Comics Take a G-Rated Stand for a Good Cause

Comedy is not pretty, or so the saying goes. In many cases, it's not very clean either: Attend even one or two shows on the comedy club circuit and it becomes apparent that X-rated jokes, like the ability to exploit an amusing set of neuroses, are practically required equipment.

But Monday night at the L.A. Cabaret in Encino, a comedy club that has seen its share of bleepable humor, most of the jokes will be rated PG. There will still be plenty of jokes about love, jokes about dates, jokes about parents, coming of age and the general stupid behavior of inept politicians and salesclerks-- all the turf that comics love to grouse about.

But Monday night's show is for charity: Proceeds will benefit the programs and services provided by the Los Angeles and Ventura County office of United Cerebral Palsy in Van Nuys. "It gets weird if you let comics do their real funky material during a charity event," said R. J. Johnson, the show's co-producer. "I don't want anyone who's come to support a family cause feeling uncomfortable."

The show is also a comedy contest. Now in its third year, Stand-Up Comics Take a Stand! is limited to 80 working professional comics who reach the semifinal round (to be held at the California Mart in downtown Los Angeles on June 16) by winning a runoff competition at area clubs. Ten comics will compete in Monday's L.A. Cabaret show, which is the sixth of nine runoff rounds. The Icehouse in Pasadena will be the host for the seventh runoff May 22.

According to Johnson, the concept for Stand-Up Comics Take a Stand! came from comedian Gene Mitchener, who, because of a sensory nerve disorder, does his stand-up comedy in a wheelchair. "There are a lot of comedy contests, but most aren't charity events," said Johnson, who also co-produced the half-hour TV documentary for KTLA called "Breaking Ground," which featured success stories of disabled entertainers.

The finals, which take place June 22 at the Wilshire Ebell Theater, will be televised in October on cable's CBN Family Channel, owned by the Christian Broadcasting Network. CBN also broadcast last year's show and caused a minor stir when it edited out some of the finalists' material, including that of Kathy Buckley, who happens to be hearing-impaired.

But Johnson sees no harm in pure G-rated humor. "It's good for the audience, and it's good for the comics, too," he said. "I mean, if they ever get booked on 'The Tonight Show,' they'll need at least six or seven good clean minutes."

A runoff round of the comedy competition Stand-Up Comics Take a Stand! takes place Monday at L.A. Cabaret, 17271 Ventura Blvd., Encino. Show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5. Call (818) 782-2211 for information.

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