No run of the Mill comic, Mark Pitta pockets Improv laughs
March 29, 2012
Of all his accomplishments, such as opening for Chris Issak, Celene Dion, Tom Jones, James Brown, Olivia Newton John, Smokey Robinson, Paul Anka, Howie Mandel, Dana Carvey, Foreigner and Rick Springfield, appearing on “The Tonight Show,” “Mad About You,” “3rd Rock From the Sun” and Fox’s “Totally Hidden Video,” you know what? Mark Pitta will be best remembered as the guy who created “Mark Pitta & Friends” every Tuesday night at The Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley (just north of San Francisco).
What makes that night so special in Mill Valley? It’s comedy night featuring some of the best in the business but it’s who isn’t scheduled to perform that makes this night special. It’s not uncommon to have Robin Williams, Dana Carvey and legendary political comedian Mort Sahl drop by Tuesdays and occasionally even do a guest set to a very surprised audience.
When I performed there last, not only were Williams and Sahl in the green room, but Robin took my wife, Nancy, up to the balcony to critique my set!
Mark is a true Bay Area boy, born in Oakland and raised in San Lorenzo. He started his career in comedy just as the boom of the 1980s was on the launching pad getting ready take off. San Francisco was the place to be back then when some of the brightest talent started their careers in comedy. They included Robin Williams, Kevin Pollack, Bob Sarlatte, Dana Carvey, A. Whitney Brown, Rob Schneider, Will Durst, just to name a few. Mark was there too and like most of those comics relocated to Los Angeles.
When Mark returned to the Bay Area, 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 but got burned out having to get up weekdays at 4 a.m. (oh, man, can I relate to that).
Mark has done pretty well for himself not just because of his Tuesday nights at The Throckmorton Theater but he still performs as often as possible, including this week here in Tahoe. Second only to comedy, Mark’s greatest passion is baseball, particularly the San Francisco Giants.
During Mark McGwire’s record-setting season, Pitta wrote an article for USA Today on how he would instruct the slugger to answer those ridiculous questions. So I think it was no coincidence having Pitta up here the same week that the SF Giants won the World Series back in 2010.
Mark and I have a close association and not just professionally. I introduced Mark to his lovely wife, Jocelyn, backstage in my office, and when he proposed to her, wanted to have the wedding take place in my office. Cooler heads prevailed and they were married at Harveys wedding chapel, where there was more room.
Chipper Lowell was born into a family of showbiz.
His father was a professional clown and stage actor and his mother performed as an “iron jaw” act, literally hanging by her teeth high above the cheering crowds.
The family was very popular and in-demand, especially being a husband-and-wife team. They performed in Canada, Mexico, England, Australia, New Zealand and, of course, all over this country as well.
Chipper’s parents’ friends were all performers, so as a boy Chipper was surrounded by a wide variety of circus, dance and vaudeville acts. Talk about a unique home schooling program.
Chipper had some of the best teachers in the business and learned his trade literally from some of the best. Of course he developed his own act that included elements from his past but also contemporary, incorporating stand-up comedy to complement the visual aspects of his act.
Chipper’s credits are impressive to say the least. He’s appeared on a wide variety of television shows, along with roles in a few films and dozens of national commercials.
He’s also racked up an impressive list of awards including one right here from Action magazine for “Best Specialty Act of the Year,” “The Chipper Lowell Experience,” which had a long run inside the Horizon Casino for two years.
The Los Angeles Times called Chipper “Frenetic, feverish and hilarious! A shameless crowd-pleaser!”
Chipper, in addition to his solo work, assembles much larger shows such as his production, “BLiNK! – An Evening of Award-Winning Comedy, Magic & Illusion!” for audiences across the United States.
As a producer, he’s created several comedy CDs for Rhino Records, including “Comic Relief IV, V & VI,” National Lampoon’s Radio Hour Anthology and “The American Comedy Box.”
Writing credits include “Comic Strip Live,” the feature film “SIX” and “The Magic of David Copperfield” television special. We’re just fortunate he’s found the time to come up here this week.