It seems like every time Graham Elwood returns to the lake he has something new to promote.
Last time he was psyched about his CD "Graham Elwood's Palm Strike Dance Party." At his previous visit he pumped "The Comedian's Got A Boo Boo." So what does he have out this time? "The Comedy Film Nerds Guide to Movies," which is the co-creation of Graham and Chris Mancini, who also performs at the Improv this week.
ComedyFilmNerds.com (also created by Graham and Mancini) contains not just the items mentioned but other gear from comedians of all styles.
Graham is a personal favorite in part because he cracks me up and also because we went to Iraq and Kuwait along with Scott Kennedy doing shows for our troops. That's a real test on how solid a friendship is, when entertaining not just on stage but how you click offstage in an environment not normally associated with standup comedy.
Graham is also a regular part of the Thursday morning radio show "Howie's Morning Rush" on KRLT in a segment we call "Graham's Crackers." Graham is so easy to just bounce bits off of. He has criss-crossed the country performing in clubs, theaters, stadiums and done six tours overseas (three in Afghanistan, three in Iraq) entertaining our men and women in uniform.
It's hard to pinpoint just why his style is so universal. Maybe it's because Graham is like this sarcastic hipster of sorts utilizing his experience as a game show host and also because of his improvisational skills. There are more parts to the Elwood equation but I can't remember all of them right now.
Graham's been in several humorous documentaries including Doug Benson's "Super High Me" and his own projects, "Hello Junkie" which received very nice reviews when it screened at the Sundance Film Festival, and one chronicling his performing overseas in a war zone entitled, "Graham Elwood: Live from Afghanistan."
On television you've seen him on Comedy Central, USA Network's "Strip Poker," "The Test" (on the F/X Network and on "The Late Late Show" on CBS.
When not doing standup Graham will often volunteer for TSA pat-downs at airports across the country to gauge the thoroughness and rate them accordingly.
Because Chris Mancini is performing here this week with Graham, they'll be conducting one of their ComedyFilmNerd podcasts from Lake Tahoe.
Both comedians started the site as a way to eventually conduct their business from one location not having to go out on the road so much just to break even. More so for Chris who is married and the father of two.
Technically, I think of Mancini more as a filmmaker than a comedian because of his work on both the big and small screen. He's also an author who utilizes his experience when he became a new dad. That spawned the book "Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked Out New Dad" from Simon and Schuster. It tells of the harrowing tale of a guy overcoming his fear of actually procreating and offers helpful advice for newly freaked out dads everywhere.
He's also the co-creative driving force behind "The Comedy Film Nerds Guide to Movies" with Graham featuring well-known comedians offering their expertise in the world of movies. Not just reviewing their favorites but we're talking expert critiques from comics who have a particular interest in a genre that is their favorite type of movie and comment on them giving unique insight as to why you should be checking these movies out.
Like his writings, Chris has this very dry wit with a buried sarcastic undertone. I mentioned his work as a filmmaker earlier and he's been fortunate to have his work displayed at movie festivals and also on a much larger scale on television reaching a much wider audience.
His short "Hitclown" is still a personal favorite. It was shot in beautiful black and white with a story that centers around a burnt out hitman and a burnt out circus clown. I don't know which occupation would be worst.
His television work includes being on The Sci Fi channel where he was awarded the "Future of Film"award which included a grant to make more films. The Sci-Fi channel also aired his award winning short film "SKINS," which The Museum of Television and Radio in New York archived as an "Important Short Film." Chris has screened and spoken at various festivals including Slamdance, HBO's US Comedy Arts Festival and most recently at Comic-Con in San Diego last month where both he and Graham had their own geek booth for which to this day I am still jealous.