You know the relationship Skippy had with Mallory on the once-beloved sitcom "Family Ties"? How Skippy lusted after the girl next door (Justine Bateman) and she rejected him mercilessly?

Well, that ain't just fiction, kids.

"There's the story the tabloids never got," says Skippy-actor Marc Price. "I certainly lusted after Justine Bateman as much as Skippy did. And she rejected me. Oh boy, did she reject me. Our relationship was like that to a T. The writers would watch us backstage and take notes!"

But he kept going back for more.

"You know how it is when you're 15, 16, and you see a beautiful girl," he sighs.

Ever since the 22-year-old Price can remember, he's been on stage. His dad, borscht belt comedian Al Bernie, met his mother, a singer, on the road. "After I was born they started performing together again, and at the end of the show they'd bring the baby out," says Price. "It's a cheap device for applause. But that's how I got started."

The youngster started honing his own stand-up techniques, and at 12, he says proudly, "I killed on 'Merv.' "

"You know those kids on 'Junior Star Search'?" he says. "How obnoxious they are? I was like that."

Pause. (Timing is everything, you know.)

"Well, maybe not that obnoxious."

He laughs.

"But you know those 9-year-old girls who sing 'Don't Cry Out Loud'? Like a 9-year-old knows about that kind of heartache. I used to do a divorce joke from my dad's act. A kid doing an adult joke. 'They don't even call it divorce anymore. I'm being recycled!' "

Ba dum bum tissss.

Now, Price does material that's a little more relevant to his age bracket. Like on being 21. Or, rather, not being 21. "When I turned 21, I lost almost an hour out of my act," he whines. "I used to do this whole routine on all the things you miss because you're not 21."

It's been two years since "Family Ties" went off the air. Two years since Price hit the club-and-college circuit again. And, he says, it really feels good.

"I started stand-up when I was 12 and 13," he says, "but I think I really came into my own as a comedian at 19 or 20."


"I don't know what that means," he says, laughing, "I really don't know what that means at all."

Marc Price is performing at the Comedy Cafe on Friday night at 8:30 and 10:30 and Saturday night at 7, 9 and 11. Tickets are $12.49. Call 202-638-5653.

RELATIVELY REGGAE Okay, so reggae artist Maxi Priest didn't even visit Jamaica until six years ago. "It's where my parents are from," he sniffs, his accent so English, so refined. "It's my back ground. My music, man. My people's music."

He learned about Jamaica from his mother. "She used to sit us down," he recalls, "and tell us stories of St. Elizabeth. How they used to travel up and down the mountains to go to town and to school." Although he had never been there, he says, he felt it was his birthright.

Priest, ne Maxwell Elliot, grew up in London, the second youngest of nine children, "so," he offers, "I am slightly spoiled." His mother and sisters were in the church choir, but Priest would have none of that. The only time anyone noticed he could sing was when he went on a school trip. "We were singing carols," he says, "and a teacher from another school came up to me and said, 'You have a good voice. You should keep on singing.' "

He won't say how old he is ("we're not really sure," he chortles), but he does say that sometime after the English punk movement, he became a fixture in the tough Rasta clubs in South London. "I started building speaker boxes for sound systems," he says. "Then I started ad-libbing with the music. That's how I got the confidence to sing."

He attracted a cult following across the English countryside. Recordings of his concerts were circulated in the U.K., Jamaica and the United States. "I was known before I put my first record out," he states, emphatically.

Priest's music isn't pure reggae. He cites his influences as Motown, Elton John and the Beatles, as well as Bob Marley and Dennis Brown, and there is more than a hint of hip-hop on his latest album, "Bonafide" (Charisma). It's club music for places like London's chi-chi disco Annabel's rather than those Rasta clubs where he got his start. It's light. It's fun. And that's just how Priest wants it.

Maxi Priest is performing at Lisner auditorium Wednesday night at 8. Tickets are $19.50 and available at TicketCenter and Ticketron. Call 202-994-6800.

SILENT COMEDY "I feel like the Jerry Lewis of ears," says comedian Bob Golub. Four or five times a year, Golub performs his stand-up routine with sign language translator Mara Zuckerman by his side. "She not only signs the words," says Golub, "but also the timing and the attitude. It's like me talking."

The result is what he calls "the ripple effect" of laughter. First the hearing get it. Then the hearing impaired get it. Then the deaf. Three laughs for every joke!

Golub has two sisters who are hard of hearing. But, he says, that's not why he decided to develop this program. It was because of a girl.

"I was selling cars and doing my stand-up act in L.A.," he says, "and I sold a car to a girl that was profoundly deaf. I wrote down a joke and she laughed. That's when it hit me."

He moved to New York about six years ago and got involved with the New York League for the Hard of Hearing. He decided that he could do a deaf comedy show for an annual fund-raiser. Last summer, he sold out five nights and raised $20,000 for the organization.

"When I first did this, it was the hardest, because there was a lot of animosity from the deaf community," says Golub. "I was in a church filled with deaf people and I brought this interpreter. And I felt like I was being prosecuted."

Not anymore. "I'm no big name," says Golub, "but I can make a difference."

Bob Golub is presenting his show for the deaf at Garvin's Comedy Club downtown Thursday night at 7:30. He will present his regular routine Friday night 8:30 and 10:30 and Saturday night at 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30. Tickets for all shows are $10. Call 202-783-2442. The Telephone Device for the Deaf line is 301-587-1789.

MODERN 'MESSIAH' Handel's massive "Messiah" is, of course, a classic. Yet there is a large audience that isn't familiar with the classical repertoire. So gospel stars Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patti, Russ Taff, Sheila Walsh, Phil Driscoll, Phil Keaggy and the Imperials have joined a 200-voice choir and 40-piece orchestra to present "The Young Messiah," a contemporary production of the baroque piece.

"The problem is that our ears today are tuned a little differently," says Harris. "If we'd sit down a little while and listen to {"The Messiah"}, we'd probably catch it. But to appeal to a broader audience, we added some instrumentation -- not to take away from it but to enhance it ... to update it. It certainly has not been desecrated. Even Handel purists love it."

"The Young Messiah" was the brainstorm of producer Nolan Miller. A few years back, he gathered a group of gospel singers together to record a contemporary version of the work. It sold so well that this year he decided to produce a stage version. It is touring nationally for the Christmas season.

"You know, this time of year is both a joyous time for some and a very tough time, lonely time, for others," says Harris. "It is also a very hectic time. This has had sort of a calming, stabilizing effect on the people who have seen it. They have told me that they feel there is hope ... and of course, it's such a joyous work. That word, 'Hallelujah!' It's exuberant, joyful and jubilant. There's plenty of light with this, man."

"The Young Messiah" will be presented at George Mason University's Patriot Center Saturday night at 8. Tickets are $15 and $17 at Ticketron. Call 703-323-2672.