‘Deb and Dan’: A Team Onstage and Off : Comedy: Husband and wife use their own experiences to portray six offbeat couples at Santa Monica’s Club Lux.


A Simpsons pinball machine is prominently displayed in their Santa Monica Mountains hillside home. Deb rolls her eyes as she explains, “Dan loves to play this. It’s one of his favorite things.”

Dan protests: “Hey, it relaxes me.”

“But we have so much to do,” Deb says.

“Yardwork, that kind of thing,” Dan says.

“And working together, and um, um, um,” Deb says, stumbling for words.

“What are you, a Tibetan monk?” Dan asks teasingly.

“That line made it in our show,” Deb says with a smirk.

Dan Castellaneta is the voice of Homer Simpson, the buffoonish father on “The Simpsons.” He’s also the neurotic accountant on the ABC comedy “Sibs,” with Marsha Mason, and was a regular on “The Tracey Ullman Show.”

Deb Lacusta is a playwright. She’s been an actor and writer for plays in Chicago, has published short fiction and does voice-overs in commercials.

“Deb and Dan’s Show” isn’t just what they call their banter-filled marriage, it’s the name of the piece they perform at Club Lux in Santa Monica. The show, which chronicles six very diverse and offbeat couples, is more based in reality than either of them care to admit. It also reflects their lives at home, and gives the public a peek at the man behind Homer Simpson.


Castellaneta, 34, has dark thinning hair, but his hair isn’t as scarce as his cartoon counterpart. He doesn’t have a pot belly. Lacusta, also 34, has hazel eyes, brown hair and an exaggeratedly large smile. She is as far from Marge Simpson as a woman can get, except for her creativity and independence. They moved to L.A. in 1987 when Castellaneta was hired for the Ullman show.

“We used to invite friends to shows that we wrote or directed, and they’d tell us to call them when we’re actually on stage together,” Lacusta says. “So we put together an act, and our own lives spilled over into it.”

Their act is modeled after great husband-wife teams--Elaine May and Mike Nichols, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Gracie Allen and George Burns. Offstage, they find themselves finishing each other’s sentences, teasing and bickering, and coming up with new routines along the way.

“That line where she throws up her hands and says, ‘I just don’t know what to say anymore,’ well, Deb’s used that line a lot before,” Dan admits.

“It’s ‘cause he keeps babbling and won’t let me get a word in,” Deb says.

They met in an acting improv class as part of Second City in Chicago. Detroit-born Lacusta had just lost her advertising job, Castellaneta was living at home, working part time as a delivery man for sprockets, pulleys and other machine parts. She saw him at an improv class and had to meet him.

“He was wearing blue polyester bell-bottom pants and a plaid flannel shirt, but I knew I could work with that,” Deb says.

Dan says: “I did a double take and I said to her, ‘Do I know you?’ ”

Dan sat next to Deb and they exchanged phone numbers. After two months Deb finally called to ask him on a date.

“I got tired of waiting,” Deb says, rolling her eyes again. “Then, he took me out to see ‘Sweeney Todd’ (a musical about cannibalism)--what a charming date.”

“I like the music,” Dan says.

“So, we dated for awhile and I forced him to move out of his parents’ home and changed his wardrobe,” Deb says.

In Chicago, the couple had their own Sunday morning radio show, so their favorite characters in their stage act are Al and Arlene, an elderly couple with a radio show who tell bad jokes and argue on the air. They recite a rap song and read information cards about what’s happening around town, such as “The Peachtree Puppeteers doing a version of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ ”

In another part of the act, Deb and Dan become Lynn and Earl, an Elvis-worshiping couple in Las Vegas. He is dressed in a blue jacket with white tassels and sunglasses. She wears a tall wig, pink hoop earrings and a tight lacy outfit. They claim Elvis saved their marriage.

“That skit came out of a trip we took to Vegas,” Dan says. “We met three women dressed just like Deb in the act, they must’ve had 10 marriages between them, and one had a husband named Bubba.”

“It’s true, sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up,” Deb says.

They also portray a pair of dueling radio pop psychiatrists, and in another skit about a pushy salesman, Castellaneta is dressed in a hair piece and a blue plaid suit, looking much like when Lacusta first met him. “He was just as shy then,” she says.

Some celebrity friends have come to see the show. At their first show, the voice of Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright, came to watch.

“This really is just like the two of them, it’s very funny,” Cartwright says. “But Bart probably would have tried to sneak out during the show.”

Speaking of offspring, animated or otherwise, Castellaneta and Lacusta have had little time to think about a family.

“We look for excuses not to have kids,” Dan says.

“We’re both two big kids now, I don’t know, maybe we’d make good parents,” Deb says.

“Ohhhhhh, little Barts of our own,” Dan groans, not unlike Homer Simpson.

“Deb and Dan’s Show,” tonight and June 20 at 8 p.m. Club Lux, 2800 Donald Douglas Loop North, Santa Monica. (310) 288-7882. $12.50