Funny friends make dual headliners at the Improv
Ryan Summerlin July 5, 2012
Some acts love working together with friends who are also comedians.
That’s what performing at Tahoe has become for a lot of comedians: not just a week of performing but making a vacation out of it as well. I mean, why not?
Last December, when it was winter break for the kids in school, comedian Al Madrigal (now a correspondent for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) brought his family up so he could spend time with his kids while doing the comedy at night. Lately, I’ve noticed a request from comics who not only want to work with friends of theirs but also the family from the other comic so their kids can play together.
With Kivi Rogers, this week’s Improv headliner through Sunday, I have literally watched his kids grow up these past 11 years. I’ve also known Kivi’s wives, too, but we’ll save that for the podcast.
Kivi is a very likable individual, which is kind of amazing when you realize he had a tough upbringing as a child. He is the second-youngest of six boys and one girl who grew up in the Pueblo Del Rio housing projects. Little did Kivi realize that he was probably getting better training at that age ending up as a comedian than doing open mic nights to drunk crowds on a Tuesday night.
It didn’t hurt having a big family where he had to compete for the attention. I think that’s when his comedy kicked, in doing whatever to get to the front of the line with getting recognition.
Kivi told me that humor helped him during this time and that it also made him a popular kid in school because people tend to gravitate around those who are positive.
Kivi’s popularity would eventually take him to southern California, where he nourished his routine, building not just an act but a substantial catalogue of credits that would eventually include being on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” being nominated for Comedian of the Year by the National Association of Campus Activities and one of the most sought-after acts at the corporate level. He’s made guest appearances on “The West Wing,” “Everybody Loves Raymond, “VIP,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Dharma and Greg” and a host of television sitcoms and late night appearances.
On the big screen, Kivi appeared with Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow in the feature film “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion,” and “What I Did For Love.” He was also in the movie “The Amati Girls” that starred Academy award winners Mercedes Ruehl and “Dancing with the Stars” diva Cloris Leachman.
Having Kivi up here is always fun because he’s low-maintenance (What? You mean some entertainers are demanding? No way, dude!) and always gives the audience a killer show.
As mentioned earlier, some comics love working with other comics, not just because of the chemistry but because they can hang off-stage. One such person is Frances Dilorinzo.
She’s a headliner in her own right but she and Kivi click, which means the crowd is going to get a better show. Actually, it’s my master plan, telling headliners to bring their favorite friend-comic with them who could also headline, thereby making the week a blockbuster, no-fail scenario that rivals any other comedy club in the country. Lofty, I know, but it’s working!
Frances is a YouTube sensation, having had her “Homemade Implants” going viral (along with several other contenders she has posted). I believe she’s received 3 million hits and still climbing. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check it out, please do, because it is really funny.
Frances “gets it” because she hs been in some pretty heavy circumstances where comedy was not only her way of keeping sane but also her salvation when others let her down.
She’s always had this knack for making people laugh and it just comes from her organically, if that makes any sense?
Frances knew she had the “funny” during her years at college when others started taking notice. That would come in handy later when she was able to attract people to pay to see her be funny. It’s cool that Frances, while in college, credits one of her professors for making this opportunity happen. It was one of her English professors who, as it turned out, was encouraging his students in class to always add some style of humor when giving an assigned speech presentation in class. Frances headed his advice. Once Frances started adding jokes to her presentation everyone was in hysterics and word got out quickly about this very attractive, tall coed who not only gave an intelligent presentation but also kept their interest up because of the sprinkling of humor throughout her speeches.
It served her well too because soon Frances was recruited to the speech team and became the first to win California’s gold metal in the “Speech to Entertain” category two years in a row.
Years later Frances is still leaving ’em in stitches but (as mentioned earlier) is getting paid for it. Her ability to deliver the funny has garnered some cool television credits that include NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” “Comics Unleashed” and being on Comedy Central. Frances has also been on both the Lifetime and BET Network, Inside Joke on SiTV and “Funny Money” on the Game Show Network. Past credits include “Que Loco” on Galavision, “Comic View” on BET, “South Coast Review” on Cox Cable and “Comedy Factory” on Netherlands TV. She’s also performed overseas for our men and women in uniform making her one of the more sought-after comics to have on the marquee. All this and a mom, too? Surely she’s a clone right?