Comedians Shayla Rivera and Peter Banachowski perform at the Improv at Harveys |

Comedians Shayla Rivera and Peter Banachowski perform at the Improv at Harveys

Shayla Rivera, left, with Howie Nave, performs at the Improv at Harveys this week.
Provided to Lake Tahoe Action |

Finally, comedian Shayla Rivera returns to the Improv at Harveys after what has to be well over a year. I’ve had people asking me on a pretty regular basis, “When is that rocket-scientist comic coming back to perform up here?” That “rocket scientist” refers to Shayla’s segment on my radio show every Wednesday morning, “It’s Rocket Science with Shayla Rivera,” which has become very popular.

Shayla grew up in Puerto Rico barely knowing any English and watching American sitcoms to get an early start. However, it was her aptitude in math that really paved the way and allowed Shayla to graduate with honors from Texas A&M University. She then nailed down a job working as a bonafide rocket scientist for NASA in the space shuttle program in Houston. Her job was to determine the trajectory of the two rocket boosters that would splash down in the Atlantic after getting the space shuttle out of the Earth’s atmospshere. Shayla would pinpoint with amazing accuracy where the boosters would splash down, making it easier for the Navy to retrieve them. That role meant a lot of math and good timing, two traits serve her well entering the world of comedy.

Even though I’m a little biased, attending a Shayla Rivera comedy show is pretty funny. She has many points of view, from being a Latina, being a woman and just being downright funny. She’s pitched several television ideas to network executives and has a following in Hollywood, so we’re hoping her extraordinary background will lead to a television series.

If you’ve ever tuned in to listen to her segment on Wednesday, you’ll know that, in addition to her stage work, Shayla does a ton of fundraisers for the Hispanic community and also uses her comedy to entertain middle and high schools students as a motivational speaker. However, when you ask her what she loves best about her career, she’ll tell you that making our troops laugh at military installations overseas is the best and most satisfying experience.

Peter Banachowski

We also have a newbie up here this week. Making his debut at the Improv Lake Tahoe is Peter Banachowski. Born in Ohio and raised in Michigan, Banachowski launched his comedy career at age 17, winning a high school talent show. He had to put his winnings on hold and go to college first, though, working all sorts of odd jobs to pay for tuition and books. Apparently Peter had a lot of talents, working as a tutor, a busboy, a waiter, a dishwasher, a landscaper, a midnight receptionist and a television producer. While attending college he was also working out his comedy chops at the prestigious Second City Detroit and hanging out at comedy clubs.

After graduating with a degree in math at 21, he moved to Los Angeles, where he’s been doing comedy every night ever since, except for the year he lived in Brooklyn. Banachowski also graduated from L.A. improv schools such as the Upright Citizens Brigade and The Groundlings Theatre. He regularly performs stand-up at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store, as well as clubs across the U.S.

His style has been compared to that of George Carlin, Bill Burr and Bo Burnham, so it sounds like he’s not only picked the right influences but will eventually be lumped into those greats at the same level. Time will tell.

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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