Comedians Don McMillan and Nick Hoff to perform at the Improv at Harveys
Ryan Summerlin August 27, 2014
As far as I know, comedian Don McMillan, who performs at the Improv at Harveys this week, is the only comic that references Avogadro’s Number, XML and beta tests in his material. Fellow geekoids unite! He may not work in the high-tech arena anymore, but he utilizes his graduate degree every night he performs. That’s right, folks, Don graduated from Stanford University with a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1982. He has a bachelor’s from Lehigh University and went to work for AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he worked as part of the team that designed the world’s first 32-bit microprocessor. He then moved to Silicon Valley, where he worked at VLSI Technology as a computer chip designer. During his six years at VLSI he designed more 50 chips, many of which are still out there today. So why stand-up comedy, huh?
Well, after winning the 16th annual San Francisco International Stand-Up Comedy Competition in 1991, Don turned in his chips for a microphone. He went on to be $100,000 Grand Champion on “Star Search” in 1993, and that designation launched him into numerous television appearances, including “The Tonight Show” on NBC, CNN’s “The Larry King Show,” MTV’s “Half Hour Comedy Hour” and A&E’s “Evening at the Improv.” I can remember when Don started doing all of these commercials for Budweiser. He played the Bud delivery guy who mans the “freshness hotline” and protects the world against “skunky” beer. That really put him on the map in the visibility department. He was in commercials for 7-Eleven, Franco-American Ravioli, Little Caesar’s Pizza, ServiStar Hardware and United Airlines.
I messaged Don telling him I can’t believe the last time he was here was 2009. Wow. It’s not our fault it’s taken so long to get him back up here. I mean, look at the movies and stuff he’s been a part of: “Don: Plain & Tall,” an independent film that was awarded best comedy feature at the Back East Film Festival and the Breckenridge Film Festival, and the feature-length films“Air Bud III-World Pup,” “Life Without Dick,” “Macon County Jail,” “Party Crashers” and “Fanatics.” On the small screen Don has guest starred on the TV series “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Babylon 5,” “City Guys” and “Step by Step.” He was profiled in both Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide. You can see him online with his YouTube hits “Life After Death by PowerPoint” and “Live from My Cubicle.” Dilbert would be proud.
It’s Nick’s second time performing up here, and I can still see the wonderment in his eyes from the first time. I first heard of Nick via good friend (well, I think he is), comic and producer/founder of the Boston Comedy Festival Jim McCue. He simply said (in his heavy Bostonian accent), “Nick is definitely worth checking out, Howie.” I did, and you can too as he marks his second time up here to our fine body of nearby water.
Nick was born and raised in Nebraska and now calls Los Angeles home. He began his stand-up comedy in the Midwest, where some of my favorites also got their start: Nick Griffin, Mike Pace and Kathleen Madigan. While attending college Nick found himself enjoying writing jokes instead of studying and realized it might be a much more rewarding way to go then a life of academia.
Nick is relatively new to the business but has already built up a cool reputation amongst comics. He is also getting some good credentials, including being the featured comedy writer for Life & Style magazine, being seen on Comedy Time TV and being part of the aforementioned Boston Comedy Festival. Back in 2009 Nick was part of the “Walk of Shame Comedy Tour,” which spanned 16 states, 42 shows and 56 days. Here he is, five years later. He can now officially add Lake Tahoe as a place to be a part of when booking his touring schedule.