Carl Rimi, a frisky young comic, is on stage pretending -- or so it seems -- to flub his routine. Turning his back to the audience, he pulls a piece of paper from his pocket, scans his notes, then spins around. He's back on track.
Rimi's knack for toying with the audience has earned him the emcee post with the standup troupe Comedians R' Us. Standups don't usually travel in troupes, and they perform in smoky nightclubs. But Rimi is on stage at the Hollywood Boulevard Theatre, and Comedians R' Us promotes itself as a package deal. The concept is the brainchild of Harrison Klein, a former psychology professor and aspiring comedian who was seeking additional stage-time between the limited slots available at local comedy clubs. With Comedians R' Us, he's creating a niche by booking the group not only at theaters but at restaurants, sports bars, bookstores, even libraries.
Seven comics offer a range of styles and ethnic perspectives. But diversity wasn't the goal; it was simply a bonus, Klein says. When he gathered everybody together, he ended up with a Jewish guy from Brooklyn; a singing, guitar-playing Hispanic guy; a gay guy; a black guy; a married guy; a single guy; and a gal -- who's a mom.
Jeff Laub of Coral Springs, a former TV producer and game-show writer whose credits include The $25,000 Pyramid, is the Brooklyn Jew. He opens with a bit about the tennis balls and other knickknacks folks in South Florida stick on their car antennae. And in a routine about the toll-free phone number on Snickers candy-bar wrappers, he wonders out loud what kinds of questions consumers could possibly have for the candy company, which he, in his New York accent, pronounces as "Snick-a."
Laub says he loves doing comedy at theaters and other offbeat venues. Even without a two-drink minimum and a crowd of hundreds, it's a great place to hone his craft. "You can come up with one ad-lib," he says. "If it gets a laugh, it's worth performing in front of anybody."
For Carl Rimi the audience becomes part of the show -- especially when it's a bunch of his friends. "I know all of you," he says cheerfully from the stage. After the show he confesses that wasn't true. "Some of my friends brought people I didn't know."
-- Patti Roth
Comedians R' Us will perform at Hollywood Boulevard Theatre, 1938 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, at 9 p.m. October 11, 11 p.m. October 17, and 9 p.m. October 18. Call 954-929-5400. For more information on the troupe and other upcoming performance dates, call 305-949-5983.