The angst of amour in the three-day life of a fly: "Nice to meet you. I love you. Oops! I gotta die." So goes one of the strange routines of comedian Chip Franklin, who says humor isn't necessarily "happiness." Rather it's a way of coming to grips with fear, death and whatever else creeps up on the soul.

Franklin -- headlining at the new Garvin's Comedy Club at 14th and L streets NW (previously the Comedy Cafe) this weekend -- is a native Washingtonian who fell into comedy via his less-than-spectacular rock 'n' roll career. After beating out his Randy Newman-style music in clubs and colleges, he realized his jokes had more punch than his tunes. Gradually, music fell by the wayside and Franklin found himself standing on college cafeteria tables screaming out his routines to rooms full of comedy-starved students.

"The response to comedy is more visceral," says Franklin of his four-year-old comedy career. "With music, you play a song and people just applaud, but with comedy that applause shoots right into your veins."

Franklin is now touring comedy clubs and college campuses -- primarily on the East Coast and in the Midwest -- as well as appearing on several television shows, including Fox Television's New Year's Eve special "Rockin' Tonight" and Arch Campbell's local talent show.

His comedy is not the usual parody and sexual puns. It's more the pursuit of the inverted norm. "Things people just don't think about," says Franklin. The execution of prisoners on death row at dawn, video souvenirs of pained mothers in labor and heirs to living wills are a few atypical topics he plumbs in his routines.

Franklin performs Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30 and 9:30. For information, call 726-1334.