Wit is the tool of Tim Allen's trade


Comedian Tim Allen, the fool for power tools, can't get excited about his new TV show.

It's "like trying to tickle yourself," he says. "It's just taken so long to unfold."

Mr. Allen, 37, is being groomed as the next stand-up comic to make the transition to TV sitcom stardom, following Bill Cosby, Roseanne Barr and Jerry Seinfeld. His sitcom "Home Improvements," in which he plays a character he describes as "Bob Vila on steroids," debuts this fall on ABC at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays as a lead-in to "Roseanne."

In the meantime, he's finishing his regular stand-up gigs for awhile. He'll tape his second Showtime special this month (to air at an undetermined date), and start "Home Improvements" in July.

As with Ms. Barr, Mr. Allen's show is an extension of his stand-up persona: a mock-macho guy obsessed with power tools who turns into a hooting, gibbering primate whenever he enters the Sears Craftsman tool section. (He does the same basic routine in commercials for Chevy S-10 trucks, where he attaches a truck engine to a weed-whacker and destroys a picket fence).

On "Home Improvements," he plays Tim Taylor, super competent host of the TV show "Tool Time." At home, ABC says, he's "all thumbs."

"Well, that has yet to be determined," Mr. Allen says derisively about the all-thumbs bit. "I really don't want one of those sitcoms where Dad is an idiot and Mom knows everything."

He's ambivalent about cutting back on comedy-club touring and moving to Los Angeles from his home in Birmingham, Mich., with wife, Laura, and daughter, Kady.

"I'd be a fool not to take advantage of this, but I don't really care about the big bucks and recognition. More money just means more taxes and irritability."

Still, the money's good for something -- more tools. "I'm on my way now to Sears to buy a leaf shredder. I told that to the network guys, and they go 'A leaf shredder?'

"They just don't understand."

Tim Allen

When: Tuesday, June 17.

Where: Slapstix Comedy Club, 34 Market Place.

Tickets: Sold out.

Phone: 659-SLAP.

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