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Comedian Carl LaBove still finding reasons to laugh

The stand-up says humor helps him through the dark times

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Carl LaBove is going through a lot these days, but his comedy is what gets him through it.

Carl LaBove first played Las Vegas in 1983. After struggling day-to-day as a comedian in LA, he recalls seeing his name on the Dunes billboard as “an experience that artistically gave me the confidence to see possibilities I hadn’t yet dreamed possible.”

The Details

Carl LaBove
March 21-27, 9 p.m.
$35.50-$46.50
Riviera Comedy Club, 794-9433

LaBove continues to perform here every two or three months, playing Garage Band with childhood friend Danny McFadden, golfing, dining with Carrot Top and joking with The Amazing Johnathan during his downtime. But he has to bum rides, or take a cab. His license, passport and hundreds of thousands of dollars in income have been taken from him as he’s struggled to pay child support for a daughter recently proven via DNA evidence to be the heir of his best friend, the late Sam Kinison. On February 17 LaBove filed a petition in Los Angeles to nullify a 13-year-old support agreement; a hearing is scheduled for March 29. (Pending the outcome, he’s unable to comment on his legal situation.)

Meanwhile, LaBove has trained his focus on his work. Onstage, LaBove is simultaneously frenetic and introspective; he is renowned in comedic circles for his physicality and character work. “I perform from emotion and express myself fully,” he explains. “I can’t stand behind a mic and talk. It’s just not my style. I want the audience to get a movie experience with my shows. It’s action, baby!”

An Army brat raised around religion and music, LaBove took an opposite approach from most of his peers, acting before attempting stand-up at age 19. “Most other performers in my field start as stand-ups and gravitate toward acting jobs,” he says. “I get to ‘act’ in my stand-up. So consequently I stay sharp should, say, Ron Howard call because Russell Crowe gets sick.” In addition to stand-up specials and multiple Tonight Show spots, he has appeared in the film Jumpin’ Jack Flash and on TV shows Seinfeld and Roseanne.

LaBove also jokingly claims to be planning a one-man show with three people in it, a book about Ginsu knives and injuries, and a documentary on gay cats. And no matter the outcome of his legal struggles, LaBove vows to retain the strength and optimism that have seen him through nearly 20 years of injustice. “I believe in myself and I love what I do!” he enthuses. “When life sucks, which it does from time to time, my refuge is in the work. Stand-up comedy has never stolen my wallet, put eyedrops in my tea or pulled my underwear up and out of the back of my jeans. So I give it my heart and soul.”

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