Big Starr comes to Improv stage at Harveys |

Big Starr comes to Improv stage at Harveys

Howie Nave
Back-to-back Improv comics Joe Starr, left, and Howie Nave see eye to eye during Nave's morning radio show.

We love Joe Starr because he’s not only one of the best story tellers around (and I don’t mean that in a tucks-you-into-bed-every-night kind of thing) but a true craftsman when it comes to the art of standup.

Joe is a throwback to those old days of comedy where you had to wait to get to the eventual punch line, and it’s well worth the wait. Joe’s from Long Island and still lives there, bypassing the whole must move to LA thing and one reason why his comedy is so not generic. No disrespect to my southern California comics but every night down there you don’t know who might pop in be it a television executive or a talent scout but sometimes you are limited to just performing what you think the execs want to hear and not be yourself. With Joe, it’s always a New York attitude. And that would be a lot of attitude.

Talent runs in Joe’s family. His grandfather was a vaudeville performer and Joe says that talent in his family skips a generation so that makes Joe the keeper of the laughter.

The last time he was in Tahoe I had him on both my radio and television shows. I asked him about talent skipping a generation in his family and he said, “Yeah, it’s actually a common thread with most comedians I know. I’m sure it was the same with you Howie. I mean, you’re father must have been hilarious.”

When he’s not dishing out the compliments, Joe is very good ar dishing out the humor onstage. Over the years he has opened for Jay Leno, Father Guido Sarducci, Soupy Sales and Robert Klein. He’s a big hit at comedy festivals and has done his fair criss-crossing the country much like his grandfather did. In New York City Joe is a regular at the Underground Comedy Festival and also the clubs that dot Manhattan.

In addition to stints here in this country on Comedy Central Joe has appeared overseas performing at the “Comedy Factory” on Dutch television’s popular Nederland 1 channel. He appeared in Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center,” ESPN’s award winning mini-series “The Bronx is Burning,” “National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie” and more recently “Date Night” with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey (currently on DVD) and “The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn,” directed by Steven Spielberg (produced by Peter Jackson) that is due out later this year.

Joe says his fusion of comedy and movies can be traced back to Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin (like Joe) combines acting and physical comedy but unlike Chaplin’s movies Joe talks.

“My influences pretty much ended when television went to color,” he said. “I’m proud of that because in a world of fads and flavors-of-the-month, fans tell me I remind them a bit of Lou Costello or Jack Benny or Jackie Gleason.”

His philosophy on comedy is very basic. “I laugh out loud every chance I get,” he said. “I love to make people laugh until it hurts and I can watch someone do something they love for hours, I don’t care if it’s singing or delivering mail or changing the transmission in a car. To see someone in love with what they do is a beautiful thing.”

For the first time back in the 2011, it’s Don McEnery. Wry, very subtle, laid back some and intellectually on the forefront, Don brings with him once again his oblique observations to Lake Tahoe.

In addition to his standup, Don is an excellent writer. He enjoys writing for both the big and small screen. His work in television includes getting nominated for an Emmy. That was for writing an episode of “Seinfeld.”

Don also received an Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing for his contribution in the animated feature, “A Bug’s Life” (1998). Other writing credits include Disney’s feature film “Hercules,” the aforementioned Pixar/Disney’s production of “A Bug’s Life,” “Vida de Inseto,” “Bichos” and Sony Picture’s “Stuart Little III.”

Don headlines clubs and theaters all over the country and has also opened for such headliners as Howie Mandel, Don McClain and Tower of Power.

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