Brian Dunkleman needs some love in the New Year and one of his resolutions was to be booked at the Lake Tahoe Improv here in 2013.
Our first headliner of the year is easily one of the most easy-going guys you'll ever meet. He has more than enough history to draw comedy from and, as I've said more than once, some of the best comedy comes from the most pain.
I first worked with Dunkie before "American Idol." Then came 2002 and the reality-based television show. Back then the show had two hosts: Ryan Seacrest and Dunkleman. After the first season, Dunkie "decided not to return for Season 2 in order to pursue other opportunities in the world of TV and feature films."
Does he regret that decision? Brian has said repeatedly that departing "Idol" in its infancy was not his smartest move but that he really wanted to be an actor.
"Listen, I'd like to say that I was just young and stupid, but the truth is, I really wasn't that young," he said. "What I wanted to do with my life is be an actor and that's going great."
Dunkie also said that he found it hard to watch the contestants get criticized. "I didn't like watching those kids being brought to tears like that. I didn't understand why they had to do it. I didn't get it," he said.
After Dunkie left the show, the industry was kind of nasty toward him. While nobody will admit he was being blackballed getting gigs, yeah, he was being blackballed. Every now and then you'd see Dunkleman getting chastised in the entertainment industry.
In an extra scene from "The Simpsons Movie," Marge, Lisa, and Homer, acting as Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell, respectively, audition the actual Simon Cowell for a role. When he fails, they drop him into a pit of lions, where Bart, acting as Ryan Seacrest, says that they "haven't eaten this well since Dunkleman." As recently as last year on the March 2012 "Castle" episode "A Dance with Death," Dunkleman is referenced as an example of a has-been game-show host whom nobody remembers.
But to be fair, since leaving "American Idol," Dunkleman has had guest spots on "Ghost Whisperer," "Las Vegas" and a season as himself in VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club." He was also on NBC's "Friends," "Third Rock from the Sun," and "That '70s Show" on FOX.
When he was here last, Brian got another hosting gig for the "The Sky Ball League," which aired every Saturday and Sunday on Fox Sports Prime. Dunkleman insists the program "is going to be bigger than 'Idol.'" Brian Kessler, co-creator of "The Sky Ball League," along with sports executive Danny Swartz, said "The huge success of our first season exceeded our expectations. We started out small and snowballed to the finals with amazing athletes, great personalities and a tremendous fan base. Next season we will be increasing the number of teams that will play in the league." Part of their success no doubt is due to Brian's improvisational hosting duties, which kept the pace going well in-between the action on the court. I'll always be a Dunkie fan and you will, too, when you see him this first week of the New Year at Tahoe.
I love a good comedy duo and it's so rare finding them these days, let alone a real good one with spot-on chemistry.
It's even rarer finding one to perform up here in Tahoe, but we not only excavated a very good duo but they're bringing in the New Year, too.
Carlie and Doni make their debut up here and, well, it's about time, too.
They haven't been together that long, but in the short time they've been a team, they have accomplished much and the word is spreading on these two.
It's always interesting how comedy duos are formed. When I first worked with The Stagebenders, they were already doing theater separately and sort of gyrated toward one another when they realized that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Sounds like the same with Carlie and Doni.
They met in 2005 at Los Angeles Community College Theater Academy and couldn't be bothered with the format for what was funny. Sometimes it's instinctive and just can't be taught.
Both play guitar, but had a knack for all things improvisational and both are, well, completely opposite, which makes for a great bond when fusing together a successful comedy duo.
Doni is a lesbian while Carlie is heterosexual with a preference for "guys with accents: I don't date Americans."
Usually it's a fellow co-worker or a best friend who dares you to try out standup by doing an open mic night, but in this case it was Carlie's mom who convinced her daughter to sign the two of them up for an open mic at The Comedy Store on Sunset.
Like most comics, they were insecure about how their style would go over with the crowd, but they clicked and have been perfecting their brand ever since.
Others have noticed them, too, including Los Angeles Magazine, which voted the duo "Best Comedians in L.A. for 2011."
Sounds to me like this will be the first and last time we have them up here as the middle act, because the way things are going they'll be headlining our room before year's end.
Happy New Year.