LIKE many comedians, Tanyalee Davis uses bad words in her standup act.

"I say 'midget' because it freaks people out," she says in a phone interview.

But as a person who stands 3 feet, 6 inches tall, Davis makes excellent use of the word. Often she'll open her act by addressing the audience, "Did you guys hear there was a midget here?"

While the term is considered derogatory to little people, some members of the general public, Davis says, don't know that people who have dwarfism find it quite offensive. She wasn't familiar with it until she went to school, where it first took on its negative connotation.

"It's like barbed wire coming at you," she says.

But the Las Vegas resident, who grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, doesn't entirely rely on the state of her height in her act, which she brings to San Francisco's "Funny Girlz" show on Saturday.

(The bill also includes Carol Leifer, a David Letterman show regular; Shazia Mirza, a British Pakistani Muslim comic from London; Aundre the Wonderwoman, the "Queen of Nothing Sacred," and hostess Lisa Geduldig of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy fame.)

While Davis admits her stature gives her an edge in the comedy world ("I would hate to be a white guy in this business, it takes so much for them to stand out"), she also says her material has matured over the years, and that she's focusing less on "hokey little people midget stuff."

Acting is her forte: "People love to see my movement; it's different from everybody else's." She has a bit about getting a bikini wax that has her scooting across the floor.

Her performances, in fact, are what first attracted her husband, who is 6 feet tall, to her.

The couple met on the Internet while both were living in Southern California. He came to see her show, and the next weekend they started hanging out together. It continued every weekend after that.

They moved to Las Vegas in part because Davis' career, after seven years in Los Angeles, wasn't going the way she wanted, and because she was miserable.

"Everybody's act starts to become the same," she says. "L.A. audiences don't represent the rest of the country."

Or the world, either.

In the United Kingdom, where she has a management team, Davis has found success — in Scotland in a show called "Abnormally Funny People" last year, and London, where she sold out a three-night run.

"The BBC actually called me up last week to do a show," she says, commenting that the Brits are more open-minded about their comedy than Americans.

Still, she's not about to move; there are mobility issues ("It's the Stone Age there") and because she and her husband would miss their pals (Britney Spears and Dolly Parton impersonators) and playing poker in Vegas.

Meanwhile, she dreams of becoming the next Peter Dinklage. She says, "He's phenomenal, he's classical. I would like to be the female version of him."