Comedian Bob Zany at Tahoe for premiere of ‘Close But No Cigar’ |

Comedian Bob Zany at Tahoe for premiere of ‘Close But No Cigar’

Howie Nave
The Improv's Howie Nave, left, Bob Zany, right, and director Jay Kanzler will attend the premiere of "Close But No Cigar" at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Heavenly Village Cinema.

Bob Zany has remained true to the art of comedy not just as a comedian but also as a producer of other comedy shows, as a writer and as an actor whose latest movie, “23 Minutes to Sunrise,” starring Nia Peeples and Eric Roberts, is slated to be released next year.

The director of that movie, Jay Kanzler, also is responsible for the documentary “Close But No Cigar: Bob Zany,” which premieres here in Lake Tahoe at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Heavenly Village Cinema. The documentary will not only have Kanzler here but Zany as well, who will also do a Q&A before the screening.

Despite hundreds of national appearances on television (including “The Tonight Show” and celebrity roasts such as the one for Drew Carey on Comdey Central) and radio (including my morning show every Thursday with “The Zany Report), Bob still isn’t a household name and pretty much known to those who seek him out.

That’s what this documentary in part is all about. There are people who got their start because of Bob who have moved into top writing positions on such shows as NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” or beating out Carrot Top on “Star Search” and then cut to Zany driving to some comedy club in Omaha, Neb., hoping people have turned out to see him. In the comedy world I think Bob is a success because he is always working. That is No. 1, folks: Always working. The checks might be a little less than a Carrot Top but hey, he’s always working.

Bob will always be working no matter what he does in this business. As Zany puts it, “I’m a people person, Howie. I think I’d do well with a talk show, a late-night type thing where I can work the audience. With the Zany Report (heard on “The Bob & Tom Show and Howie’s Morning Rush”), I’m already doing a weekly monologue. I can be Letterman for the AARP crowd.”

“Close But No Cigar: Bob Zany” tickets are $25, which also includes a beverage and popcorn. Proceeds will benefit The Pet Network, for all those dogs and cats that need a home. The movie is 21-and-over, as there will be a champagne reception following the screening at The Heavenly Village Cinema. The number is 530-544-1110.

Bob had been in the business ever since he took the stage on the nationally syndicated television program “The Gong Show” back in 1976.

“I was a funny kid in high school and went on ‘The Gong Show,’ and then it took me 10 years of work to get an act and pull it off,” says Zany.

“You can’t teach funny. You can learn the mechanics, but that is about it. You can go up there with a surefire joke and then bomb. Look at Johnny Carson. He was at his funniest getting out of a joke that didn’t work. The scariest thing for me is getting up there with a set piece, that’s a lot scarier.”

The business of comedy is scary because there’s really no rhyme or reason to it. I’ve worked with some incredible comics on the road who nobody will ever hear of. Some chose to stay in their particular part of the country doing the same clubs for years while others use comedy as a means to become an actor or as a writer for television shows or even write for other comics. Right now Zany is reading this saying, “And some use comedy as a means to stay in Lake Tahoe hosting at the same place every night until they die.”

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