When Jeff Wayne talks about the downtrodden in today's America, he has a different take on the subject than most people.
The white, tax-paying homeowner says he's the oppressed one. And he's not going to take it any more. Not from minorities. Not from gays. Not from women. Not from nonsmokers.
"The white male has been singled out," said Wayne, who performs his one-man show, "Big Daddy's Barbecue," at the Brea Improv through April 9. "People say the white male hates everyone. My show tries to convey that white males of my generation and the last generation were brought up to believe in live and let live.
"We're not occupying our time trying to figure out how to oppress people. We're pretty oppressed ourselves. We have to work for what we get. Everyone says they're owed. When is the debt finally settled? Who owes me?"
In his act, the married father of three gives his take on affirmative action, gay rights, feminists, vegetarians and anybody else who blames the white male for his or her inability to land a job or the decline of civilization in general.
Surprisingly, Wayne says, he gets very little flak from his targets.
"Women enjoy the show. They buy the CD. They kiss me and tell me I should run for President.
"(Targets) are not afraid of what I say because there is nothing wrong with what I say. I only get (grief) from the politically correct."
Wayne started doing stand-up comedy in the late '70s, when he joined the great migration to Los Angeles and the Comedy Store.
"My act has always contained an undercurrent of counter-counterculture material--for better or worse what people would call a conservative streak."
But it wasn't until 1992, while stranded in Hawaii for four days because of Hurricane Iniki, that he got the push to break from the herd. A fellow comic suggested that Wayne put that right-wing streak to use in a one-man show. Wayne agreed, and to help him shape it, he contacted friend Ted Lange, who played Isaac in the "Love Boat" TV series and was classically trained in theater, Shakespeare to be specific.
"The germination of the stage show was when I realized something," Wayne explained from his Arleta home. "If a minority celebrates their ethnic history, it's ethnic pride. If a white person does it, it's racism. If a woman celebrates her womanhood, it's life-affirming and wonderful. If a man celebrates his, it's sexism. And if a gay person celebrates their sexuality, it's liberating. If a straight person does it, it's homophobic."
So far, reception to the project has been encouraging. He made a pilot for NBC last year, but it wasn't picked up. The comic remains undeterred, however, figuring he'll end up on TV eventually. But until then, he's counting on live performances, a new CD ("It's OK to Be a White Male") and a video that sets parts of his routine to music.
"We're very happy with everything," Wayne said, adding that the video has been sent to Comedy Central, the Nashville Network and other cable outlets. "The audiences have been fantastic, and the CD is starting to sell."
From Orange County, where the CD has been distributed to all Tower Records outlets in its first offering, the show heads to Dallas and then to Washington, D.C., in June, when the CD will break nationally.
Wayne said unveiling the record in Orange County was a no-brainer.
"If you're doing rap, you go to the inner city. We all sat down and figured Orange County was the place to go. You've got (U.S. Rep. Robert K.) Dornan. If they like Dornan, they're gonna like me."
* Who: Jeff Wayne in his one-man show, "Big Daddy's Barbecue."
* When: Wednesdays through Sundays. Ends April 9. At 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
* Where: The Improv, 945 E. Birch St., Brea.
* Whereabouts: Take the Lambert Road exit from the Orange (57) Freeway and go west. Turn left onto State College Boulevard and right onto Birch Street. The Improv is on the right, in the Brea Marketplace, across from the Brea Mall.
* Wherewithal: $8 to $10.
* Where to call: (714) 529-7878.