Why is Martin Mull in 'Laughter'?



* If the Lifetime cable network is designed as the service for women (which it is), and if it is premiering its second original stand-up comedy special featuring just female comics (which it is, tonight), why do we see so much of Martin Mull?

Actress Jane Curtin is the host of the cleverly-titled "Retaining Laughter" special, at 10 o'clock on the basic service. She performs some pretty funny written material early on, and terms the snippets of club acts from four comics -- Leah Krinsky, Ellen Cleghorne, Laura Kightlinger and Carrie Snow -- "a collective portrait of women as they see themselves today."

That's going a bit far. But each of the four is at least moderately funny, if alarmingly hostile toward the masculine gender. Even the Kit McClure Band on stage is all women.

But then there's the mugging Mull, inexplicably singing a ditty with three other guys (The Higgens Boys & Gruber), doing an obnoxious-passenger skit with Curtin and introducing old black-and-white clips purporting to show how nice girls should and should not behave.

Why, why, why is he here? As sex counselor Dr. Ruth Westheimer used to sing on her radio show, "Retaining Laughter" would be better had it "washed that man right outta my hair."

* Speaking of sex in media (and also outrageously stretching transitional lines), were there many listeners out there disturbed by the explicit content of an interview segment last week with Glenn Beck and the Morning Guys on WBSB-FM 104.3?

The studio guest was Naura Hayden, author of an unsubtly titled book, "How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time and Make Her Beg for More." B-104 says the switchboard lit up from callers with questions, and at times the talk was pretty explicit.

Media Monitor heard from several listeners surprised that such graphic subject matter was being broadcast on a station widely listened to by teens for its music fare.

Station general manager Jim Fox acknowledged the station received some complaints about the segment, "from mothers whose kids were in the car with them listening." He also acknowledged that teens clearly make up a portion of the station's audience.

But he added, "we had an overwhelming number of positive comments."

Further, Fox said, "this is an adult radio station" whose target audience is now listeners in the 18 to 34 age range, following its music format change last year to a somewhat softer sound than the classic Top 40 or contemporary hits format.

The purpose of the morning show "is to entertain and inform," he said, noting that other occasional live guests on the show have ranged from Cher to comic magicians Penn and Teller.

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