Funny and new jokes at Old World Village

You don't have to keep it clean at Daniel "Rico" Fisher's comedy shows at Old World Village.

You can drop theF-bomb. You can go on a spiel about your misadventures in bed. You can chide occupations, the genders and just about everything else about the people seated in the audience.

There's just one rule, though: Don't get too dark. Or you may get the light flashed at you.

Fisher, who has produced and hosted the Rico's Revival Comedy Show series for a year and a half at the Old World German Restaurant, keeps his iPhone handy in case he needs to send a signal to the comic onstage.

Namely, if they start in on a topic a little too hairy for humor — rape, Penn State, the Holocaust — he'll cue the light on the phone as a signal to lighten up a bit.

If the performers persist, Fisher will physically come onstage and ask them to leave. But he's only had to do that a couple of times.

"You get some comics who want to be real cute and say, 'Hey, I've got a cool Nazi joke,'" said Fisher, whose venue in a shopping center designed like an old German village has inspired that subject matter more than once.

What Fisher — who, for performing purposes, always goes by Rico — seeks at the weekly Wednesday night show is a cozy vibe. Before the show, he'll chat with audience members, both to make them feel at home and also to get improv ideas.

And unlike some comedy clubs, the performance room at Old World German Restaurant doesn't have a blinding light pointing onstage, which means the performer can always see his or her audience.

Given the venue's location in a corner of Old World Village, tucked away from the street without a marquee, Fisher was dubious at first that there would be much of an audience at all.

The veteran stand-up comic, who lives in Lakewood and works as an auctioneer and special-events promoter, visited Old World on a friend's recommendation and struggled to imagine a packed room.

"I thought, 'Wow, a German restaurant on a side street off Bella Terra,'" Fisher said.

He opted to try it as an experiment, though, and word of mouth soon caught on — both among audiences and performers, some of whom came back for repeated gigs despite getting no payment beyond a free drink and hors d'oeuvres. (Fisher is quick to note that he too doesn't make any money off the shows.)

"The comics love coming back," said Pam Alagata, the marketing manager for Old World Village. "They love the way he treats them. Most of the stand-up comics are out there trying to be found, and they're not being paid at all."

Fisher, who has performed at the Brea Improv, the Ha Ha Cafe Comedy Club in North Hollywood and other venues, sometimes scouts the comics who feature at his shows. Other times, they come to him on a referral from peers; Fisher estimates that he hadn't met nearly a third of his headliners before they arrived at Old World.

In addition to the headliner, who has about half an hour onstage, Fisher lines up several openers who each get 10 to 15 minutes. He also opens each show with a set of his own and makes use of props, including a sombrero-shaped yamaka that plays off his Jewish, Mexican and Cherokee heritage.

The show gets a similarly eclectic lineup onstage. English-born comedian Natalie Gray, who lives in Malibu and Marina del Rey, said she has appeared at Old World dozens of times — in part because she likes the host, and in part because the venue, with its disco ball hanging before a mural of the German countryside, struck her as wonderfully daft.

The series is diverse in another way: In between the up-and-comers who often take the stage, Fisher occasionally features a bona fide celebrity. Cindy Burns of the troupe Funniest Housewives of Orange County, who has performed with Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey, often tests new material with the intimate crowd at Old World.

"It's just one of those places that have been there forever," said Burns, a Huntington Beach native. "I grew up hanging out there, so I love supporting it."

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

If You Go

What: Rico's Revival Comedy Show

Where: Old World German Restaurant, Old World Village, 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach

When: 7:30 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday

Cost: Free

Information: (714) 895-8020 or

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