Say what you will about comedian Dat Phan (many have), but he is by far one of the hardest working entertainers out there on the circuit today. His audience loves him, and I think that’s what makes others so jealous. Even before his week here he was sending out posters about his Tahoe performances from halfway across the country. In the world of social networking Dat has it down solid. Because of the thousands of online friends Dat has amassed these past years it doesn’t surprise me that more than 75 percent of his bookings come directly because of Facebook. That is amazing. But, even without the social networking thing at his disposal, Dat is usually booked well over a year in advance. And those bookings aren’t just here in this country but overseas and down under as well.
Of course none of this would matter unless Dat was a solid act — he is. His energy alone is enough to get an audience charged up. He never takes his work for granted and feels fortunate to be able to entertain thousands of people every year. He’s rarely home for any extended length of time, but Dat knows when he does get some downtime he has a place to call his own. For awhile (not too long ago actually) Dat was living out of his car taking whatever gig he could get while working and perfecting his comedy act. He caught a break working for Budd Friedman’s Improv in Hollywood, answering the phones and taking reservations just so he could get that much needed stage time in one of the most recognized places for comedy. I keep thinking how ironic it must have been for Dat fielding calls from other comedians trying to get booked in that room by a fellow comic trying to get the same thing for himself.
Most of us know what happened next: “Last Comic Standing.” That’s right, the little NBC show gave an unknown comedian a chance to give up the phone gig and try to capture a national audience. The audience voted him as their favorite from a cast of thousands. It didn’t hurt that NBC was the network that carried the show, which gave Dat a coveted slot on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” After that things took off and Dat was getting booked everywhere. Movies, specials and tours started to materialize for Dat, and he capitalized on quickly.
Dat likes to give back and, whether he likes it or not, has become a role model for young comedians coming up, as well as for Asian people in all walks of life. Dat has been voted as one of the “Top 10 Most Influential Vietnamese-American Individuals” in the country. And to think at one time he was living in his car? Wow.
OK, we’ll get the obvious stuff out first: Yes, Marc Price played the character of “Skippy” on the long-running 1980s TV sitcom “Family Ties” starring Michael J. Fox (and no, he never did score with Justine Bateman). On camera “Skippy” appeared on “Archie Bunker’s Place,” “One Day At A Time,” countless Disney programs and those movie-of-the-week television shows. But Price has had a successful career behind the camera as well, serving as producer, writer and director for many television shows. He produced, wrote and directed 65 episodes of “National Lampoon’s Funny Money,” created comedy-oriented programs such as “Comics Unleashed” on Animal Planet and other shows on The Game Show Network. He was executive producer/creator for the “Green Collar Comedy” special on Showtime. I loved that show, which was basically an hour special featuring environmentally-themed comedians in an eco-friendly setting.
Marc has hosted scores of fundraisers for various charity organizations and is always thinking of new and creative ideas that include other comics — be it interviewing comedians for a new cable TV show or being part of comedians’ podcasts. He just recently wound up on a Canadian sports show defending himself because an imposter claiming to be him was trashing one of the anchors. As Marc told me, “it just blew out of control when ‘The Toronto Star’ and the ‘Huffington Post’ picked up stories about what the imposter was saying online.” The good news though is that Marc has been getting some publicity out of it all.