Comedians John Caponera and Carrie Snow perform at the Tahoe Improv
It’s a back-to-back week of Chicago-native comedians at the Improv at Harveys. Last week it was Rocky LaPorte, this week it’s a fine Chicago comedian who came up with Rocky — John Caponera. With his signature tagline, “Comedy! Comin’ attcha!,” “Cap” (as we affectionately refer to him) sets the stage for what will be a memorable evening of comedy. He’s a real powerhouse of positive energy, covering everything from his strong Italian upbringing to why there are some pretty clueless people out there. Speaking of Italian, John parlayed that family background into a comedy special that aired on Showtime called “The Godfathers of Comedy,” which also starred fellow Italian comedian LaPorte. John has also starred in numerous shows, including “The Good Life,” and was the host of Comedy Central’s “Jocks” and ESPN’s “Talk II.” He guest starred on NBC’s long-running hospital drama “ER,” in addition to “Love & War,” “Blossom” and one of my favorite cable horror shows of all time, “Tales From The Crypt” on HBO.
If you’re a sports fan, you’re gonna love it when Cap launches into his dead-on impression of Chicago’s greatest play-by-play sports announcers of all time — The Chicago Cub’s Harry Caray. Cap goes beyond just impersonating him. He slots Caray into these crazy situations as if he were broadcasting a game while telling the listeners what happened to him the night before. You have to see it to really appreciate the bit. He also does a great impression of another great sports announcer, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Vin Scully. John will incorporate the audience at times and reminds them that they’re actually experiencing a live comedy performance, and they don’t have to check their cellphones every second.
John has a lot of great press and, more importantly, great press from his own backyard. Howell J. Jr. of The Chicago Tribune wrote, “Every so often the kingdom of comedy is graced with a gifted, naturally refined performer who can effectively demonstrate the transcendental powers of the medium while making it look deceptively easy.”
Michael Paskevich of The Las Vegas Review-Journal calls John, “Unafraid of letting a room grow quiet, Caponera sets his own intentionally erratic pace, pausing to perfection to complement his oddly timed but rewarding comic insights. The jokes are further bolstered by his talent for facial gestures that range from goofy to arrogant, making Caponera arguably the hottest club headliner going at present.” Truer words were never written.
John and I both went overseas entertaining the troops in the Middle East, and he still believes, as do I, that there has never been a greater audience than that of our military. John’s pretty patriotic, too, and makes no apologies about it. He’s a good comic, a good dad and likes to give back to his community whenever possible.
Everytime Carrie Snow comes up here she tries to bring her dog, T.J., with her because Harveys Lake Tahoe has a floor dedicated to all things canine. We just love dogs and, in fact, talk about them in our sets. I’ve known Carrie for years. Our relationship goes back to the last century, when I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I think that’s the first time I saw her one-woman show, “7000 Sailors Can’t Be Wrong.” She’s brilliant as a stand-up, as a sketch performer and as an actress. She’s very versatile when it comes to her comedy, and not just with her jokes but her stories. I love her stories.
If memory serves Carrie was working as a receptionist for Kaiser Permanente in Berkeley during the day while honing her craft doing stand-up at night right about the time when the huge comedy boom was taking place in the ’80s. She rode that wave of humor through that decade pretty good, too, landing a job as a writer for “Roseanne.” She soon found out that being a writer for that show went beyond the call of just writing. In other words, Roseanne Barr was kind of demanding but still a good mentor in many ways. Carrie went far beyond the job description of joke writer for that sitcom but said the experience working for the sometimes temperamental comedian worked out well for her. When I knew Carrie she was always trying to lose weight for auditions but found a kindred spirit in Roseanne, proving funny supercedes having to be a toothpick of an actress. When Roseanne started dieting Carrie felt inspired, and she told me, “I was on a diet for 35 years before I was 42. The d-word is worse than the f-word.”
Carrie’s style of humor is smart, accessible and, like I said, has a storytelling element to it. Carrie likes to take her time with a joke, which can be a quick punch to the gut or one that has a slow burn with a funny conclusion. Her comparisons also always crack me up: “Having a male gynecologist is like going to an auto mechanic who doesn’t own a car.” I forget sometimes that when Carrie was starting out she was one of only a handful of other female acts working the road, so mentors were tough to come by. Carrie talks very highly of physical comedic legends such as Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers. But she realized that being funny transcends gender saying, “If you are a real comic, man or woman, your act is who you are.” But, she added, “I think women bring a deeper context.”
Carrie has lots of other credits, one of my favorites being her appearance in the comic film documentary, “The Aristocrats.” She’s also an author, too. Her book, “My Mom is Meaner Than Your Mom,” could be made into a motion picture and is hilarious. In fact, I think there are plans to do something with her book, but with a new title. Carrie has appeared on “Oprah,” Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” and Showtime’s “Comedy Club All-Stars.” She’s a good one, folks, and I think you’re going to like the solid billing of Carrie with Caponera.
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 and Sundays and tickets are $25 plus fees. Saturday shows take place at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and tickets cost $30 plus fees. 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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