In our never-ending quest for seeking out first-timers to the Lake Tahoe Improv, we have comedian Dennis Regan here this week. Dennis has done dozens of both Letterman and Leno appearances, Comedy Central appearances, and has headlined clubs and theaters for two decades. I think he’s ready for our room. And yes, Dennis is the older brother of comedian Brian Regan, who was just here for a private function during the week of the American Century Golf Championship. In fact, Brian was the inspiration for his brother to go into the comedy, Brian starting some six years before Dennis traveled down the road. Both brothers worked (for a short while) for their father’s asphalt company in Florida called Tars & Stripes. I can only imagine what that thought process was like: “Gee, do I want to work in a business that smells and the temperatures are over a couple of hundred degrees under the humid Florida sun, or go on the road making people laugh where it’s cooler and being cool at the same time?”I imagine that Dennis realized he really wasn’t cut out for the asphalt business after seeing his brother starting to make some serious inroads and getting great reviews for his standup. As it turned out, once Dennis started, he, too, was gaining a reputation as a solid act and soon was opening for Ray Romano in addition to writing for the Kevin James comedy “The King of Queens” from its sixth season to its ninth and final season. He enjoyed writing for a successful comedy show but prefers writing for himself instead of other characters, I bet. Then again, I imagine getting a regular check is also nice, so it’s a fine line creativity-wise. Dennis even got to open for his brother a few times, which must have been a real kick.One can only go so far though in Florida, so it was inevitable for Dennis to pick a coast. He chose the East Coast, working comedy clubs in New York where he paid his dues like everybody else. Like all of us he had to audition in the crappy hours where the audience consisted mostly of drunks, but he persevered and was given better slots and getting more bookings. Would you believe Dennis performed at the legendary Carnegie Hall? That’s where he first opened for Romano, and here he is in Lake Tahoe performing through Sunday at the Lake Tahe Improv, the West Coast version of Carnegie Hall. OK, maybe that’s a stretch.
Bay Area comedian Sammy Obeid also makes his debut here in Tahoe. The Lebanese-American was born in Oakland and was a double major at UC Berkeley. What? Yes, he was already well-educated, having graduated from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and earning a degree in Applied Mathematics (with an emphasis in Probability Theory). What better way to prepare one for the mathematical world of standup comedy? Reminds me of comedienne Shayla Rivera, who gave up a career as a rocket scientist for NASA’s space shuttle program to pursue a career as a comedian. Further proof that comedians are very intelligent, even if they don’t seem to make intelligent career decisions at the time. He made the right choice opening for fellow Bay Area legends Robin Williams and Dana Carvey. Obeid became a professional, nationally touring comic by the time he was 27. Recently he did very well placing in the top three of the San Francisco International Comedy Competition amongst veteran comedians of 15 years or more. On the national front Sammy Obeid’s appeal has earned him “Best of the Fest” in the Arab American Comedy Festival in New York as well as the Out of Bounds festival in Austin. He’s also the youngest member of the national touring troupe CoExist Comedy, the founder of his own comedy group and enterprise, KO Comedy, as well as the first comedian ever to appear on the Food Network telling jokes. He was in Season 7 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” but was nixed in the Las Vegas round. Good thing for Northern Nevadans, because we have Sammy in Tahoe.