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BRIAN MCKIM has performed standup comedy in all 50 states. He earned a B.A. in Magazine Journalism from Temple University. Any resemblance to a living person is purely coincidental.


Brian McKim
Editor In Chief

"L.A. Stories"

PASADENA--I am in the City of Roses. It is a pleasant burg; civilized and verdant and quiet and much farther away from Hollywood than any map indicates. Last night, there was a skunk rooting around in the garden, just outside the window. Beautiful animal, the skunk.

This is our third or fourth visit to SoCal since we reluctantly fled in 1993. I feel at home here. Within hours of arriving, I feel as though I never left. I find it hard to remember my life before it was changed by Southern California.

Two stories serve as neat bookends to my L.A. experience. The first occured just before we made the big move west. The second precipitated our retreat back to Jersey.

Back in 1987 and '88, I was fortunate to be invited to perform at Caroline's several times, both at the 8th Ave. location in the Chelsea district and after it moved to the Seaport.

Campbell MacLaren was the reason. As near as I could tell, he booked Caroline's. And he was one of the few folks with any trace of importance who actually seemed to think that there was some sort of potential in my little presentation. I was grateful for his interest and I dug working in Manhattan. I sought his advice on certain matters and, when the time came to move out of Jersey, I was interested in his opinion on where I should go. My two choices were New York or L.A. I was determined to go to L.A. Campbell advised against such a move. His reasons were many. He capsulized things by saying that no one should go to L.A. without first securing representation or management. I listened to him, but I ultimately ignored him. We relocated in Burbank without the benefit of a manager or an agent. He counseled me once in a while via phone after the move. I eventually lost touch with him.

His words stayed with me for years after. I saw the wisdom of his advice and I have often passed it along to folks who were eager to shake things up with a move to the big city.

The move was a beneficial one in many ways, personally and business-wise. I got a lot of television shots, learned a ton about the business of entertainment and turned into a real comic. But Campbell was right.

Our L.A. experience lasted five years. After three years or so, the television shots started coming fast and furious. A friend of a friend told me to send a tape to the talent coordinator of Into The Night Starring Rick Dees, Steve Dacri. He was a magician from Boston who was also an aspiring film director. He loved my tape and he set me up at the Laugh Factory so the other producers could see me. I ended up doing two shots on the show in quick sucession, getting them in just under the wire (the show crashed and burned shortly afterward--I claim no responsibility).

I got a call from Dacri sometime later. He was interested in parlaying his experience as the Into The Night talent coordinator into a management gig. We made a date to discuss me and my career at Jerry's Famous Deli over on Ventura. I was psyched--somebody was interested in telling me what to do! The notion was actually appealing to me. It also represented a chance to set things right after having done things out of order (L.A. first--manager second).

I motored on over to Jerry's Famous. I waited nervously. I searched the joint for Dacri...nothing. Hmmmm... Are you sure nobody here is named Steve? I'm supposed to meet someone here at two...A guy named Steve. Nothing. I went back out to the street after a half hour or so. I looked down Ventura Boulevard. East first...then west...I don't know what I expected to see. I eventually learned that another mile or so down Ventura was yet another Jerry's. That would be the one were supposed to meet at.

After we sorted things out on the phone a day or two later, we made another appointment. This time we would lunch at Mirabella, a tiny restaurant over on Sunset, I believe. I made sure that there were no other Mirabella's anywhere and I carefully plotted my course.

The maitre d' advised me that the tiny bar in the back of the house was a great place to wait. He was so right. I grabbed a stool and ordered a beer and found myself sandwiched between David Soul (was he Starsky or Hutch?) and Hal Needham, director of, among other films, Smokey and the Bandit. Also at the bar was Carmine somethin' or other--I mean no disrespect. An actor of some repute, he'd been in a ton of movies. He plays a cop once in a while on NYPD Blue.) A real Hollywood scene, man. Soul wore half glasses and was hunched over a script. Needham was bitching about how he hadn't directed a picture in toooo long. It was in this situation that I waited for the man who would possibly set things right and point me in the right direction and enable me to stay in Los Angeles for the rest of my natural life.

He never showed. I think it was because he had finally gotten a chance direct a picture. His priorities were ordered such that he would drop everything and move to Florida to direct a low-budget movie in Florida.

Shortly afterward, the comedy business...well, you know what happened to that. Hello, U-Haul? What size truck would I need for a one-bedroom?

Life in Jersey feels like what I imagine it feels like for someone who lives in political exile. I am confident that I will return some day. I try not to become rooted. I devote a good amount of time plotting my repatriation. Will I return without management? I can't say.

Epilogue: One other story, dripping with symbolism, is pertinent. Among the many items given to guests on Into The Night was a beautifully-embroidered poplin baseball cap, emblazoned with the logo of the show. It was my favorite hat for a good long while. I wore it whenever I was vertical. Sometime in '93 or so, while were were debating on whether to flee or stay, we were strolling up San Fernando, on the way to purchase an L.A. Times, when we spotted a rather crusty homeless guy (vagrant, bum, drunk, take your pick). As we got closer, we noticed that he was wearing a black poplin hat. As he turned to face us, we saw that the hat bore the familiar logo of Into The Night Starring Rick Dees. Hello, U-Haul?

BRIAN MCKIM has performed standup comedy in all 50 states. He earned a B.A. in Magazine Journalism from Temple University. Any resemblanc e to a living person is purely coincidental. HOME Back to the Top