Flip Schultz is on stage at Uncle Funny's Comedy Club in Davie, asking if there's a cop in the audience. Somewhere out in the dark, silhouetted crowd, a guy -- brave, naive, or both -- raises his hand. Taking his cue, Schultz says hello, then delivers an array of exaggerated middle-finger gestures. The crowd cheers.
Schultz finishes the bit with a respectful salute -- using his whole hand, not just one digit -- then slides into a routine inspired by a cop he saw ticket a guy in a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot. The policeman, he says, sees the speeder and signals him to pull over. But then, spotting a Dunkin' Donuts, he motions for him to keep going... keep going... until they reach the donut shop.
The up-and-coming comedian from Plantation is wearing his "comedy shirt," a shiny, metallic-blue job that looks like something you'd wear while bowling with the Jetsons. He's done headline slots in smaller venues, but for this show he's opening for John Pinette, the guy who got carjacked on the final episode of Seinfeld.
In fact, the 23-year-old Schultz, who resembles Jim Carrey, won a local Seinfeld Comedy Challenge contest a few years ago. As young as he is, he's been at the comedy game for a while. At the age of eight, he won a summer-camp talent show with a comedy routine.
"Laughter is such an incredible thing, and to have the ability to make people laugh is just the ultimate reward," he says. "It's an incredible job."
Schultz began performing at open-mic nights at the age of 18 and landed his first paying gig three years later. Of course, raw talent isn't enough to get yourself noticed. You also have to be annoying. Anne Kiel, a former owner of Uncle Funny's, remembers Schultz as a sweet, polite teen -- one who was always pestering her to let him on stage. "I finally had gotten beyond the fact he was annoying me, and could watch him objectively and see that he was funny," she recalls.
Fresh out of college, Schultz is a little less annoying -- and still funny. He studied theater at Florida Atlantic University and pokes fun at the school's wimpy mascot, a burrowing owl, in his routine.
Schultz's trademarks are his "rubber-face impressions," which he's performed at many club and college gigs throughout the Southeast. Stretching his facial muscles, he's able to look something like Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, Richard Nixon, and Jay Leno, among others.
Schultz says that, in addition to performing standup, he's appeared in plays, movies, and TV commercials. He plans to head to Los Angeles to see if he can cut it in the big league. Having established himself regionally, he realizes he'll be a small fish in the big pond of L.A.
He's prepared for the worst, though. Years ago a show for retired teachers had him in the accordion-door section of a restaurant. "I was literally playing the salad bar," he recalls.
In order to sidestep such bookings, he says he'll pull some strings out west, networking with some of the famous comedians he's worked with over the years. But he won't be annoying this time around.
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"There's a fine line between being persistent and annoying," he says. "I'll be very persistent."
"Or maybe persistence is just a mature way of being annoying."
-- Patti Roth
Flip Schultz will perform July 8 to 11, July 15 to 18, and July 29 to August 1 at the Comedy Corner, 2000 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-1812 for showtimes.