Just as there are so few straight lines in nature, good straight men — Bud Abbott, Dean Martin, Bert Wheeler of Wheeler & Woolsey — are hard to find. For now, comedian Fred Willard fills this gap as he's done for more than 40 years. Tonight's Tribute to Fred Willard — part of Cinefamily's 2nd Annual Comedy Festival — showcases the peculiar and subtle comic talents of Willard in his most popular roles. There's the world of Christopher Guest, in which Willard's straight man manifests the spirit of the clueless huckster; and the world of Martin Mull, for whom he played sidekick Jerry Hubbard on the criminally underrated '70s talk-show parody Fernwood 2 Night . Willard's variation of the straight man was a knowing satire on the painfully hip and “with-it” world of late-night talk shows. He's the reverse of Ed McMahon, eternally laughing no matter how stupid and unfunny the material is. Tonight's schedule includes rare clips from Fernwood 2 Night , his role in Mull's 1985 HBO special, The History Of White People In America , and other Willard odds and ends from the great cultural gyre for which Cinefamily is so rightly notorious. Mr. Willard himself will be on hand.

Sun., June 20, 7 p.m., 2010

LA Weekly