. But there was something that kept bugging her.

"I teach kids acting, and they kept asking when they could see me perform," Sidwell said. "I had to keep putting them off because so much (of what the Crazies do) is notsuitable for children. It's mainly adult stuff that can get pretty blue. . . .

"I began to think that there just isn't any comedy out there where 6-year-olds and your grandparents can have fun and feel comfortable at the same time."

Then Sidwell became pregnant, which took her away from Crazies' rehearsals and gave her more time to think about a solution. That led to her teaming up with fellow Crazies alumnus Michael Lipoma and forming OxyMoron, a Laguna Niguel-based group of seven comics (many used to perform with the Crazies) devoted to family-style entertainment that aims to be, as its programs points out, "99 1/2%" G-rated.

There may be "momentary lapses of decorum, (but) when that happens, we're really embarrassed about the whole thing," Sidwell said.

OxyMoron, which first started performing sporadically about a year ago, will appear at the Fullerton Museum Center tonight and May 16. Sidwell said she hopes to make the center shows a regular event but will have to wait and see if the group's popularity continues.

"We've really had good turnouts, with a pretty steady mix of parents with their kids and then just people coming on their own. Of course, you never know about these things.

"I think there's a place for OxyMoron out there, but you never know if it will be big (enough to sustain). We're just enjoying ourselves and counting on the best."

Sidwell, who pointed out that she and the other former Crazies left that group on good terms, said OxyMoron not only differs from the Crazies in emphasizing family-oriented material. It also veers away from " 'Saturday Night Live'-type skits and scenes," instead sticking exclusively to improvisation.

OxyMoron's members prefer it that way ("We really have the opportunity to be creative and well, silly, really") and all the impromptu shenanigans tend to appeal to kids, she said.

Typically, OxyMoron follows the formulas of most improvisation groups by asking audience members for suggestions on themes and characters. They take it from there, letting the spirit move them in any way that seems funny. Children are often asked for their ideas as starting points and, occasionally, brought into the act.

And what if someone tosses out a risque idea? "If there's something off-color in it, we're pretty adamant about rejecting it. We'll just laugh it off and then go on. If they push it, we say something like 'Hey, there are kids here--cool it, OK?' "

Sidwell is also the first to concede that OxyMoron may not always be the most cerebral comedy around. The troupe focuses on physical, almost slapstick humor, the type that she believes has a wider audience.

"I certainly don't think our humor is stupid or anything; we can be sophisticated at times," she said. "But you have to remember our audience. I think parents enjoy what we do, though. (Our inspirations) would be the Three Stooges and Monty Python, and who doesn't love them?"

\o7 OxyMoron performs tonight at 7:30 at the Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave., Fullerton. $6 and $8. (714) 738-6545.\f7

FOUR-LETTER COMIC

Pauly Shore's fans are young, but he gets no G rating. F2.

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