Dump a comedian and you become the joke
BEN KARLIN admits he’s not saving any lives. “Any actual help is a byproduct,” he says. “Like when you get really sick and lose weight. That wasn’t the goal, but you lost the weight.” Of course, Karlin has some experience with unintended byproducts. As editor of the Onion and executive producer of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” he helped popularize satire to the point that we’re now accustomed to live coverage of a Republican National Convention on Comedy Central.
This Saturday and Monday, you can investigate the byproduct of Karlin’s new endeavor, contributing to and editing “Things I’ve Learned From Women Who’ve Dumped Me” -- a collection of essays on the subject of romantic rejection from funnymen such as Andy Richter, David Wain and Dan Savage. Some of the book’s contributors will be performing as part of a two-night variety show at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Feliz.
Bob Odenkirk (the “Bob” of the late ‘90s sketch comedy program “Mr. Show With Bob and David,” frequent performer at “Comedy Death Ray” at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood and Monday night performer) contributed “Nine Years Is the Exact Right Amount of Time to Be in a Bad Relationship” -- a “transcript taken from a recent Bob Odenkirk Rocky RelationShip Seminar.”
“I naturally write in a performance style,” says Odenkirk. “What’s easy to do, and therefore the most fun, is characters talking and getting on a rant.” One of Odenkirk’s creations, motivational speaker Matt Foley (made famous by Chris Farley), nicely illustrates the comedic power of a tirade. (“I live in a van down by the river!”) “When you hit on a funny voice, the attitude of the voice, the point of view, it’s great,” says Odenkirk. “You can just run with it.”
Largo regular Paul F. Tompkins will emcee Saturday night’s festivities, and although he didn’t contribute to the book, he’s going to make up for it: “I plan on telling a story about one of my personal dumpings, which I imagine will be greatly cathartic for the entire audience,” Tompkins says wryly. “It’s clearly something everyone can relate to. Unless you’re some kind of psychopathic monster.”
And while “Things I’ve Learned” may not be intended to help anyone, when it comes to matters of the heart, help isn’t necessarily that hard to find. “You’re seeing someone who can laugh at themselves, at a horrible thing that they went through,” Tompkins says of the variety show. “And it does make your load a little lighter: ‘I’m not the only idiot. At least one other person was as dumb as I was.’ ”
THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM WOMEN WHO’VE DUMPED ME
WHERE: Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sat. and Mon.
PRICE: $10 (sold out, standing room tickets released night of show)
INFO: (800) 595-4TIX; www.steveallentheater.com