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Enough Laughter to Fill a Hard Hat

March 09, 1994|BILL HIGGINS

The Scene: Sunday's eighth annual American Comedy Awards at the Shrine Exposition Hall. The two-hour special will be broadcast on ABC in early May. "It's one of the great award shows," said John Larroquette. "Right up there with 'The Jackson Family Honors.' "

Who Was There: The show was emceed by Chevy Chase, produced by George Schlatter and written by Bruce Vilanch. Among the 1,000 guests, presenters and nominees were Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, Rosie Perez, Lily Tomlin, Sid Ganis, Jack Klugman, Bea Arthur, Rita Rudner, Richard Belzer, Jonathan Winters, Mary Tyler Moore, Jack Carter, Ant, Larry "Bud" Melman, Tim Allen, Imogene Coca, and Diane Sawyer and her husband, Mike Nichols, who received the Creative Achievement Award.

The Layout: Toward the front of the almost football-field-size room were the celebrity tables. The back had the bookers, agents and junior varsity comics. To walk from one end of the hall to the other was like going from a Beverly Hills schmoozefest to a raucous happy hour in a Midwest comedy club. Tim Allen said in the room's rear he saw "every guy I worked with on the road for the past 15 years."

Dress Mode: Black tie. Many tuxedos had seen hard service in Las Vegas lounges. The room abounded in comedians' girlfriends in tight black dresses and important mascara.

Fashion Statement: A number of women commented on voluptuous comic Rhonda Shear appearing in an apparently shrink-wrap mini-skirt. "Flipper would wear something with more give," noted one woman. "I hope it doesn't explode."

Quoted: "We take the awards very seriously," said producer Schlatter. "The night we have fun with. That's the reason people come--it's about comedy."

Another Sign It's Time to Stop With the Ribbons: Heaping platters of red AIDS ribbons were brought around by staffers during the cocktail hour like waiters serving hors d'oeuvres. "Have you been offered your ribbon?" they asked.

Favors: Each seat had a hard hat, presumably given for earthquake readiness, not for food fights. (Candice Bergen said she already had two in her bedroom; according to Schlatter, Jack Nicholson took four with him.) One guest said the hats were there to see how many creme brulees could be stuffed into one.

Hollywood Moment: Publicists rearranging the place settings so their clients would get better camera time by being seated next to someone more famous.

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