Don't get flip, Seinfeld! FAU student wants to fill your shoes

by Jeff Rusnak

The Sawgrass Mall is hardly a mecca for stand-up comedy, but for aspiring comedian Flip Schultz of Plantation the vast shopping metropolis is the site of his most memorable [and profitable] gig yet.

Proving he can get a laugh from even the most ardent shopping ninja, Schultz, 20, took first place in last month's Seinfeld Comedy Challenge, besting 15 other local amateurs who share the same dream-to become as rich and famous and funny as Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian for whom the contest was named.

"I did my three minutes and the audience liked it," Schultz said. "At the end when they announced that I had won, it was an incredible feeling. Especially since they had that little Seinfeld theme playing when I went up to get the prize. It's something I don't think I'll ever forget."

Schultz, a theater major at Florida Atlantic University, won a $500 shopping spree at the mall and a five-day trip for two to the Bahamas. He's already treated himself to a new car stereo with the cash. He's debating what to do with the Bahamas trip.

"I was thinking of giving it to my parents as an anniversary present," he said. "It's still up for debate."

Rewarding his father Stu and mother Bernie, both Broward school teachers, might be the right idea.

They have been to nearly all of Flip's performances since he won a Sunrise talent contest when he was 8.

Stu, Bernie, younger brother Darren, and as many as 30 extended family members are regulars at Flip's open mike gigs at Uncle Funny's in Davie.

Most parents don't think there's anything funny about their kid wanting to become a comedian.

After all, watching their kid traipse from town to town, scratching out a living on the off-chance that they'll be the next Seinfeld isn't the most secure enterprise. Schultz is lucky, though. Stu and Bernie are encouraging him to pursue a comedy career.

"He's been focused on this since he was 8 years old. That's all he ever wanted to be," Bernie said. "He's living his dream. What can you do? Break it? He will make it one day, I have every confidence in the world."

Stu helped Flip with his early material-impressions of Ronald Reagan and Dolly Parton. The younger Schultz has developed his own schtick since. He now performs well-conceived bits that show an acumen for writing and social satire.

He incorporates multi-culturalism into a bit about hurricanes named for Chinese- and Arab-Americans.

Another bit features a conversation with God, in which the Almighty says, "I'm not in right now. But if you leave your name, number and a brief prayer at the beep. I'll get back to ya."

Schultz knows he still has a ways to go before he is ready for a full-time comedy career. But he spends most of his free time at Uncle Funny's watching established club comics such as Bobby Slayton and Jimmy Shubert.

"The main thing I watch is how they handle the crowd," Schultz said. "That's one of the things I'm alright at now, but I need to get better. I watch how they present material, and I ask them questions about what working on the road is like."

Schultz said Andrew Dorfman, a stand-up comic and part-owner of Uncle Funny's, has helped him with the nuances of developing his act.

"He's put me under his wing, kept me under there, hit me in the head a few times, gave me a noogy," Schultz said of Dorfman.

Dorfman said Schultz needs stage time in order to improve.

"He's got wonderful raw material to work with and he's willing to take advice," Dorfman said. "Hopefully we can mold him into something."

Schultz, who will emcee a comedy show at FAU's Sports Rock Cafe on Tuesday, Dec. 5, would be thrilled to become the next Seinfeld. But he's set his sights at a slightly more modest level.

"The big thing I want is to be recognized," Schultz said, "When I can walk down the street and someone says, 'Hey, that's Flip Schultz.' That's when I feel like I've made it.

"I love making people laugh, making people happy."