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OC LIVE! : COMEDY : One-Man Act Gives the Impression of Several

October 19, 1995|GLENN DOGGRELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ooooooo. This is almost too good. The LoveMaster can't get a date. Craig Shoemaker--the 6-foot-2, John Boy Walton look-alike who sends women swooning with his deep-voiced, sexually suggestive comments-- can't get a date.

The comedian-actor is having a career year working on a feature film ("Safe House" with Patrick Stewart) and television pilots, doing stand-up across the country and recording TV voice-overs.

"It's not great for the dating side, believe me, but I'm laying a nice foundation," Shoemaker said from Detroit last week during one leg of a mini-tour. "I hate being away from home. I would like to get married again and have kids. It's tough to meet people on the road. But at least I'm not a monkey-eating eagle. I just read something. There are only 12 of them left. They're going extinct. Now that's a tough dating life."

The comic's recent divorce has caused much of this chagrin, but he manages to put a positive spin on it. "Look at all the new material I'll get."

He also picked up material from the O.J. Simpson trial, which he attended one day, sitting behind the Goldman family.

"I have an O.J. hangover right now," said the West Hollywood condo owner, who performs today through Sunday at the Brea Improv. "How much evidence do we need? Hansel and Gretel left [less] of a trail. Shakespeare couldn't have written this."

The Bard would have had similar trouble scripting Shoemaker's life.

When the popular comic was 3, his father left the family to sell brushes and dabble in shark fishing before settling in the Pocono Mountains to run mule rides and a tepee village.

"It's so true and so crazy. But it's so true I can't talk about it," Shoemaker explained.

And how many teens can say their mother belly-danced at their high school graduation in front of their friends. ("Go, Mrs. Shoe, Go! Woo! Woo! . . . I was hiding in the corner.") Shoemaker also swears he tried to fix his mother up with single men, including comic-actor Paul Lynde (to whom Shoemaker sent his mom's photo) and assorted major league baseball players (he looked on their cards to see who was single).

He grew up in a household of women. ("My first shave was with a Flicker.") Even the pets were female. And money was a problem.

"We moved like a hundred times," the Philadelphia native is fond of saying. "I thought evict meant move. 'Look, here comes the eviction truck.' "

*

From this fertile ground grew a life in show business, but Shoemaker's mother still doesn't take his career seriously, even after 15 years.

"No matter what I do, how successful I am, she thinks it's a phase. I could have the No. 1 show on television, and still no one would pick me up at the airport."

In high school, Shoemaker was about 5 foot 1 and 92 pounds, a "wedgy waiting to happen." He was also the last one to change voices in the neighborhood.

"I think I was 22. That's how the impressions started," he said, adding he started out imitating Lynde and Jimmy Stewart. "I never wanted to be who I was. I never liked my voice, my face. Now, as an adult, I want to be who I am."

In his act, Shoemaker combines impressions (there's a hilarious Barney Fife sendup) and storytelling, with the LoveMaster channeling in and out throughout the evening, in response to women in the crowd.

To offset any damage the jive-talking LoveMaster might do, Shoemaker brings in Mr. Erase, the master apologist.

"It sounds stupid, but [the LoveMaster] literally channels through me," Shoemaker said. "It combats the geek in me. My eyes close and roll up into my head, and this sexual energy comes out. I'm enlightening sexual repression. The LoveMaster allows that in a titillating way, not a rude way.

"It allows people to go down that road. So why not bring it out and have fun with it? It's not hurting anyone. I think laughter and sex go hand in hand."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

* Who: Craig Shoemaker.

* When: Tonight and Sunday at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., Saturday at 8 and 10:30 p.m. No passes Friday or Saturday.

* Where: The Improv, 945 E. Birch St., Brea.

* Whereabouts: Orange (57) Freeway to the Lambert Road exit; go west. Turn left onto State College Boulevard and right onto Birch Street. The Improv is in the Brea Marketplace, across from the Brea Mall.

* Wherewithal: $10 to $15.

* Where to call: (714) 529-7878.

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