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A Few Good Laughs, Courtesy of Kevin Pollak
Leonard Hughes, Washington Post

Kevin Pollak's stand-up act is riotously funny, unless you happen to be William Shatner, Jack Nicholson or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Appearing in more than 30 movies in the past decade hasn't made Pollak's name as recognizable as his face, but it's given him plenty of comic material. In fact, his relative anonymity has become a running joke, as in his description of working with Nicholson, Tom Cruise and Demi Moore in "A Few Good Men": "I'm like 'Where's Waldo' in that cast."

His show, which runs through tomorrow at the Improv, includes startlingly realistic impressions of the big-name stars, whom he met while appearing in films such as "The Wedding Planner," "The Usual Suspects," "Casino" and "Avalon."

Among true stories are a trip to a dance club with an apparently un-hip, stiff-dancing Schwarzenegger; a series of crank phone calls Pollak, pretending to be Alan Arkin, placed to other celebrities; and Walter Matthau's sexually explicit greeting to Sophia Lauren on the first day of filming the sequel to "Grumpy Old Men."

Perhaps instinctively realizing that folks are getting sick of hearing jokes and news about Schwarzenegger, Pollak made few allusions to the recall election: "It's great to be back in the nation's capital," he said at the top of the show, adding smugly, "This is how the rest of us speak in California."

Pollak's impression of Shatner, which many in Thursday night's opening crowd had apparently anticipated, drew some of the biggest laughs. He took the audience through a hilarious fantasized account of the actor's audition for the role of Capt. Kirk in "Star Trek," then recounted an actual luncheon that found a nervous Pollak sitting down with Shatner after Pollak had been "making fun of him for 20 years."

Along with impressions, Pollak's sarcastic observations about non-Hollywood life also kept the capacity crowd fired up. "I don't enjoy the flying," he said disgustedly, "It's such an incredible pain in the [expletive] to get on the plane now -- I don't give a [expletive] that my seat floats. . . . What else do they have -- is the drink cart a shark cage?"

Appearing on the bill with Pollak are two clever, seasoned comics, Dak Rakow and John Betz Jr.


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