White Mountain Cooler Comedy Tour, with Jack Coen, headliner, and Henry Cho, at Studebaker's, 175 E. Fourth South, tonight at 7, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Salt Lakers starved for laughs will be happy to know that the White Mountain Cooler Comedy Tour is back in town. The show - at Studebakers through Saturday night - isn't a feast, but it's not just empty calories either.With Cartoons closed and no first-string comedians scheduled to appear in town any time soon, the Comedy Tour at least provides a little comic sustenance.
Headlining is Jack Coen, a better-than-most but not-as-good-as-the-best comedian. Not quite generic but not truly distinctive either. That doesn't mean you won't find a lot to laugh at, though.
Poking fun of George Bush's proposal to take away parole as an option for convicts sentenced to life in prison, Coen ponders how prisoners will respond to wardens who threaten them with more time: "Yeah, what are you going to bump it up to: Never ever?"
Taking a look at a new mint-flavored dog biscuit recently brought out by Milk Bone, Coen can't quite see a market there: "I just don't see dogs getting bummed out about bad breath."
Looking back at the United States' brief involvement in Grenada, Coen figures at least his generation now has a war it can be proud of: "My father had World War II, my brother had 'Nam, now I have Grenada. Five, six years from now I can go up to a couple of young punks on the corner and say, `Yeah, you kids don't remember the war, do you? It was a hairy weekend. . . . I didn't think I'd get to work on Monday. I hate to use those sick days."
Coen's best material, though, was his recollections of Little League, where the kids in the outfield stand around with their gloves on their heads, and the kid in the infield threatens to throw to second ("I've never done it yet, but this could be the day").
Coen is a wiry man with lots of energy. He says Robin Williams was a big influence on his style: "I thought you should really sweat when you did comedy." In the early days of his career, Coen, 30, was nicknamed Hyperman for his frenetic style. But these days he appears to have calmed down.
You can hear him on the radio in "comedy breaks" for White Mountain Cooler. He does two jokes on this radio spot - and he repeated the two, in the same order, last night. Hearing jokes the fifth time around isn't the same as hearing a favorite song. Comedy has the illusion, at least, of being spontaneous. When you can predict not only the punch line but what joke will come next, a lot of the fun is lost.
Opening for the show is Henry Cho, a comedian who makes much - a little too much - of the fact that he is a Korean with a southern drawl. It's true that the juxtaposition throws you off a little at first, but Cho is a little too heavy handed with his y'alls and his reckons. And a little too free with his put-downs of Orientals.
He is obviously a funny guy, but at this point he seems to be trying too hard. He'd probably do better by adding to his repertoire more jokes like his new version of the Iron Man Triathalon: "Swim two miles, run 50 miles, walk through the mall for a half hour with a girl with a credit card."
The White Mountain folks had originally planned to bring their roving comedy tour to Cartoons. When the club folded, they brought in their first wave of stand-up comics to Night Moves in June. When that folded, too, they worked out a deal with Studebaker's.
Studebaker's is a dance club. With a dance floor in the middle and many tables out of sight of the comedian, it's not really ideal for comedy. And the clientele is expecting to dance and hear lines, not one-liners. But the club's management has done a good job to make the best of an odd situation - including encouraging patrons not to talk during the show.
Coen and Cho will also be appearing Saturday at ParkWest, before the REO Speedwagon concert at 4 p.m. On Saturday night, for the last show at Studebaker's, White Mountain Cooler will present a check for $1,000 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Studebaker's will also be donating 97 cents for every admission through Saturday.