Six months ago, local funnyman Steve Hudson misunderstood Horace Greeley's advice to "Go west, young comedian." He got the right direction, wrong town, ending up in San Diego instead of mecca Hollywood. "Actually I tried Los Angeles but I didn't particularly like it. I wanted to keep some human integrity," he insists.

Hudson, a fixture on the Beltway lounge circuit for many years, established himself quickly in San Diego. "I fell into a group of club-restaurants, 150- to 200-seat rooms where I 'hit.' They kind of banked on my future ability to be a draw in that area, where they don't have much in the way of entertainment. They thought I was something, so they let me do music and comedy, including my originals. It's almost like working showcase clubs." Hudson has returned for an engagement at the Steak 'n' Surf in "the hinterlands of Fairfax." He'll be there through New Year's Eve.

Hudson has also connected with the Comedy Store in La Jolla, north of San Diego. "Those folks liked me, too . . . My material is clean but dumb enough to make people laugh," he says.

Hudson writes extended bits and "just plain dumb songs with original music," buttressed with a lot of visual gags (like Jason and the Raisinettes and their encore number "Raisin to Believe"; or "Take Me Out to Lunch," where he puts a sandwich in a harmonica holder). "I don't know if I want to go whole-hog into stand-up comedy," Hudson says. "That's my only hold back. I like the friendship that musicians have; there's more camaraderie, they need each other. Comics don't really need each other. And on the West Coast, you have to expand a little bit, you can't rely as much on innuendo: like a pie in the face -- you have to explain it sometimes."