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Club 88 Should 86 the Ethnic Jabs

April 15, 1993|ROSE APODACA | Rose Apodaca is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to The Times Orange County Edition.

As the rave movement continues to embrace ideals of unity--and as nightclub owners continue to find that lucrative--it's odd to find a club catering to blacks on one evening and whites on another. Didn't the government ban segregation a few decades ago?

Granted, Club 88 in Irvine--where a comedy show is followed by dancing every Sunday and Tuesday night-- is open to all races and cultures looking for one-stop nightclub action.

But woe to a white who dares attend a Sunday Laff Jam, which has become one of O.C.'s premier draws for buppies. Most of the comedians (many who have appeared at the Apollo in Harlem and on the HBO Comedy Def Jam) immediately single out white people, assuming they're either redneck hicks or, if they're women, overcome with jungle fever. And woe to any Mexican or Korean on Tuesdays, when the white folks are on stage.

At times, ethnic humor can enlighten one group about another's attitudes or suffering. But too many of the jokes at Club 88 rely on cliches and stereotypes such as, yawn, the Asian driver, the Muslim working the convenience store and the Latino who wins the lottery. And that doesn't even touch the gay jokes.

One, two, even three performers spouting such diatribe might be digestible (free speech and all that) but more than half a dozen on either night going up and spewing the same old, same old is highly unimaginative at best.

The first half of each show features fledgling comics; the second includes "names." Could at least the more savvy write something original, please?

Whereas the end of the comedy show signals the end of the night for most of the Tuesday patrons, folks on Sundays tend to stay warmed up and ready to take over the dance floor. And when the floor gets too crowded, the stage suits them fine.

Then again, the Tuesday night party is less than a month old and still is developing a following, versus Sunday's which has been kicking for nine months.

Anyway, on Sundays, hip hop, pop and rap dominate the playlist. On Tuesdays, KROQ-FM 106.7 is a sponsor and the tunes reflect its mainstream/alternative playlist. Occasionally, the station will send one of its "personalities." Last week the Poorman hosted a game in which two of eight participants got pie tins full of whipped cream in the face and the others won such items as concert tickets, a T-shirt and a cold fish.

The oh-so illustrious Poorman also tossed out promotional compact discs, much to the excitement of the recipients--until they got a look at the names of the "up-and-coming" bands on the cover and looks of bewilderment came over them ("Have you ever heard of. . . .").

The Tuesday gig also offers Thomas Toth, an amiable magician who visits each table, interacting with patrons, performing tricks and twisting balloons. While Toth does his thing (from 6:30 to 8 p.m.), there's a happy hour with Brie and other cheeses, sliced veggies and spicy wings. Get there early because it goes fast. The $2 drink specials also halt at 8 p.m., when prices double.

Tip: Bring two cans of food either night and get $2 off the cover. The Club's dress code is "tastefully relaxed," i.e. no tank tops.


At the Radisson Plaza Hotel, 18800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine.

(714) 999-3236.

Laff Jam is every Sunday night; $10 cover. The KROQ Comedy Dance Party is every Tuesday night; $8 cover. Shows start at 8:30, followed by dancing from 10:45 till 2.

21 and over with ID.

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