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Laugh Factory 

Edited by Kateri Butler

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The laughter was often just polite at THE COMMIES — should have allowed the audience to take those free drinks in — even if the honorees weren’t always. Comedian ANDY RICHTER hosted COMEDY CENTRAL’s first-ever awards yukfest at SONY STUDIOS. Among the winners was WANDA SYKES, awardee for “Funniest TV Actress,” which prompted one member of the press to ask if her show was even still on. Sykes answered the question during her acceptance speech, finishing with “I’d thank Fox, but they haven’t picked me up yet, so fuck ’em.” KATHY GRIFFIN accepted the Commies’ golden bobble-head award for “Best Plastic Surgery,” telling the crowd thick with agents and network types, “Like most of you here, I fucked my way to the middle.” LUIS GUZMAN tried to give away the “Funniest Female Character (Supporting Actress)” award, running through a list of 44 comedians to MARLA GIBBS, who gladly accepted. Honoree ANDY DICK showed up to present, even though his award, “Funniest Neurotic Character,” was cut from the show. ADAM SANDLER presented the Comedy Idol Award to a carrot-topped RODNEY DANGERFIELD, who thanked his brain surgeon before getting off some signature one-liners, such as, “You know you’re old when your testicles tell you when the lawn needs mowing.” Talk about going balls out.

—Christoper Lisotta

Music for Nimrods

“I guess the secret’s out,” noted a waitee in the endless line outside the KEY CLUB, where GREEN DAY played their first and supposedly only show ever as masked new wavers THE NETWORK. After an electro-licious opening set by blond beauty THEO KOGAN from LUNACHICKS and robo-rockin’ beats from DJ JOSEPH BROOKS (which got AFI singer DAVEY HAVOC and THE DONNAS drummer TORRY CASTELLANO grooving together at a nearby table), the Network hit the stage, faces concealed in an array of Mexican wrestling masks, invisible-man garb, and, on singer “Fink,” what looked like a tube top. As the band played, E.C. STAR put on a fashion show in which models with Haysi Fantayzee hair pranced about in punky ’80s getups, flipping off the crowd and bumping into each other. Maybe they were followers of the Devo-esque group’s “Church of Lushotology,” which Network manager JOHN ROECKER explained is all about “less guilt and more booze” (words projected on giant screens during the show and in pamphlets Roecker passed out from the stage). With a crowd that included actress REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS, South Park’s MATT STONE, art-flick fellow VINCENT GALLO and all the boys from NO DOUBT, the Network just might have enough celeb followers to rival that other “ology.”

—Lina Lecaro

Play That Funky Music

Over 140 films in 11 days and not a Brown Bunny in the bunch. Damn. But at least AFI FEST 2003 offered more than its share of shindigs. The fest’s second Centerpiece Gala came with the world premiere of The Statement, where the rainy night kept things low-key at the pre-party. Director NORMAN JEWISON and his star TILDA SWINTON — along with the festival’s ubiquitous UDO KIER — mixed in among the usual crop of industry types and vintage-clad indie filmmakers polishing off sushi and vodka in the ARCLIGHT’s CINEMA LOUNGE right up until the screening. Things turned hectic for the closing-night premiere of Monster, and got more so when NICOLAS CAGE strutting down the red carpet got the waiting crowd all abuzz, following the entrances of Monster’s CHARLIZE THERON (with fiancé STUART TOWNSEND in tow), co-stars CHRISTINA RICCI and BRUCE DERN, and ADAM GOLDBERG. Somehow, MARK WAHLBERG managed to slip in unnoticed by the paparazzi. Afterward, cinephiles hiked over to the HENRY FONDA THEATER, where original Real Worlder NORMAN KORPI and Monster co-star PRUITT TAYLOR VINCE hung out in the rooftop smoking lounge, while others like JEREMY PIVEN stuck to the first floor and listened to the DJs spin white-boy ’80s hits. Didn’t matter though: Those without 7 a.m. production calls danced until the wee hours anyway.

—Madelynn Amalfitano

Ham I Am

Actors, comedians, wannabes — and their older, wealthier consorts — packed the RENBERG THEATER for an encore performance of BEVERLY WINWOOD PRESENTS THE ACTOR’S SHOWCASE. After sold-out runs at both the Groundling and Canon theaters, Beverly Winwood was presented by the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Program as a one-night-only benefit for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s youth-services programs. Much of the original cast regrouped to reprise TONY SEPULVEDA’s hilarious lampoon of local theater productions showcasing actors desperate to be noticed by casting directors. (A series of mock headshots accompanied by equally fake bios listing high school, prison and county-fair acting credits was distributed to patrons by obsequious cast members.) Portraying the riotously inept student actors were, among others, CHERYL HINES, PHIL LAMARR, TIM BAGLEY, BRIAN PALERMO, PATRICK BRISTOW, MICHAEL HITCHCOCK and MINDY STERLING. Legally Blonde’s JENNIFER COOLIDGE delivered a side-splitting turn as a brassy stage mother who fills in when her offspring is paralyzed by stage fright. Applauding the purposefully fumbled props, intentionally dropped lines and deliberately stilted performances were newlywed lovebirds MEGAN MULLALLY and NICK OFFERMAN (who couldn’t keep their hands off each other), SNL’s WILL FORTE and JEFF RICHARDS, director SUE HAMILTON, M. Butterfly’s ALEC MAPA, and Bruce Almighty’s LISA ANN WALTER. To accompany all the ham on display, cheese was served at the after-party.

—Sandra Ross

24-Hour Party People

Everything but the kitchen sink was there to celebrate the official opening of the interdisciplinary REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater), located at Disney Hall: performance art, mariachis, stilt walkers, accordionists, cocktails, lots of people wearing red, and, of course, MICKEY and MINNIE MOUSE. The ’ROUND THE CLOCK launch gala was divided into four parts — Prime Time, Late Night, After Hours and A New Day. Prime Timers included architect FRANK GEHRY, artist DON CHEADLE, L.A. Philharmonic executive director DEBORAH BORDA, artist ED RUSCHA, and politico JOHN VAN DE KAMP, who were joined after dins by the Late Night set for jumbo cocktails in the lobby. After Hours was aptly named — QUETZAL didn’t hit the stage till 4 a.m. — but that didn’t stop Earjam co-producer JULIE ADLER and CalArts profs MATIAS VIEGENER and TRAVIS PRESTON from hanging out. But the highlight of After Hours, and perhaps the whole eve, was the VIP lounge set up by the performance group TOXIC TITTIES (HEATHER CASSILS, CLOVER LEARY and JULIA STEINMETZ), which spoofed the whole idea of party — complete with a 4-foot female nude ice sculpture with an alcohol-dispensing nipple, velvet ropes, a guest list and bruiser bouncers at the door. An event so exclusive that even CalArts prez STEVEN LAVINE couldn’t get in. A New Day brought out the glad-handers — Supervisors GLORIA MOLINA, MIKE ANTONOVICH and Councilwoman JAN PERRY — as well as Mickey and Minnie. Corporate culture at its finest.

—Marcus Kuiland-Nazario

Mackie Daddy

“There’s drag, Cher and BOB MACKIE, and it’s all ubiquitous,” said drag queen EVA DESTRUCTION at the L.A. GAY & LESBIAN CENTER’s 32nd anniversary gala, where Mackie received the Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award. Before the dinner and the awards ceremony at the CENTURY PLAZA HOTEL, the mostly 40-something queer and queer-friendly crowd — which included local politicos (such as openly gay Palm Springs mayor-elect RON ODEN) and actors JIM J. BULLOCK, DANNY PINTAURO, SAM PANCAKE and the evening’s MC, LESLIE JORDAN — cruised the silent auction, admiring the Mackie creations on display, including his signature Gone With the Wind dress and a few Cher “Half-Breed” numbers. “They’re not for sale,” sighed one queen wearing a white topcoat when he realized only lithos of the gowns were up for auction. “He saved my ass so many times,” CAROL BURNETT recalled, before showing a videotape of Mackie’s work, which included a testimonial from Cher, who congratulated her friend and vamped with what she called her “Portrait of Dorian Gray Cher Barbie doll.” MITZI GAYNOR noted: “He calls ’em getups, but I call ’em drag,” before the Sultan of Sequins came up onstage. “Does this mean I’m gay?” Mackie asked upon receiving his award. He skedaddled backstage to supervise the closing fashion show, which featured more sparkles, ostrich feathers and headdresses than a Las Vegas revue. Viva la glitz.

—Christopher Lisotta

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