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On the Scene: Throwing Schticks from a Glass House

August 11, 2005 By:
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This story is being brought to you in Todd-AO widescreen vision.

And why not? It is, after all, Todd Glass’ A-OK farsighted vision that has made the Valley Forge native son the supercomic of the cutting edge.

Last comic schticking?

On the edge of 40, the comic and his offbeat always-on sense of humor have found a home up on stage and in your face. And lately, this finalist of NBC’s “The Last Comic Standing” is causing others to sit up and take notice with his trifecta of triumphs; indeed, his standing in the sitcom world has been upgraded with his own version of TV topicality — a coma-com called “Todd’s Coma” — which he’s sold to the Adam Sandler production company.

Then there’s his appearance in “The Aristocrats,” the onejoke, thousand laughs of a lewd, crude and riotously rude feature opening Friday, Aug. 12; and his three-night gig beginning Thursday, Aug. 11, at the new local Helium Comedy Club.

Glass gloms on to the notion that timing couldn’t be better for a comedy club in Center City — and Helium, he adds, is a breath of fresh air. While acknowledging the existence of other clubs in the area — some of which he’s worked, like the Comedy Cabaret chain — Glass laments that “since the Comedy Works closed [decades ago] in Center City, there’s been no club that regularly brings in headliners on their way to making it big — like a Richard Lewis, Gilbert Gottfried, Seinfeld.”

Nothing funny about that, he says: “Good music venues will be around in 25 years, why shouldn’t good comedy clubs?”

Did ya hear the one about the major city that didn’t support them? “Just in Philadelphia, it seems. There’s a great one in Minneapolis, run by Louis Lee.”

His belief ? If you book them, they will come.

Glass proved himself a comer years ago, but it wasn’t until last year’s “Last Comic Standing” — or LCS, the comedy world’s version of baseball’s playoffs — that he showed why his comedy is so coruscating and corrosive.

“Big impact,” he says of the series’ stunning effect on his life.

“Audiences feel like they know me wherever I go.”

What’s to know? Glass has performed at the Aspen Comedy Festival, on late-night talk shows, MTV, Comedy Central; central to his carrying a big shtick that made him such a good humor man was an early love of such comedic greats as Alan King and Don Rickles.

Humor gives off a holiday feeling. Speaking of which … while Chanukah is months away, Glass anticipates its warm candle glow and the glitter of gifts as he recalls Chanukahs past, which were “great — the first night I’d get a radio; the second night of Chanukah, the battery; the third night, the battery case … ”

Making a case for off-the-wall wizardry is his new project with Sandler: “Todd’s Coma” may be the sleeper hit of the year, set as it is in a hospital room where Todd is in a coma as family and friends — including projected big-name stars — wander in and out, wondering out loud about their interaction with the comedian.

Flashbacks of flashes of humor make up what Glass calls “a sketch show,” as the visitors ponder the question, “How did you know Todd?”

“Turns out on the show I’m a Forrest Gump kind of guy,” says the comedian.

Maybe he should go incognito after taking part in the lowhumored “The Aristocrats.” But that’s the joke: Based on a tasteless albeit hilarious anecdote about a family act with the most sordid of scatological and sexual interactions, “The Aristocrats” is actually the punchline — one so gut-wrenchingly funny, it’s like a comical punch in the stomach.

The dirtier the better, as is evidenced by the more than 100 comedians — including Bob Saget, George Carlin, Jason Alexander, Shelly Berman and Whoopi Goldberg — offering their own special spin on the salacious story.

Indeed, “The Aristocrats” may be the most oxymoronic title in the comic-film fiefdom offered this summer; it is at once low-down and uproarious. “I am honored to take part although I didn’t get it all at first,” says Glass about the concept of offering face time to funny men and women telling their version of the vile story dating back to vaudeville.

“But I put my faith in them,” he says tellingly of Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza, the creative duo who brought the unrated, uninhibited — and undeniably funniest film of the year — to the screen.

Yet not everyone is keeping the faith; the AMC theater chain has pulled the film off its summer schedule, saying its blue humor is too red-hot to handle.

Dirty tricks? For a guy raised in a caring Jewish home that valued freedom of expression, Glass expresses what he considers life’s unkindest cut of all — and it has nothing to do with below- the-Borscht-Belt jokes.

“The only thing [in life] that is dirty,” says Glass, “is hatred.”

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