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Henry Cho Wants Y'all to Laugh at His Storytelling

January 13, 1994|GLENN DOGGRELL | Glenn Doggrell writes about comedy for The Times Orange County Edition.

Much has been made about Henry Cho's unique niche in comedy: He's the only full-blooded Korean working the circuit who was born in Tennessee.

He is also very funny, and that's what he prefers to dwell on. Which is why the first thing he does is address his audiences' slack-jawed stares.

"Howdy. How y'all doin'?" Cho typically asks a crowd in his opening remarks. "I know what may be going through your mind right now. Just let it soak in a second or two, because there's something wrong with this picture, ain't there?"

That said, the first-timers in the crowd realize they aren't the brunt of some practical joke; they relax, and the cowboy-booted Cho, who performs at the Brea Improv through Sunday, drawls his way through the rest of the set.

Cho's humor comes more from storytelling than a Gatling gun of jokes. He works friends, family, sports, college days and anything else for laughs.

He takes a jab, for instance, at his father's ongoing struggle with the English language, including the time he asked a waitress for a quickie. "That's quiche, Dad, quiche."

At the Irvine Improv, Chris Rock, now a regular on Fox's "In Living Color," is performing Saturday and Sunday.

Rock got his break in 1987, when his childhood idol Eddie Murphy caught his act at New York's Comedy Strip and asked him to perform on Murphy's HBO special "Uptown Comedy Express."

Since then, the Bedford-Stuyvesant product has moved into movies, including "Boomerang," "New Jack City" and the gangsta rap spoof "CB4," in which he starred. On the TV side, he's probably best remembered as Nat X, the black militant talk-show host on "Saturday Night Live."

Rock is not for the timid or those who like their comedy without an edge. He talks about pimps, abortion, race . . . subjects not readily linked to humor.

Last March in San Juan Capistrano, the comic told the crowd: "It's not Roe vs. Wade, it's broke vs. paid. . . . Are we going to have Timmy, or get cable?"

And that's the mild stuff.

"I like talking about things the other guys aren't talking about," Rock told The Times last year. "Anybody can talk about something that's already really funny and get a laugh out of that. But to take something totally unfunny--something people feel uncomfortable about--and get a laugh out of that, then you're doing something.

Also doing something at the Irvine Improv is Todd Glass, who takes a freewheeling, almost maniacal approach to comedy.

Glass uses his whole body to get his jokes across, including an imitation of his father's smoking that is fast becoming his signature piece. He headlines the bill tonight and Friday, then performs as the middle act for Rock on Saturday and Sunday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, he headlines again before being the middle act for Dennis Wolfberg from Jan. 20 through 23.

In Huntington Beach, Terry Mulroy, the high-energy, fast-talking comic, does a one-evening gig Tuesday at the Centerfield Sports Bar.

Probably best known for imitating aging rock heroes, Mulroy has also entertained crowds on A&E's "Evening at the Improv" as well as at comedy clubs across the country.

In Fullerton, Jerry Dye plays through Sunday at Standing Room Only.

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