Brian Dunkleman and Matt Knudsen perform comedy this week at Tahoe’s Improv |

Brian Dunkleman and Matt Knudsen perform comedy this week at Tahoe’s Improv

Howie Nave
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
Brian "Dunkie" Dunkleman, seen with Howie Nave, will perform this week at the Improv.
Courtesy Photo |


It’s been well over two years since comedian Brian “Dunkie” Dunkleman’s been back up here; and it’s no coincidence he returns the same year American Idol was canceled after a 15-year run. Why? Dunkie was Ryan Seacrest’s co-host on Idol during its first season and after that decided it was enough for him.

“I decided not to return for Season 2 in order to pursue other opportunities in the world of TV and feature films,” he said.

Does Dunkie regret that decision? He told me that departing Idol in its infancy was not his smartest move (looking back), but that he really did want to be an actor.

“Listen, I’d like to say that I was just young and stupid, but the truth is I really wasn’t that young,” he explained. “What I wanted to do with my life is be an actor and that’s going great. I didn’t like watching those kids being brought to tears like that and didn’t understand why they had to do it.”

OK, I’m glad to get that out of the way.

What I don’t get is that after Dunkie left Idol the industry kind of abandoned him, like they were pissed or something. Really? Nobody will readily admit it, but Brian was blackballed so it was tough for him getting gigs. Hollywood can be so cruel sometimes. They’re just jealous because they never got a shot.

When Brian was up here the last time he had dabbled in several other reality-based TV shows, such as something called, “The Sky Ball League,” which aired every Saturday and Sunday on Fox Sports Prime. It didn’t last very long, but I liked the show and Brian did a good job on it. He also had guest spots in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “Las Vegas” and a season as himself in VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club.” I’ve known Brian pre-Idol and can remember seeing him on NBC’s “Friends,” “Third Rock from the Sun” and “That 70s Show” on FOX. The thing that makes Dunkie a joy to watch on stage is that he incorporates all of those experiences into his act, so I imagine it’s part therapeutic and part liberating at the same time.


This is comedian Matt Knudsen’s second appearance in Tahoe.

Matt has been building up a decent following and his early life was preparing him for a career in stand up (even though he didn’t know it at the time).

Knudsen was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and grew up in the Midwest before graduating high school in Southern California. Matt tried college (for a whole semester) before joining the merchant marine and spending five years traveling to ports all over the world (more pre-comedy experience road-wise). When Matt finally did settle it was in Los Angeles and that’s where he would start his comedy and acting career. Yes, acting, too.

Knudsen started performing and working in community plays and took a liking to sketch comedy that took him to several very prestigious festivals — including San Francisco Sketchfest, Bridgetown, Limestone, Laughing Skull, High Plains and of course the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal where he was named a “Best of the Fest.”

Matt’s solo career is booming as well, (hence being up here in Tahoe) performing at the LA Improv in addition to other popular comedy clubs like The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory, The Icehouse, Stand Up New York, The Comic Strip and many others. Some of his television work includes being on “Boston Legal,” “Malcolm In The Middle,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “7th Heaven,” “Talking Marriage with Ryan Baily” and “The Late Show with Conan O’Brien.” If that wasn’t enough talent to share, would you believe that Matt also performs as a dancer, is a singer and does lots of voice-over work?

Matt’s critically acclaimed albums, “The Comedy Stylings of Matt Knudsen” and “American” are top downloads on iTunes and heard regularly on SiriusXM, Pandora and even NPR.

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.

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