Comic on ‘Make Me Laugh’
Vic Dunlop, a zany and irreverent standup comic with a natural flair for making people laugh, has died. He was 62.
Dunlop died of complications of diabetes Saturday at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, said his wife, Linda.
After launching his career in Los Angeles in the early 1970s with Natural Gas, a small comedy-improv group that appeared regularly on “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” Dunlop gained national attention on his own later in the decade as one of the comedians on “Make Me Laugh.”
In one attempt to crack up a contestant, Dunlop, then weighing 280 pounds, dressed up like a baked potato: He was covered head-to-toe in tinfoil and topped off with a scoop of sour cream on his head.
Dunlop was said to have set a record for making a contestant laugh the fastest -- two seconds -- by climbing on top of the ledge that separated the contestant from the comedians and acting like a pigeon.
He began his solo standup career as a prop comic. But after his bag of props was stolen backstage one night at a comedy club, he was forced to do his entire act without props.
One visual aid, however, remained a staple in his act: a pair of plastic, bloodshot eyes that he’d insert over his own eyes.
He’d say, for example, “Show up at LensCrafters and say, ' What the hell happened to my eyes?’ ”
At the end of the routine, Dunlop would say, “I know you’re saying, ‘Where can I get these eyeballs?’ You can. I’ll be in the back selling them for $5 a pair.”
He did, packaging them as “Vic Dunlop’s Crazy Comic Eyes,” sales of which sometimes exceeded what he made performing in small clubs.
Summing up his comedy philosophy in a 1991 interview with The Times, Dunlop said: “I like to have a party, and I include my audience.”
Comedian Bill Kirchenbauer said Dunlop was “outrageous, he was loud, he’d scream, he’d make fun of people and make fun of himself. It was a real kind of base humor, basically.
“But the thing is, Vic was really funnier than his material. He got to [audiences] through his charisma and his natural funniness. He could go on stage and do just about anything, and people would laugh.”
Comedian Murray Langston, who appeared on “Make Me Laugh” with Dunlop, said, “The one funny thing about him was everything was funny about him -- the way he delivered lines, the way he looked and the way he gestured.
“He was a little bit over the top but all just funny.”
Dunlop, who was a regular on Richard Pryor’s short-lived 1977 comedy-variety show and a regular on the 1981-82 sitcom “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” had small parts in movies such as “Skatetown U.S.A.,” “The Devil and Max Devlin,” “Meatballs Part II,” “Night Patrol” and “Martians Go Home.”
He also co-wrote and starred in the 1993 comedy “Breakfast of Aliens.”
Dunlop, who lost a leg to diabetes in 2000, continued to headline in clubs across the country and performed at the Riviera in Las Vegas last month.
“Vic never wanted pity,” his wife said. “When people would say, ‘I’m sorry that you lost your leg,’ he’d smile and say, ‘It’s OK; I got 10 minutes of new material from it.’ ”
Dunlop was born Nov. 6, 1948, in New York City and moved to Los Angeles as a child. The son of a character actor, whose stage name was Victor Marko, Dunlop attended Catholic school, which gave rise to an early bit in his act in which he would pull the back of his shirt over his head and become Sister Mary Butch, principal of Our Lady of the Most Vicious Blood High School.
After briefly attending Los Angeles City College, Dunlop was drafted into the Army. He went to Vietnam as an infantryman but wound up with a new assignment after seven months. “The Army decided the best way I could help was to cook,” he told The Times in 1991.
In addition to his wife of 27 years, Dunlop is survived by his son, Matt; his daughter, April Richards; his mother, Aurora; his brothers, Richard, Alan, Walter and John; his sister, Aurora; and four grandchildren.