Comedy at the Improv with Howie Nave: Jerry Rocha and Ronnie Schell perform this week at Lake Tahoe
January 25, 2017
Headliner Jerry Rocha makes his Tahoe debut this week at the Improv. My main recollection of the comedian is seeing him as a semi-finalist on the seventh season of NBC's "Last Comic Standing" — I remember him being blunt and brutally honest, which, truth be told, is refreshing. His tell-it-like-it-is, no-holds-barred style of comedy definitely grabs your attention.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Rocha has been performing comedy ever since he was a teenager, doing shows all over the country. Rocha finds humor in every subject — be it other people or himself — and his mass appeal is evident. Since relocating to Los Angeles, he calls the Comedy and Magic Club and the Hollywood Improv his new homes.
Rocha appeared in NUVO's "Stand Up and Deliver," was featured on SiTV and destroyed the competition at the Latino Laugh Festival. He released a top-selling comedy album on iTunes called "Take That, Real Dad," and even has his own half-hour documentary on the Travel Channel. Comedy titan Gabriel Iglesias asked Rocha to appear on the third season of his show, "Stand Up Revolution." Iglesias later helped Rocha produce his first hour-long stand up special. Not bad, Rocha.
Ronnie Schell has been in showbiz so long that when he first started, televisions were still in black and white. Schell's career stretches well over 60 years and still he bills himself as "America's Slowest-Rising Young Comedian." He's probably best known for his television work playing opposite Jim Nabors in the classic '60s sitcom "Gomer Pyle, USMC" and on "The Jim Nabors Hour."
I remember Schell as Marlo Thomas' agent, Harvey Peck, on ABC's "That Girl" — I had a crush on Marlo Thomas back then. Schell also co-starred with Goldie Hawn for two seasons on the CBS series "Good Morning, World." Schell's not just "old school" — he's also really old.
In addition to his many television credits, Schell has done his fair share of movies. He's appeared in Disney's "The Cat From Outer Space" (you hear his voice as the cat), "Revenge Of The Red Baron" and Carl Reiner's "Fatal Instinct," starring Mickey Rooney and Laraine Newman. In 1999, Schell co-starred in two independent films, "The View From The Swing" with Tim Conway and Jennifer Grant, and the comedy "Pride And Peril." Schell also continues to do comedy shows with his group, Yarmy's Army.
Schell's a Bay Area boy who started out in San Francisco back when political humorist Mort Sahl and The Smothers Brothers appeared on the scene playing the legendary Purple Onion and Boarding House. A graduate of San Francisco State University, Schell has given back to his old college by putting on legendary comedy shows to raise funds for the athletic department — the shows always sell out.
Schell was awarded the first-ever lifetime achievement award at San Francisco's annual Comedy Day celebration, which has gone on for 40 years. The comedian used to joke that the late Harvey Korman "Used to borrow part of my act," which I just assumed was the norm, especially since the late Milton Berle was notorious for "lifting" jokes from other comics back in the day. Schell knew Berle and a ton of other comedic legends including Conway and the late Rodney Dangerfield, so the stories are endless.