Giants fan, funnyman: Mark Pitta on deck
Ryan Summerlin September 13, 2012
I love it when there’s a fallout and I’m able to get somebody in on very short notice. Such was the case with this week’s Harveys Improv headliner, Mark Pitta. The good news is that he was available live nearby in the Bay Area. Plus I’ve known him for over 25 years, so Mark is a sure thing. Mark came up the same time as Robin Williams, Kevin Pollack, Bob Sarlatte and Dana Carvey. He has appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “3rd Rock From the Sun,” “Mad About You,” Fox’s “Totally Hidden Video,” Comedy Central and many others. When he came back to the City by the Bay he was tapped as the entertainment reporter for the fledgling FOX affiliate, KTVU Channel 2 (seen here on Channel 11 on cable). He did that for a while until he got fed up with having to get up weekdays at 4 a.m. (Oh, man, can I relate to that.) Despite all of his accomplishments I think his biggest happens every Tuesday night at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. That’s right. Tuesday nights it’s comedy night with ‘Pitta & Friends’ and every Tuesday that theater is packed. Packed with some of the biggest names in showbiz. I know because on Aug. 7 I worked with Bob Zany and, oh, yeah, Robin Williams, too! That was one of the most memorable nights I’ve ever worked. Pitta (as we all call him) has made a very good name for himself, having toured with so many great acts that include Paul Anka, Howie Mandel and Dana Carvey. He has great improvisational skills occasionally sitting in with the famed improvisational group The Groundlings when he was living in Southern California. Mark’s other greatest passion is baseball. OK, make that a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants. He was booked here the week that the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. We planned it that way, actually.On a personal note, I introduced Mark to his lovely wife, Jocelyn. At first he wanted to marry her in my office backstage where I first introduced them. Cooler heads prevailed and they were married over at the Harveys wedding chapel. That whole day both myself and fellow comedian Larry ‘Bubbles’ Brown helped him get fitted for his wedding just hours before the ceremony. I also took photos for his wedding. Yeah, I know it was all last minute but was a lot of fun and he still had time to perform that night on stage before performing later with Jocelyn. I don’t have any pictures of that.
Alex Koll is yet another Bay Area comic appearing here for the first time. Yep, Alex Koll, you’re so close geographically yet have never performed in Tahoe? What up, man? Alex is based in San Francisco and is a self-described “Funnyman and Entertainer of Variable Power and Speed.” Wow. Alex has been building a name for himself, performing at the prestigious Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, where he snagged a “Best of New Faces” award. Other festivals that have recognized Koll’s comedic talent include Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, Vancouver’s ComedyFest, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and San Francisco’s SketchFest. He also appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live At Gotham.”Alex is also becoming somewhat an Internet phenom, creating award-winning videos for IFC.com, SuperDeluxe.com, Rooftop Comedy and Revision3. Alex has also performed in short films and commercials and was the host for the popular “ROFL” comedy show on the Revision3.com Web network. Pretty cool. His sketch group, Boomtime (that also include fellow comedians Moshe Kasher and Brent Weinbach), has been featured on PBS. His debut album, “Wizard Hello,” is on Rooftop Comedy’s label and currently available on iTunes, showcasing his signature style. Sounds worth checking out to me. Pitta and Koll perform Harveys Improv through Sunday, Sept. 16. There are two shows at 8 and 10 p.m. on Saturday.