Bob Zany and Billy Bonnell perform at the Improv at Harveys
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
I can’t think of a better way to say “goodbye” to one year and “hello” to a new one than with comedian/actor Bob Zany. He will perform this week with Billy Bonnell at Improv at Harveys.
Most folks know Bob from his Tuesday morning call-ins to my radio show giving us “The Zany Report,” which is sarcastic take on all topics — and with this being an election year, wow, Bob is in overdrive with his sarcastic news.
Bob is a one-man promotional machine and utilizes social media probably better than anyone. There’s his podcast, “The Bob Zany Show with Erin O’Conner,” Bob Zany on Twitter (@bobzany), Bob Zany on YouTube with his ongoing show, “Baggage Claim” (where he snags famous folks at airports as they wait for their baggage) and, of course, all of his radio call-ins coast to coast — including my little show, which is kind of exclusive. Even before the Internet Zany was expanding his horizons by not only performing in probably every venue in all 50 states, but also writing for other shows and producing his own comedy shows. Big names on his shows include Garry Shandling, Yakov Smirnoff, Robert Wuhl, Kevin Nealon and actor Nia Peeples. Bob at one time used to have his own radio show as well.
In addition to his comedy Bob is also an actor appearing on the big screen in such movies as Matt Damon’s “The Informant!” playing a lawyer, “23 Minutes To Sunrise” and even performing opposite Linda Blair in “Up Your Alley.” He also appeared in several documentaries and even made one himself called “Close But No Cigar,” which should be mandatory viewing for all those wanting to go into comedy as a career. The documentary is an autographical journey chronicling Bob Zany’s professional life, which includes numerous interviews from those Bob met over the years and some who have become major players in the comedy business.
In addition to his “Close But No Cigar” documentary Zany has several CDs out, including “Hi Home, I’m Honey” on Laff Records, “Bob Zany B to Z, Bay-bee!” and “Son of Bingle, His Greatest Hits, Bay-bee!” He also has a published diet scrapbook, “Laugh at Fat, Bay-bee!” (which chronicles his 175-pound weight loss).
Bob has had many highs and lows in this career of comedy — the biggest high being hired by his comedic idol, Steve Martin, to appear on George Burns’ Comedy Week. His biggest low? Appearing on Howie’s Morning Rush radio show here in South Lake Tahoe every Tuesday.
We’re hosting a new comic during the final week of 2015: Billy Bonnell. Although originally from Cleburne, Texas, Billy calls San Diego home; it’s where he spent the better portion of his 20s serving as an electrical technician in the United States Navy. Like I’ve said for so many years, you’d be surprised at some of the careers comedians have had before making stand up their ultimate calling.
After graduating from Cleburne High School in 2001, Bonnell took a year off to, as he likes to say “find himself.”
“I went to Nashville and tried to get into college there, but was unsuccessful due to being lazy as s**t.”
The unmotivated Bonnell eventually ran out of money and had to move back in with his mom. When he was 19 he decided to see the world and joined the Navy (well in part, too, because he was broke). It was in the Navy where Bonnell was first exposed to stand-up comedy through a fellow sailors’ Mitch Hedberg album.
“I didn’t realize people could be funny like that,” Bonnell said of his first time listening to Hedberg. “It kind of blew my mind. The things he was saying; I didn’t know what one-liners were.”
After that Bonnell suddenly became motivated, making the rounds on the San Diego open mic circuit. He moved up quickly and started entering various comedy competitions, which culminated in winning 2010’s “San Diego’s Funniest Person Contest;” he beat out some pretty stiff competitors. Since winning that contest Bonnell has gone on to perform at clubs and colleges in Arizona, Las Vegas, Texas and New York, and he was also made a regular member of The La Jolla Comedy Store’s “Best of San Diego.”
Bonnell said of his aspirations on being a professional stand-up comedian, “I want to make a living at it. That’s my goal.”
Welcome to Lake Tahoe, Billy.
Howie Nave is the MC at the Improv at Harveys. The comedy club is inside Harveys Lake Tahoe. Shows begin at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and tickets are $25 plus fees, except Saturdays. Tickets are $30 on Saturdays. The Improv is dark on Mondays and Tuesdays. Must be 21 or older to attend. More information is available by calling 775-586-6266.