Two funny females to premiere on HBO, Showtime this weekend

Media Monitor

December 01, 1990|By STEVE MCKERROW

Rita Rudner is relatively recently married -- two years -- and says she and her husband are debating whether to get a dog or have a baby. "We haven't decided whether we want to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives," she deadpans.

Carol Leifer used to be in a mixed marriage -- "I'm human and he was a Klingon" -- but now says, "I'm single and looking." But she's not seeking every girl's ideal, the strong silent guy. "I like 'em weak and chatty."

Rim shot, cymbal crash!

Those are just a couple examples of why Rudner and Leifer are among the funniest stand up comics of the female form. The lines have been lifted from their premium cable specials making their debuts this weekend.

"HBO Comedy Hour: Rita Rudner, Born To Be Mild" can be seen at 10 tonight on HBO (with repeats Tuesday, Thursday and Dec. 10 and 13), and "Carol Leifer: Really Big Shoo!" premieres on Showtime at 9:35 p.m. tomorrow.

Rudner, for example, has established a polished persona as a wispy-voiced, sarcastic observer of life, and often makes herself the butt of her best jokes. For instance, she says she was so boring as a child that, "had two imaginary friends -- they would only play with each other."

A taped opening to her one-hour show (whose stand-up portion was taped live at Cleveland's Ohio Theater) includes some interesting scrapbook material, from childhood through her days a stage dancer and actress. She got into comedy, she says, because "you could still do it when you're old and it didn't hurt -- at least physically."

Rudner's TV exposure has been so broad in recent years, including appearances with David Letterman and "The Tonight Show," as well as previous HBO comedy outings, that some of this material is pretty familiar. For instance, she talks about how men "live like bears with furniture" and complains that some old boyfriends left her so fast "they left skid marks."

But other bits stem from her marriage to an Englishman, and project toward their contemplation of parenthood. Natural childbirth seems backward, she says, because "today everybody is taking drugs except those who need them."

And when a blessed event does occur, she's already decided she will not nurse her baby. "I'm sure my milk has expired."

Leifer's half-hour special shows off some abilities beyond the stand-up stage. In a taped segment at the beginning of the show, she reminisces about the old "Ed Sullivan Show," as a succession of her good impersonations re-enact some of the standard fare, including a cigar-wielding male comedian.

She also does a mock audition of one of the mice who did not win Topo Gigio's mawkish puppet performances with Sullivan. And to introduce Leifer herself the show gives us venerable Sullivan impersonator Will Jordan, who once actually did the Sullivan show with the emcee standing alongside.

Leifer's stage comedy, like most successful stand-ups, is rooted in acute observations of everyday things and a common pop cultural background heavy with TV allusions.

For instance, she notes, women will rarely eat much food in a restaurant on a first date because, "you're not gonna sit there and look like Arnold Ziffel in front of the guy."

She also notes her goal in life is, "I want to be called Mommy by somebody other than Spanish guys in the street."

Steve Mckerrow's Media Monitor column appears Monday through Friday in the Accent section of The Evening Sun.

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