John Henton is one of those rare comedians who has the "Johnny Carson stamp of approval."
Yes, Henton has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," and was even asked after his set to come over to the couch by the late, great comedian. Whenever Carson did that it meant that he not only approved of your act, but that others would as well. Henton told me that when Carson asked him if he had an agent and he said, "No," Carson mugged, "Well, you will after tonight." It was a performance that Henton says gave his career a "serious jump-start."
And now Henton is making his third appearance here at Lake Tahoe, appearing at The Improv at Harveys for six nights beginning Tuesday, March 27 and concluding Sunday, April 1.
Henton is always a welcome release when he makes time to perform here. Although I had heard of him for years it wasn't until two summers ago when I was finally treated to his comedy in person at the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. He's made appearances on "Bob Hope's Young Comedian's Special" as well as returning to "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and starring in his own half-hour comedy special for Showtime called, "John Henton: Comedy With An Attitude."
John performed on Comedy Central's "Premium Blend" to a very successful response. When Henton was cast in the Fox television series "Living Single" starring Queen Latifah, the show received stellar ratings and TV Guide selected Henton as one of the "breakout" characters of the season. But it was his stint as the character of "Milsap" on the sitcom, "The Hughleys" that really gave him a huge and loyal following.
For its third season, "The Hughleys" moved to UPN and contributed to the network's very successful Monday night lineup. When the show came to an end after five years, Henton was proud and pleased with the work he had done on the show. John's stellar television work has not gone unnoticed, as he was recognized in 2001 and '02 with an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Henton's appeal goes beyond the characters he plays on television as he captivates audiences with his observational and topical humor. He continues to be a favorite on talk shows with appearances on "The View," "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and numerous other late night talk shows.
Although Henton lives in Los Angeles, he will always call Cleveland home. Currently, he is sharpening his golf skills.
Appearing with Henton through Sunday is Scott Kennedy, who redefines what it is to be a comedian. He actually looks more like a pro football player than a stand-up, and in fact the Texas native played football through most of his formative school years. After high school, Scott attended The College of Santa Fe in New Mexico where he studied psychology. Actually that is the perfect major for one wanting to pursue a career in comedy.
However, before Scott reached that goal, he, like many of us, had a long list of other jobs - from being a Porsche salesman to radio DJ. What? Radio DJ? Dead end, Scott!
Scott began comedy in Lubbock, Texas after a friend entered him in an amateur comedy competition. Once bitten by the comedy bug, he ended his long list of "real jobs" and started touring the country. Comedy proved to be the perfect outlet, for Scott's other 'secret' from his strict Texas upbringing was that he's gay. When asked if he was surprised about his new career, Scott replies, "Not surprised that I do stand-up comedy, I was always kind of the class clown."
Scott was one of the stars in The Gay Comedy Jam that first introduced his friends to his openly being gay. Were his friends surprised? "Surprised that I'm gay? I'm sure some will be surprised" says Scott. "That's OK. I hope a lot of them are surprised and come to the realization that gay people are not any different than anyone else. You grow up with them, go to school with them, they are your friends, your family, and you may not even be aware of their sexuality. Sexuality shouldn't be an issue."
Scott attended New Mexico Military Institute for three years. "They may have a don't ask-don't tell policy in the real military," Scott said. "In military school, it's more of a I won't tell anyone if you don't tell anyone policy."
Scott was the featured performer at HBO's US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., and also wowed them at the prestigious Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. Scott has headlined comedy clubs and theaters coast to coast including the Laff Stop's, Punchline's, Comedy Works, Funny Bones, Comedy Zones, and can now add The Improv in Lake Tahoe to his impressive resume. Just this past year Scott also completed his first half-hour comedy special on Comedy Central.
In addition to all these credits, Kennedy probably is most proudest for his entertaining our troops overseas this past year. Scott was out on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan four times in the last 14 months entertaining our troops.
Beginning on Tuesday, April 3, the Stagebenders will appear at The Improv for six nights along with Johnny Steele.