Comedy at the Improv: Dat Phan and Joe Dosch perform this week |

Comedy at the Improv: Dat Phan and Joe Dosch perform this week

Howie Nave
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
Dat Phan, pictured with Howie Nave, will perform this week at Tahoe's South Shore Improv.
Courtesy Photo |


One of the hardest working comedians in the business returns to South Lake Tahoe. (No, I already live here — so it must be Dat Phan.) He will perform this week with Joe Dosch.

In fact, Dat was posting all over social media, complete with posters, for his week coming up here to South Tahoe. He has a loyal following, his audience loves him, and I think that’s what sets him apart from a lot of other comedians.

None of this would matter unless Dat had a solid act — and he does. His material is very relatable and touches quite a bit on family. In fact, it was family that was in part his inspiration for going into comedy. Born Dat Tien Phan in Saigon, Vietnam, he grew up in San Diego, barely making ends meet; and after high school Dat headed to Los Angeles with the dream of making it in comedy. He started though answering phones for The Improv in Hollywood. He was able to convince Improv founder Budd Friedman for stage time at night after doing his phone gig during the day. It paid off when NBC launched a little reality-based television show called “Last Comic Standing.” The first season was very similar to American Idol, tapping into unproven, untried talent. Dat won the very first show, which opened doors almost immediately for him. After winning that competition Dat’s career officially was launched.

Of course it didn’t hurt that NBC was the network that also carried the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” which Dat appeared on; then other late night shows followed. His bookings increased and Dat was popping up everywhere, including movies, specials and national headlining tours.

With the release of DVDs and CDs, Dat started honing his acting chops, appearing in national television commercials and then movies — starting with a cameo in the movie “Cellular,” following that up with the movie, “Yellow Fever.” Other roles came his way in movies like “Sake-Bomb,” “Hungover Games” and “108 Stitches” (with Dat Phan in a co-leading role). Television series include “Bones,” “Scorpion,” “The Last Ship,” “Startup,” “Spring Break ‘83” and “NAMCAR Night Race.” Not bad.

Dat likes to give back and — whether he likes it or not — has become a role model for young comedians and Asians in all walks of life. Because of that, Dat was included in The Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition of The Top 10 Most Influential Vietnamese-American Individuals. It’s not bad for a guy who was living out of his car trying to make ends meet and determined to make a name for himself.


Welcome comedian Joe Dosch, who appears for a third time up here. Oh, sure, things might be slowing down a bit population-wise — but the comedy sure hasn’t.

Speaking of which, if anybody started out in a slower place in comedy, it was Joe. Why? Being from South Dakota and doing comedy isn’t exactly a match made in heaven. To be fair, his career in comedy actually started happening when he moved to Montana, another state not known for launching successful comedy careers. However, the good news is that Montana will laugh at most anything because they don’t get to experience it on a regular basis. Joe not only did very well while living there, but also helped tear down stereotypes. Oh, did I mention that Joe is gay? He did pretty well, but still it was probably a wise move on his part that Joe moved to Los Angeles to pursue stand up on a full time basis.

Don’t think of gay stereotypes though, because Dosch is not what one might consider a typical gay comic (whatever that is). His influences included intellectual, yet brutal, comedians such as Bill Hicks, Patrice O’Neal and Bill Burr. Joe is a hard hitting, yet warm and charming kind of guy who offers hilarious material that will appeal to all audiences. Joe is also a regular at The Hollywood Improv. Whether the gig is at a gay pride festival in West Hollywood, or a rowdy Montana saloon, Joe delivers the goods.

Welcome back to South Lake Tahoe, Joe.

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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