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April 22, 1989 | DUNCAN STRAUSS
Bruce Baum's appearance this week at the Irvine Improvisation calls local attention to the Great Prop Debate that rages in stand-up comedy. (OK, maybe it doesn't exactly rage , but it does exist.) One side, certainly the majority, looks down its collective nose at prop comedy, dismissing it as an easy, bastardized form of stand-up. The attitude is that performing with props is akin to the way Rosie Ruiz runs marathons: You arrive at the punch/finish line, but it's kind of like taking a bus to get there.
June 11, 1989 | DUNCAN STRAUSS
At a time when many comedians are little more than interchangeable parts--the same look, the same pedestrian language, the same toothless set of premises, sometimes even the same toothless jokes, like the gags about Barbara Bush's appearance that pass for political commentary--Dennis Miller can be a blast of fresh air. His stand-up act offers bright, substantive observations to chew on, often involving truly topical matters and newsmakers, put...
August 23, 2007 | Mike Flaherty
The 51-year-old's journey from beloved sitcom dad of "Full House" and ?ber-genial host of "America's Funniest Home Videos" to gutter-mouthed stand-up comedian has been one of Hollywood's longest, strangest trips. But, as Saget talked to us about his upcoming HBO comedy special, "That Ain't Right," premiering this Saturday night (the DVD will be released Tuesday), it became clear that he was always a pretty sick puppy. The second part of your career has been spent largely upending the first part.
April 29, 1989 | DUNCAN STRAUSS
Through a surge of serendipity, the local comedy scene will be jammed with jokes next week--or at least bustling with activity that will include the return of some top-notch veteran comedians, a combination benefit show and comedy competition and two grand openings. The weeklong boom begins Sunday, when Fractured Mirror, an enormously gifted local comedy troupe, has its grand opening at the L.P.R. Dinner Theatre (also known as the Brobdingnag Theatre) in Tustin. Although it draws reviews wherever it performs, Fractured Mirror has long been under-appreciated in its own back yard.
July 3, 2010 | By Gina Piccalo, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Comedian Mike Birbiglia's career was, as he put it, "aggressively nowhere," when the talent executives at Comedy Central first fell for his wry, self-deprecating act. He was living with his parents, working as a temp, earning $5 to $10 a week doing stand-up at New York's Comic Strip. Then he lost a Comedy Central standup contest in Boston, or as he told friends, "made it to the semifinals," and, strangely, his star began to rise. Though he didn't realize it at the time, Birbiglia's career was being lassoed into Comedy Central's so-called 360-deal, a kind of dream machine that plucks young talent from obscurity and grooms them for a mass audience by booking tours, recording and distributing comedy albums and granting coveted TV spots on the network.
Ten years ago, a spunky sprite with a 1,000-watt smile and a girl-next-door name, Mary Lou Retton, vaulted from the Los Angeles Olympics across television screens into the homes of millions of Americans who fell in love with her. Sweet 16, 4-feet-9, a red-white-and-blue, stars-and-stripes ball spinning through the air, she made an entire country cheer on Aug. 3, 1984, when she landed firmly on her feet and flung up her arms, absolutely sure of a perfect 10 that gave her the first U.S.
May 1, 1988 | JOHN JOHNSON, Times Staff Writer
It's Friday night at the drive-in. As the pale-skinned hero of the season's hot new martial-arts flick snaps the bones of the Asian archvillain, the Winnetka 6 erupts in honking horns and flashing headlights. The movie that has the big-wheeled pickups beeping is "Bloodsport." Advertised as the true story of an American who defeated all comers 13 years ago in a no-holds-barred international tournament of warriors, the movie opened last month at 800 U.S.
It was just another tragedy in family court. A young crack mother, desperate to conceal her pregnancy, had locked herself in a tenement bathroom and given birth to a three-pound boy. As she pushed, he fell to the floor and broke his skull. The mother abandoned him, like she had two previous babies. All were born addicted to crack. "Can we do anything about this woman?" asks Judge Judith Sheindlin, her voice taut with anger.
In a year that has seen would-be action heroes Jeff Speakman and Brian Bosworth make well-orchestrated attempts to muscle their way into the action-adventure movie arena, Columbia Pictures is clearly betting that Jean-Claude Van Damme could be the next Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal--or even Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Double Impact," the $15-million action film in which Van Damme plays dual roles, opened well Aug. 9 and has grossed $15.
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