Robert Dubac always knew he had a good thing going with "The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron," his one-man show that looks at the differences between the sexes.
But he didn't figure it would so quickly land him a leading role in a feature movie.
"It's semi film noir . . . bad guys, greed, gambling, the sleazy underbelly of life," he said by phone earlier this week, taking a break from doing plumbing repairs at his Santa Monica loft. "I'm an outsider sucked into it. And there's a spiritual twist that makes it interesting."
The focus of the movie, which had a screening at the recent Cannes Film Festival, is that of a rinky-dink gambling town and its denizens, including Dubac's film father, who wins big one night and gets killed on his way home.
"I come in from out of town to wrap up the body and take it home but realize there's more to it."
The project, filmed in four weeks last fall in Elko, Nev., took shape after producer Bob Peters caught Dubac's one-man show a couple years ago and the two men began hunting a vehicle for Dubac outside "The Male Intellect."
"After the Game," which also includes Stanley De Santis and Lou Rawls, was the answer.
"I've been heading to films more than TV because you can be a little more raw," said Dubac, who is also preparing a sitcom with Warner Bros. and has appeared on several other network series. "With TV, you have to be completely non-threatening."
Dubac said the movie was fairly well received in Cannes, where it was shopped around for foreign distribution. Dubac said he's hoping it will be released domestically by autumn.
In the meantime, he's touring with "The Male Intellect," including a run at the Brea Improv through June 18. After that, it's off to Denver for at least six weeks. He's also got a line on an off-Broadway run later this year.
"The show is about a man trying to figure out what women want in this day and age," Dubac explained. "It's not from a point of view to please women--it's to please him, to grow out of the Neanderthal stage. It's been a man's world for a millennium, but that doesn't mean we can't improve with other thoughts and ideas. Chauvinism isn't the way any more. Women are saying that doesn't hold water. We need to work together."
The piece finds Dubac waiting for a call from his fiancee after she dumped him, telling him to get a clue. She said she'd call within a fortnight to talk. We catch Dubac in the last 90 minutes before the deadline is up. He uses that time to wrestle with merging his masculine and sensitive sides (five chauvinist alter-egos and a taped female voice) into a relationship-ready whole.
"I originally thought it was just a nice show, something you could feel good about," said Dubac, 40, who holds a degree in psychology and journalism from the University of Georgia. "But it has taken on a life of its own. It's therapeutic without the psychobabble."
He has found the work appeals to both sexes, who spread the word.
"People start coming back to the show, bringing friends. There is a good feeling, something to latch on to and identify with."
But Dubac knows he must offer more than warm fuzzies.
"It's always nice to sneak a message in," he said. "That's the difficult thing."
* Who: Robert Dubac in "The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron."
* When: Tonight through Sunday and June 14 through June 18. At 8:30 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturdays.
* 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 in the Brea Marketplace, across from the Brea Mall.
* Wherewithal: $8 to $10.
* Where to call: (714) 529-7878.