Puttin' On the Ditz

She leaves her name on my voice mail, but she doesn't have to. Even by phone from her home in Florida, you'd never mistake Victoria Jackson's mischievous-little-girl tones for those of any other human being -- not, at least, if you watched Saturday Night Live between the mid-'80s and the early '90s.

When I call her back, Jackson, who performs this Saturday at Chandler Center for the Arts, is in the midst of frantic wife-and-mom activity. Along with her husband and two daughters -- Scarlet, 15, and Aubrey, 7 -- she has a new puppy to look after. "He's a Yorky, and he's reeeeally little, and I keep hitting him in the head every time I go to answer the door or anything."

What's the name of this new addition to the family? "Well, my daughter named him Buddy Buster Blues, but I want her to name him Mosquito, so I can sing 'Macho, macho Mosquito.' Y'know, 'cause he's a boy."

A Florida native, Jackson grew up in what she calls a "Bible-believing, piano-playing, gymnastic home with no TV." Except for the presence of a TV, her current home would fall into the same category. She retains a strong Christian commitment, even appearing on several occasions as the token Christian on Politically Incorrect.

She interrupts the interview at one point to ask her daughter Aubrey to hold off on her piano practice until she's finished on the phone. And as for the gymnastics, she promises that "I can still do the handstand, like I did on The Tonight Show."

She's referring to her signature gag from her 20 appearances on the show in the '80s: reciting poetry while doing a handstand. She also performed sweetly funny songs on the ukulele. Both of these shticks are part of her current stage act. "I sing songs about adultery and death on the ukulele," she promises.

Her Tonight Show notoriety was followed by her SNL tenure and by appearances in films like The Pick-Up Artist, Casual Sex? and Baby Boom. After reconnecting with and marrying her high school sweetheart in 1991, she settled in Miami, where he's a police helicopter pilot. She's stayed connected enough to show business to make the occasional appearance on The X-Files or Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, and she manages to squeeze in a couple of standup dates a month, but it's clear that living in Florida rather than L.A. has slowed down her career, and that she's not altogether thrilled with this.

"There's only three kinds of people here," she says of her home state. "Cuban, retired and naked. I don't fit into any of those categories." Then, almost apologetically, she adds, "That's from my act."

Of her husband's insistence on remaining in Florida, she says, "This is our only argument in 10 years of marriage. We have a great marriage otherwise. Being married to a cop, y'know, sometimes in bed, he'll say to me, 'Do you know why I pulled you over?'"

That's from her act, too.

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M.V. Moorhead
Contact: M.V. Moorhead