Bruce Baum makes Tahoe Improv debut |

Bruce Baum makes Tahoe Improv debut

Howie Nave
Bruce Baum was immortalized by his appearance on "The Simpsons."

Would you believe that this is Bruce Baum’s first time performing at The Improv here at the Lake? Other than having him as my guest for a comedy golf tournament years ago, this will be Baum’s baptism to Tahoe on our stage.

So who is Bruce Baum and why is he worth shouting about? For one thing he is the only comic I know who has written and recorded some of the best comedy songs about cows. He has also appeared on “The Simpsons,” playing himself in an episode entitled, “The Last Temptation of Krusty.” To be drawn by the show’s creator, Matt Groening, alone is pretty awesome. Someone once called him “A 210-pound circus with a mustache,” then rolled their eyes and passed out. He attended UCLA where he played football before transferring to UC Davis where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and then it was back to UCLA where he attended that university’s prestigious film school and earned an MFA in Film.

I was first introduced to Bruce in the 1980s when I was a lowly columnist writing a humor column for some Bay Area rag that folded after a few months. But meeting Bruce was a highlight. His humor is kinetic and very improvisational, which came in handy and led to his being hired as a consultant on ABC’s popular “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Before that Bruce spent two years at Fox as resident short filmmaker and sketch comedian on “Sunday Comics” and “Comic Strip Live.” He was then drafted by “America’s Funniest People,” where he appeared for two years in live and videotaped sketches. Who says college didn’t come in handy?

Bruce has opened for just about everyone, in part because he has been around forever. He was awarded two “Frackies” at Fox’s “Fractured Flickers Award Show” for his efforts, which he is quite proud of in part because they were only given out once. Bruce headlines regularly in Las Vegas, Atlantic City at some of the most sought after venues, but will take any gig he can because he likes to remain humble.

He considers his week here in Tahoe as a possible highlight only because the week isn’t over yet. Over the years Bruce has built a solid reputation as a hard working entertainer, and through his extensive exposure on television, film, radio and live performances he has proven there is no retirement in comedy. That’s because he has no comprehensive retirement plan.

He has a loving wife, though, so that is a huge bonus. Some of the many characters Bruce has created include Babyman, Dimples the Cow and Chiaman. Get ready to be inducted into the world of Baumism.

Scott Kennedy

Appearing with Baum every night this week through Sunday is Scott Kennedy, who was last here during gay and lesbian ski week. When you first see him, Scott looks more like a pro football player than a stand up comic, let alone someone who might be considered gay. In fact, he played football throughout most of his school years. After high school, Scott attended The College of Santa Fe in New Mexico where he studied psychology. What a combo.

He has had a long list of jobs before comedy, from Porsche salesman to radio DJ. Scott began comedy in Lubbock, Texas, after a friend entered him in an amateur comedy competition. Once bitten by the comedy bug, he quit his long list of “real jobs” and started touring the country.

Scott was one of the stars in The Gay Comedy Jam that first introduced his friends to his openly being gay. Were his friends surprised? “Surprised that I’m gay? I’m sure some will be surprised” says Scott. “That’s okay. I hope a lot of them are surprised and come to the realization that gay people are not any different than anyone else. You grow up with them, go to school with them, they are your friends, your family, and you may not even be aware of their sexuality. Sexuality shouldn’t be an issue.”

Scott attended New Mexico Military Institute for three years. “They may have a don’t ask-don’t tell policy in the real military,” but, Scott says, “In military school, it’s more of a ‘I won’t tell anyone if you don’t tell anyone policy.’ ” Scott was the featured performer at HBO’s US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., and also wowed them at the prestigious Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. He has headlined comedy clubs and theaters coast to coast.

Last year Scott completed his first half-hour comedy special on Comedy Central. But it’s his tour of duty overseas entertaining our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan that he feels has been the most rewarding of his career. Scott has been doing the USO circuit over the past four years now and will continue to do so until every soldier returns back home.

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