Comedy finally reboots in Tahoe with former SNL star Rob Schneider

Howie Nave
Special to the Tribune
Howie Nave with Rob Schneider in 2013. (Provided)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — It’s taken a while, but comedy has finally returned to Lake Tahoe, and it’s about time.

Las Vegas was the first several months ago to get comedy going followed by Reno in late April. Hell, even Carson City had stand up happening just last month but Tahoe?

As I said on my morning radio show, “C’mon casino people, COVID is not affected by altitude.”

With that said, launching the Tahoe comedy cannon Friday, July 9 is former Saturday Night Live regular Rob Schneider. Obviously the first question I asked him was what have you been doing since March of last year?

“Well, I moved out of what someone has referred to as ‘Chinafornia.’ I don’t know if that’s very nice and I didn’t make it up but that’s what somebody else said. I got out and now live in Arizona.”

When I mentioned that I recently passed the 20-year mark living up in Tahoe, Schneider said, “Howie, of all my friends that have good scams going, you’re at the top of the list being able to live in Tahoe.”

Schneider’s been pretty busy developing a whole new set and gee, can’t imagine why.

“I had nothing else to do. I was stuck in my house for a year (laughs) so yeah, I’ve had plenty to write about and the show is going to be a fun one.”

Schneider has also been involved in non-comedic endeavors too working as an actor in such flicks as “Judge Dredd” (with Slyvester Stallone), “Down Periscope (with Kelsey Grammar), “Grown Ups” (with Adam Sandler) and “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.”

Schneider’s also worked behind the camera as well. I bet you didn’t know he directed “Big Stan” (2007) and “The Chosen One” (2010).

“I directed a movie called ‘Daddy Daughter Trip’ that we just finished. I’m doing a film with Kevin James for Netflix right now called ‘Home Team.’ We’re shooting in the beautiful rainy state of Louisiana in New Orleans so it’s been a blast.”

Schneider’s stand up is pretty edgy and a far cry from anything you’d expect if you based it only on what you’ve seen him do on television. Those were characters from a bygone period in time and, as fun as they were, in no way reflect the current state of affairs we’ve been through just in these past 15 months.

“People don’t realize that,” Schneider said. “That’s the thing about American pop culture because once you get pigeonholed for what you do (on television) they think that’s you. Like Charles Manson. He got pigeonholed as a mass murderer but he was also a painter. People don’t realize that, Howie. Like his self forehead tattoo, there are other things that you do. I’m one of those guys too. I’m not like a mass murderer but if I wanted to tattoo my forehead, I’d be good at that.”

One of the things I enjoy most talking about with fellow comedians are topics that go far beyond just stand up and not limited to anything within our planet’s stratosphere. Yes, what lies beyond and no, not a conspiracy theorist but what the government recently admitted with flying objects that can’t be explained when Navy pilots have recorded these phenomenons themselves wondering what they are.

As Schneider put it, “We agree that there are UFOs but we don’t know if there’s anything in there that could have been sent a billion years ago from some other universe. We haven’t seen what’s inside there yet. But it’s interesting that the Pentagon released that information during July of last year during the height of the pandemic when there was a lockdown. And yes, it’s the first time our government has admitted that there is alien life and that UFOs do exist.”

But what of the timing Rob that the report came out a year ago deep into the pandemic?

“It makes sense, Howie. They were asking, “Do aliens exist? Do they have toilet paper? Do they have sanitizers? Can I get some hand sanitizers from them? Can they get in line in front of me?’ That’s probably what they wanted to know.”

It’s no surprise that talent runs in the family with a lot of my comedian buds. What is interesting are the parallels between some of them. I didn’t know that the ‘Pit Bull’ of comedy, Bobby Slayton, had a daughter who’s a talented singer/songwriter. I played some of her tracks on my morning radio show and wow, who knew?

What I didn’t know until just this past year was that Schneider’s daughter is singer/songwriter, Elle King. I’ve played a couple of her hits but at the time was oblivious to who her parents were. Her debut album, Love Stuff, produced the US Top 10 single, “Ex’s & Oh’s” which earned her two Grammy Award nominations.

King has also toured with acts such as Heart, Joan Jett, Monsters and Men and Miranda Lambert. I remember first seeing her and not only like her mix of bluesy Americana but that she also played a mean banjo. When I brought it up to Schneider he deadpanned his answer.

“What does this have to do with me, Howie? Are you saying she’s somehow related to me or something? You’re saying singer/songwriter Elle King is related to me? Seriously? That’s the first I’ve heard about that. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. I’m gonna look that up now to see if you’re lying or not.”

And just like that he turned into one very proud dad.

“You watch, Howie. She’s going to be the biggest singing star in the world. She’s a genius. She really is and thank you. She writes all my jokes too, she’s incredible.”

Schneider agreed that we not only need comedy more than ever but more truth comes from comedians than other modes of communication.

“The truth of the matter is you’re not going to hear what people really think on TV anymore because they’re all afraid and they should be,” Schneider said. “It’s comedians that are telling the truth right now more than government officials or anybody whether it’s Bill Maher or Dave Chappelle or Joe Rogan. People have to go to the source for truth and it’s either professional liars or comedians.”

I could tell right away that his material will probably ruffle some feathers, but good. This pandering to a mob mentality is BS. When I hear comedians tell a joke and it elicits a groan from some of the audience he or she is doing their job. So yeah, I’m more than looking forward to hearing Schneider’s new material reflecting the times that no doubt will have folks laughing pretty hard. And, I might add that Schneider’s material kinda meets the CDC guidelines set forth during this pandemic.

“I don’t have 6 feet between my jokes, Howie. I should though. They’re so strong, they get in each other’s way, they’re so bulky.”

This being Tahoe’s first huge comedy show is pretty exciting I have to admit, but Schneider asked a favor of me.

“Come backstage after the show not before because you always make me nervous. It’s your energy (laughs).”

That bad, huh, Rob?

“Look, regarding my show, if anybody’s insulted or feels unsafe with any of the material, I want you to go see Howie and he will give you a hug. He’ll give you a socially distanced hug where he’ll be covered in nursing gear with a face free mask and that tail.”

An Evening with Rob Schneider

Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa Lake Tahoe is presenting An Evening with Rob Schneider at 7 p.m. Friday, July 9, in the resort’s theater.

Advance tickets are available starting at $30 (plus tax and fees) in person at the Montbleu Box Office, by calling 775-588-3515 or online at ($5 increase day of show). Minors must be accompanied by an adult with a ticket. Seating is reserved.

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