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COMEDY : Favorites From His 'Toy Chest'

August 05, 1993|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to The Times Orange County Edition.

Whereas most comedians would have trouble coming up with enough material for a 90-minute show, Kip Addotta has to decide what to leave out.

The stand-up veteran figures he has about seven hours of comic material, the product of more than 20 years in the business.

"I had the feeling that every time I went out, someone would be disappointed that I didn't do a certain bit," Addotta said in a phone interview from his home in Hollywood. "People would come up to me and say, 'Why didn't you do the other thing?' "

As a way of working more bits into his stage appearances, he recently developed an expanded show that dispenses with opening acts and features Addotta, joined by pianist and comic Jackie Diamond, in an act he calls "Two Tuxedos and a Grand." It comes to the Coach House tonight.

"I went to the toy chest and pulled out my favorite toys . . . and put them into a 90-minute show," Addotta said. "The show is very well received. I really look forward to doing it."

Besides Addotta's stand-up routines, the show will spotlight some of the novelty tunes he has written and recorded over the years, such as "Wet Dream," "Big Cockroach" and "Life in the Slaw Lane."

"Wet Dream," in particular, was a novelty when it was released in 1985. Contrary to the somewhat racy title, the song is a five-minute string of marine puns that demonstrates Addotta's fascination with wordplay.

Well, the place was crowded. We were packed in like sardines.

They were all there to listen to the big band sounds of Tommy Dorsal. What sole!

Tommy was rocking the place with a very popular tuna--"Salmon-chanted Evening."

("When I do the pun thing, I have to do an orgy of puns," Addotta once told The Times).

He has occasionally performed the tunes as part of his stage act, but always a cappella or to taped backing. This is the first time he has performed to live accompaniment. Diamond, his accompanist, is also a stand-up comic ("It's the strangest act you've ever seen," Addotta says) and the interplay between Diamond and Addotta is an integral part of the act.

Addotta, an observational comic who occasionally strays into blue material, started his career at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles in 1972. He became a familiar face to television viewers as one of the regulars on "Make Me Laugh," a popular reprise of a '50s game / variety show that debuted in 1979.

Then, he says, he could just show up at a club and that would have been enough. "The audience loved it, but I know that much of that love came from the fact that they had just seen me on TV," he said. "Now, they didn't see me last night."

That means he has to work harder on his act, but he thinks it makes him a better comedian.

"When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I'm an entertainer," he said. "I really, consciously want to surprise and entertain the audience. That's my goal."

These days, Addotta travels about one week out of the month, and the rest of the time stays home to work on writing projects, local gigs and regular appearances on cable comedy shows. That's a slowdown from his longtime travel schedule: "For 15 years, I did nothing but get on planes. . . . I was out there as much as anyone and more than most."

Although he has no regrets about those days, he is now more "philosophical" at age 49, and "treating the business with a bit of sanity," he said.

"I'm working out, writing scripts, keeping tan, staying in town," he said. "I'm everything that a 49-year-old man is--except I'm pretty."

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