updated 04/06/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/06/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

Paul Reubens, 28, doesn't consider himself a stand-up comic. "It's really the character I portray, not me, who gets the laughs," he explains. But Reubens gets the credit for putting together an L.A. improv group called the Groundlings. Their midnight show, in which Reubens stars, is the town's hottest ticket. Playing a hilariously inept comedian named Pee Wee Herman, he has wowed Tommy Chong, who whipped Reubens into Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, and Steve Martin, who picked the baby-faced comic for his NBC special last fall. "His humor comes from deep in his soul," Martin enthuses. The son of a lamp store owner and a schoolteacher, Reubens grew up in Oneonta, N.Y. and Sarasota, Fla. At 5, he started working up acts from TV shows and was quizzed by the school psychologist about his "abnormal" interest in the tube, especially I Love Lucy. In his teens Reubens acted with Sarasota theater groups, and attended Florida State and Boston University before moving to L.A. Though his income is "next to nothing," he is counting on his next flick, Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, to be released this summer, to elevate him to stardom. But he doesn't regret his career choice of comedy—even though he views those in the business as "kind of crazy and neurotic."

Susan Brown, 22, will end an all-male tradition that dates to 1829 when she coxswains Oxford University's eight-man crew in the hallowed four-and-one-quarter-mile Oxford-Cambridge race on the Thames this week. A third-year biochemistry major at Wadham College, Brown is described by Oxford Boat Club president Chris Mahoney as "a female version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On land she's shy, quiet. But get her out on that river and she is confident and very aggressive." By voice and body English, the 5'3", 89-pound coxswain controls the beat of the crew, who average 6'2" and 188 pounds, and steers the fragile, tipsy shell to the best currents. (Brown will not be the lightest cox ever. Oxford, in 1939, and Cambridge, in 1862, came up with 72-pounders.) Miked, she never yells—she just talks persuasively. Last year Brown, whose parents run a kitchen and gift shop in Devonshire, coxed the Oxford women's eight to victory against Cambridge, and she was a member of Britain's women's Olympic team. She beat out 12 men for her new job and, after training six hours daily, is ready for the reputedly rough Cantabrigians. "I will not be intimidated," she warns. "I will choose the very best course and remain in my own water."

From Our Partners