CLICKING WITH CARL : And Now for the News

<i> Dennis McLellan is a staff writer for The Times Orange County Edition. </i>

In the last 10 minutes of his act, Carl Wolfson stands next to a screen, holding a cordless slide changer.

“In responding to Saddam Hussein’s latest demands,” he says, “President Bush sent this photo of himself and his Cabinet to Iraq.”

Click: A slide shows a dozen middle-age men mooning the camera.

Wolfson moves on: “The U.S. has obtained Iraqi war plans after Saddam Hussein’s secret vault was blasted open by little 8-year-old Geraldo Rivera.”


Click: We see a kid with a thick, bushy mustache that has been drawn on his upper lip, along with a tape over his “broken” nose.

And so it goes. Wolfson has been doing his “News Updates” since he started in stand-up 10 years ago, and they’ve become his signature. (Among other places, he did them on TV’s “Thicke of the Night” where the bit was called “The Wolfson Report,” and on Fox’s “The Late Show,” where they called it “Carl’s Camera.”) Through Sunday, he’s conducting his current-events classes at the Laff Stop in Newport Beach.

On the phone last week, the Laff Stop regular said he looks forward to returning to the club. He said he often uses his slide changer to “open garage doors all up and down Bristol.”

Wolfson, who has a master’s degree in political science, said his own main interest is current events, especially sports and politics (“They asked George Bush if the war on poverty was over. He said, ‘Yes. The poor lost.’ ”). He gets most of his material from the news: He reads one major daily newspaper every day, three national news magazines a week and has “CNN on constantly.”

He’s not a big fan of USA Today. “It’s like, ‘George Bush went to Europe. He flew on a big plane. He is our president.’ And then they have a big pie chart. It’s like being back in elementary school.”

Wolfson’s slides said the difference between what he does and what “Saturday Night Live” does with its “Weekend Update” is that he manipulates the elements in his slides, and his timing is different: Instead of having the picture on the screen while he says his lines, he says his lines, then uses the slides as a visual punch line. The former University of Tennessee communications major first became interested in the humorous possibilities of slide shows when he was working for a public relations firm in Nashville in the late ‘70s and found them to be a good way to break up employee meetings.

When he moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to break into comedy, he showed up at an open-mike night at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, where his slides “got everyone’s attention.” Club owner Mitzi Shore was so impressed that she made him a regular.

Wolfson said he adds one or two new slides a week to stay current, but some favorites stick around. He has even turned a few of them into postcards, which he sells at the end of his shows. Here’s one of his favorites:


“At Three Mile Island, Vice President Dan Quayle says he can find no evidence that nuclear energy is harmful to the public.”

Click: A slide shows the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the background; in the foreground is Quayle--with a third eye in the middle of his forehead.


Carl Wolfson.



Thursday, Dec. 27, and Sunday, Dec. 30, at 8:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 28, at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 29, at 8, 10 and 11:45 p.m.


The Laff Stop, 2122 S.E. Bristol St., Newport Beach, on a bill with Van Gunter.



From the Corona del Mar Freeway, take the Irvine Boulevard/Campus Drive exit and go south one block to Bristol.


$7 to $10.


Where to call

(714) 852-8762.