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Finding humor in heartbreak

Don't think about crossing comedian Whitney Cummings — she'll get good material out of you.

February 20, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Whitney Cummings will film her Comedy Central special at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Saturday.
Whitney Cummings will film her Comedy Central special… (Michael Muller )

Whitney Cummings has her friends to thank for her career as a comedian.

Oh, and a slew of failed relationships.

Born in Washington D.C., Cummings spent much of her youth complaining — basically, screaming — about heartbreak and injustices. Many who repeatedly found themselves listening to her anger suggested seeking therapy or becoming a comic.

"They were just trying to figure out a way to get me to stop yelling at them all the time," she recounted, laughing. "Someone said to me, 'You should be a stand-up comedian — you should try that.' And I remember thinking in my head, 'Oh, yeah, that's right, I'm a stand-up comedian.' I didn't have to think about it — it was like I had found something I'd lost."

It's been about 10 years since the 31-year-old stepped on stage for the first time — with little money or success, but abundant delusion, she quipped.

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Today, Cummings' Twitter handle is accompanied by a seemingly ominous message: "Don't fall in love with me."

Why? Because if you do, odds are you'll end up as fresh meat for her shows.

"It's interesting because I say being in love is so exhausting and frustrating and annoying, but I also think that being in love with me would probably be a nightmare," she said. "I'm warning you — I'm a train wreck, I'm a lot to handle."

Come Saturday, guests will be able to hear about the men who didn't pay heed to caution. The Los Angeles-based comedian will take the stage at the Irvine Barclay Theatre at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

This is the final show of Cummings' six-month tour, which took her to Dallas, Denver and elsewhere, and will be filmed for a Comedy Central special. She recently appeared on "The Tonight Show," where Jay Leno gave her upcoming performances a shout-out.

Although venue president Douglas Rankin's personal taste in humor tends to lean toward David Sedaris, Spalding Gray and Mark Twain, he considers it a victory to host the likes of Colin Quinn, Dennis Miller and Cummings in the same season. To him, the Barclay encourages "sharing points of view."

"The Barclay is actually a somewhat large hall for stand-up, but intimate enough so that the response is immediate," he said. "I remember Hal Holbrook telling me once after a performance that he had to adjust his timing because he was used to much larger halls and having to wait for the audience laugh to roll from front to the back."

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'You're walking a tightrope'

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