Charlyne Yi’s antics have been known to evoke a lot of emotion. Once during a performance at Alcoholics Anonymous, a cantankerous woman heckled her. “I thought she was going to beat me up. She was huge!” exclaims the petite Yi. At a biker-bar comedy gig, Yi played the clarinet, reducing the room to a dead silence. She returned with her talk show/drummer act only to stir up the Hell’s Angels patrons. Comedy club owners may not get Yi’s Dadaist stylings, but her fans do. Mention Yi’s name in comedy circles and comparisons to Andy Kaufman and Pee-wee Herman abound. Despite the generous resemblances, Yi isn’t acquainted with them. At 20, she’s creating her own point of reference. “I was afraid to watch Pee-wee’s Playhouse as a child because of the talking couch,” confesses Yi. While she prefers to keep her show under wraps, a night with Yi commences as a chat show where she’s the guest and segues to a Viking storybook adventure complete with clumsy magic tricks, a sock-snowball fight and nap time with the audience. Then again, Yi is known to date audience members onstage. At a certain point, she dies and begs the house to resurrect her, not through clapping, but fart-face noises. Yi comes off as unassuming. She gets the giggles whenever people try to act sincere, mispronounce Björk or make puckered faces while playing instruments. She has a weakness for ice cream. You think for a moment that she’s an amateur, a bit innocent, but then her absurdity sneaks up and takes you prisoner. And her drum rendition of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” is simply intoxicating. Steve Allen Theater at the Center for Inquiry–West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd; first Wed. of the month, starting July 5, 9 p.m.; $5. (323) 666-4268.
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