1988 ORANGE COUNTY ARTS PREVIEW : COMEDY : Trend Toward Big Names Mining Laughs in County Will Continue

In 1988, there may not be a development on the local comedy scene as momentous as the opening of another full-time comedy club, but last year's trend toward big-name comedians appearing in Orange County appears also to be this year's.

In the first three months of '88 alone, there will be shows by noted performers representing both ends of the stand-up spectrum, from the hottest monologuist (Jay Leno) to the best-known prop comic (Gallagher).

Leno plays the UC Irvine Bren Events Center on Feb. 2, while Gallagher wields his trademark Sledge-O-Matic March 26 and 27 at the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim. Much sooner, the Celebrity stage will play host to yet another veteran comedian when George Carlin headlines there Friday.

On the club level, most shows are still in the negotiation stage and yet to be confirmed. But at this point, probably the most notable booking is Jerry Seinfeld's return engagement at the Irvine Improvisation March 1-6.

Perhaps you're starting to think: "Hey, can't we see some good comediennes locally?" You sure can--soon and in consecutive weeks. Ellen Degeneres (who has been on "The Tonight Show" and co-starred in HBO's recent special "Ladies of the Evening") headlines the Improv Jan. 26-31; topping the bill there Feb. 2-7 is Rita Rudner, who has made several appearances on "Late Night With David Letterman."

For more information about these and other comedy shows, call the Bren Events Center at (714) 856-5000, the Celebrity Theatre at 999-9536, the Improv at 854-5455, and the Laff Stop at 852-8762.

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