by Eva Dameron

Daily Lobo



Rusty Rutherford stands 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds.

But it is all muscle.

He's white on the outside, black on the inside and black from the waste down, he said.

Rutherford becomes hard-core gangster Rusta Rhymes in his comedy act "Rusta Rhymes in 9 Mile: Rusta Goes the Extra Mile" at Gorilla Tango Comedy Theatre this weekend.

"It's like '8 Mile' on wine coolers," he said.

The guy's got issues with growing up a hillbilly.

"My dad grew up in West Virginia, and growing up I was forced to listen to country music - I grew up in a real white family," he said. "That happened pretty much until middle school. I started listening to a lot of gangsta rap."

He said in part of the show, he takes a bunch of lyrics from country songs and turns them into a gangsta rap song.

"I started working on the character two years ago or so in a UNM writing class," Rutherford said. "It's a mix between stand-up comedy and a theater show. There are bits that are stand-up and bits that are real physical with audience participation and props."

Local comedian Kevin R. Elder directed Rutherford's show by adding physical theatrics.

"I wrote all the stuff, but he'd bring a lot more theatrical aspects to the show," he said. "There's a whole lot of physical comedy, and a whole lot of prop comedy. We'll do a bit where I'll fall and crash through a table, and I'll wake up and be in a different outfit, and it happens in two seconds."

He said there will also be music, strobe lights and a fog machine.

"It starts out really gangsta," he said. "I had a rough childhood, and I grew up on the mean streets of the Northeast Heights, and my parents sent me to public school. The big kids in class were always trying to keep a brotha down."

Rutherford's not sure how funny he is, but it's not worrying him.

"I don't even know if I'd say I'm funny, but I'd say I'm gangsta," he said. "Some people laugh but if they laugh, I just get up in their grill, bust some caps."

He uses part of the script from "8 Mile" in "9 Mile."

"I bring a girl onstage and we reenact the sex scene from '8 Mile,'" he said. "I have the actual script from the movie, and after that I talk to her and have her give me some details about her grandma."

Then he freestyles about her grandma while dressing the girl up as an old woman.

He also has bits about his girlfriend getting jealous of girls on his Myspace page.

"Myspace ruins lives," he said.

He described himself as a TV gangsta.

"I talk about being a hard-core TV gangsta which is the type you see on 'Cops' or 'CSI: Miami' or on 'Oprah' when she does the 'My Son's a Gangsta Show,'" Rutherford said. "She's probably the blackest white girl you've ever seen."

He said the script stays loose through the show to allow for audience participation.

"There'll be points where I'll bring people up and have conversations with the person onstage," he said. "Most of the improvisation comes from whatever the audience throws at me. It's mainly scripted, but it's loose."

"Rusta Rhymes in 9 Mile: Rusta Goes the Extra Mile"

Gorilla Tango Comedy Theatre, 519 Central Ave. N.W.

Friday and Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Late show Saturday, 10:30 p.m.

$10