Howie Nave

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February 1, 2012
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Zany, sarcastic weekend with comedians at tahoe's improv

When comedian Kevin Jordan made his debut here last week and learned Bob Zany would headline at Harveys Improv this week, Kevin told me said it was Zany who first booked him in a series of rooms across the country.

You see, in addition to being a first-rate comic, Bob was (and still is) a producer who puts on numerous comedy shows helping to get his name out there while breaking in then-unknown acts. His comedy shows featured such newcomers as Garry Shandling, Yakov Smirnoff, Robert Wuhl, Kevin Nealon and Nia Peeples.

After one such show, Zany was approached by Frazier Smith, the host of a top-rated Los Angeles radio show on KLOS. After a short time doing guest spots on Frazier's show, Zany was hired by KLOS as a personality with his own show Saturday mornings.

That was Bob's introduction into radio and he soon branched out from there with "The Zany Report," heard every Tuesday on my morning show and coast to coast on over 160 radio outlets across the country. It's Bob's take on things happening in the news and other contemporary topics all sprinkled with Bob's unique, patented commentary, baby.

Bob has one of the quickest wits I've ever witnessed. He can pretty much toss out anything thrown his way, be it planned or unplanned. The Zany technique began at the age of 15, when the native Southern Californian appeared on "The Gong Show." Yep. Chuck Barris' show.

Eleven years later, Bob would reappear on that same show, but this time as a celebrity judge and not a contestant. Other television shows soon followed including "Star Search," where Bob beat out Carrot Top.

Suffice it to say, Bob has an almost philosophical attitude when it comes to the comedy business: "What makes people laugh hasn't changed in the past 30 years."

Bob is on the road almost 45 to 48 weeks out of the year and admits, "I've been able to stay pretty relevant in this business. I mean, if I can make someone laugh at a joke in Fairbanks, Alaska, they'll probably laugh at the same joke in Wichita, Kan. For me, I was funny then and still funny now. I just wish I had had all the knowledge and confidence then that I have now."

Bob has been a frequent guest on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," as well as many other late-night talk shows and comedy specials. For 17 years Bob was part of the annual Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and appeared with Lewis for his final telecast late last year.

Let's not forget Zany's career as an actor. He appeared in everything from the documentary "I am Comic" to starring with David Spade in "Joe Dirt," co-starred opposite Linda Blair in "Up Your Alley," played a lawyer in Matt Danon's "The Informant!" and wrapped his latest movie, "23 Minutes to Sunrise" directed by Jay Kanzler and starring Eric Roberts and Nia Peeples.

But it was Bob Zany's own documentary, "Close But No Cigar," that showcases Zany's talent best. Why? Because the flick is all about Bob. It's a very spot-on look at the ups and downs in the comedy business and how Zany has survived through three decades of triumphs and disappointments. Catch him this week and, yes, he has CDs and and a treasure chest of Zany merchandise, including his latest, "The Bob Zany "Zany Putty.

This is Improv opener Gary Cannon' fourth time at the lake and the first working with Zany. Between the two of them the sarcastic quota for the rest of this year has already been filled with some leftovers for next year.

No doubt Gary probably spent his formidable years in the principle's office. At a very young age his mother knew her son had comedic talent when, at the tender age of 5, Gary had a very bad cold. At the time his mom was out of Kleenex and offered her son toilet paper instead. Gary immediately said, "I need to blow my nose not wipe my ass." After Gary was beaten by his mom (back then it was more prevalent) he knew he was on to something because getting attention is a necessary first step down that road of making it in comedy.

Gary has one of the more interesting jobs in the business. Besides his stand up Gary has been the warm up guy for "The Late Late Show" with then host Craig Kilborn and current host Craig Ferguson. He's also the warm up guy on "Last Call with Carson Daly" when the show moved from New York to Los Angeles and has also done warm up for the hit shows "Dancing with the Stars" and for Chelsea Handler on her show, "Chelsea Lately" on the E! Channel. More recently he toured the country with the NBC television show, "America's Got Talent" also as their warm-up guy.

He's also worked with comedians Bob Saget, Dana Carvey, David Alan Grier, John Pinette, Jim Gaffigan, Brett Butler, Damon Wayans and Brian Regan to name but a few. This is a knockout week of funny working with these two guys.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 1, 2012 08:09PM Published Feb 1, 2012 08:01PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.