Howie Nave
Host at The Improv

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May 3, 2012
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Dat Phan, David Gee bring plenty of laughter, experience to the stage

Dat Phan is back for the first time this year. Whoa. This is weird; as I am writing this, I just saw his television commercial for DirecTV called "The Whale." I almost forgot how good of a character actor he is. Funny commercial, too.

Is it just me, or is Dat always happy? OK, we know he's funny, but even offstage he has this enthusiasm that is definitely infectious. I can't even remember a time when he was really downtrodden. Must be why he loves performing and making people laugh. That is a very good quality to have in this business, and it shows with the Dat.

Dat Phan is a driven guy. I mean, he never seems to miss an opportunity to perform - be it on stage, on a movie set, for a corporate event, a fundraiser, you name it. And he had this drive long before he won that very first season of "Last Comic Standing" on NBC. After that, things really kicked into gear, appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Tyra Banks Show" and doing constant voiceover work, such as his stint on "Family Guy." Dat actually has to book time when he wants to sleep, but even that gets canceled at times.

Dat Phan was born Dat Tien Phan in Saigon, Vietnam, but grew up in San Diego. He attended public schools and eventually moved to Los Angeles after graduating high school. He didn't have it easy and for a while was living out of his car, taking whatever work he could get while perfecting his standup routine. He caught a break answering phones for The Improv in Hollywood on Melrose Avenue. Not exactly a gig to retire on, but it offered him something more valuable: getting stage time at the famed comedy club at night after doing the phone gig during the daytime hours. It eventually paid off once that little reality comedy television show came long on NBC. As mentioned, he's done movies, TV specials and has some pretty good merchandise available after his shows (and online) that you can purchase, too. His latest DVD, "Dat Phan Live," which is available from Amazon.com, is a collection of some of the funniest bits I've ever heard and a testament that his act just keeps getting better. His album "You Touch, You Buy," is also pretty funny and available on iTunes.

He's been a mentor to young Asian comics just starting out and also to those not even in the entertainment business. I think that's why he's been rewarded by such prestigious organizations as The Smithsonian Institute when he was mentioned for their "Top 10 Most Influential Vietnamese-American Individuals."

David Gee can currently be seen on Showtime as part of Rita Rudner 's special "Rita Rudner And 3 Potential Ex-Husbands," which was filmed at the California Theatre in San Bernardino in front of a live, sold-out crowd of 1,700. Personally, with apologies to the other acts, Gee stole the show. In addition to just being funny, Gee does some of the most amazing impressions ever. What's even more funny is how he sets up the characters he's about to do. You have to see it for yourself, it's that good and, if you saw his Showtime stint, you know exactly what I mean. I think this special is by far one of his best ever. It's just another in a long line of credits that Gee has amassed over the years (decades). Gee (who dropped the "k" for professional reasons) is, without a doubt, one of the best hosts and emcees in the business.

It was Gee who mentored me when I first got the gig as the host/emcee for The Improv starting in Reno some 14 years ago, and even through the present up here in Tahoe. He's very gracious that way. Either that or he's still giving me pointers because I haven't yet gotten it right.

David has appeared on "The Tonight Show," was a semi-finalist on ABC's "The Next Best Thing," "Access Hollywood," "Entertainment Tonight" and, as I mentioned earlier, is a great host who is constantly tapped to host numerous fundraisers, celebrity golfing events, and isn't bad at writing poetry (OK, hilarious poetry) that, if we're lucky, finds its way into his stand-up routine.

He is by far the most well-respected host in the business.

There are some comics you really look forward to having up here, and Gee is one of those guys. ư


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 3, 2012 01:50PM Published May 3, 2012 01:48PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.