The historic Lobero Theatre hosted a rare night of classic stand-up comedy in Santa Barbara on Jan. 27. With the closest full-time live comedy venue, the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club, down in Ventura, Santa Barbara doesn’t get to see many top comedians perform live locally. That’s one reason local comedy fans welcomed the unusual show at the Lobero and packed the house to see two veteran stand-up comedy geniuses at work.
Opening the show was Wayne Federman, a veteran comedian, actor and writer. While he has an impressive resume of film appearances and writing credits under his belt, he is probably best known for his relentless touring as a classic stand-up comedian.
Fedreman hit the stage at the Lobero like a hand grenade, endearing himself to the crowd almost instantly with over-the-top physical antics as well as a series of sarcasm-drenched one-liners. As he settled into his routine with longer and more sophisticated storytelling, he pranced about the stage and would occasionally play the piano. At one point he even offered his own hilarious version of Radiohead’s classic song “Creep.” By the end of his set, he had the crowd smiling and on their feet for a standing ovation.
Headliner Kevin Nealon hit the stage next, with a much more demure and subtle comedy style. The veteran comedian experimented with new material that he is trying to perfect for his upcoming second comedy special on Showtime.
With a wealth of comedy references to draw from, including nearly a decade of characters on Saturday Night Live and decades of movie- and television-making as well, he told intellectual antidotes drawn from his life’s work. But no matter how serious the subject matter, including material from his autobiographical book, Yes, You’re Pregnant, But What About Me?, his stories would always evolve into sidesplitting humor, with campy references to bodily functions or some other humorous dichotomy to his real-life stories.
It was a great night of laughter at the Lobero, and although comedy shows are rare, the theater has seen its share of classic comedians dating back almost 70 years.
In my interview last month with Nealon, he had asked me if I might know who was the first comedian to play at the Lobero. According to staff from the Lobero Foundation, who did some homework, they think the first comedy show at the theater was a Christmas show by Lucille Ball in 1947.
The Lobero may not get comedy shows often, but when it does, it is a rare opportunity for Santa Barbarans to gather for a belly laugh with some of the world’s most famous comedians.