The Dallas Morning News,
Friday June 27, 1997

Ham on Wry

"Liebman slathers on the laughs with trademark deftness."
By Teresa Gubbins

Addison- Clever, witty, and lightly cynical, comedian Wendy Liebman served up a decidedly female point of view at the Addison Improv, yet still scored points with both sexes.

Ms. Liebman, a frequent guest on late-night television, was designated this year's best female stan-up comic by the American Comedy Awards in February, and she starred in her own HBO comedy Half-Hour Special last summer.

At the Improv, she skirted over topicality and "heavy" issues such as politics, instead sharing anecdotes and jokes about shopping, exercise, kids and marriage, sometimes with punch lines that keyed into a woman's point of view. But the humor was never exclusionary and her target, which she hit with great style, was usually herself.

There was her love life: "My new boyfriend is here tonight-which one of you is it?" There was luggage lost by an airline: "It was a carry-on." There was her driving: "I should drive a hearse and cut out the middleman." There was her shopping: "Like a lot of women, I love to shop," and then a pause, "lift." There were her mothering skills, her age, her immaturity, each topic lanced with a dry little dig.

There were also the occasional little non-sequiturs, offered in a deadpan tone that would do Steven Wright proud. She called Payless Shoes "Lookworse Shoes," and wondered if, in China, they call their good dishes "America".

One of her best tools was her ability to take a familiar expression or scenario and give it an offbeat spin. Regarding her experimentation with yoga, for example, she said: "You know, to achieve a higher level of consciousness? But then I decided just to drink-and then get your leg behind your neck like that."

The earthquake jokes didn't have quite the resonance they probably do in her hometown of Los Angeles, and jokes about the WonderBra feel a little dated. But her riffs on smoking cigarettes and eating candy were funny and sharp. She also used her interaction with an audience member named Rod to excellent ends.

Ms. Liebman's trademark is her delivery. She gives herself a straight line of sorts, then follows it up with a droll afterthought. A few might sing, but the overall routine is so light and breezy, there's always another, better laugh on the way.


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