Comedy at The Improv with Howie Nave: Darren Carter, Joe Praino perform this week at Lake Tahoe |

Comedy at The Improv with Howie Nave: Darren Carter, Joe Praino perform this week at Lake Tahoe

Darren Carter, pictured with Howie Nave, performs at The Improv this week.
Courtesy Photo |

Darren Carter

It’s the return of Darren Carter the party starter. He’s long overdue, ready to take the stage, talented and easily could have been an author or playwright given the stories he has accumulated over the decades.

It took me by surprise when I was watching “Be Cool” (starring John Travolta) and recognized Darren Carter’s voice. Another surprise is the comedian’s background: His father was a die-hard biker named Elvin who was referenced by the legendary Hunter S. Thompson in his book “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.”

Carter was raised by a Southern Baptist deacon’s family and relocated to San Francisco, which was coming into its own as a mecca for stand-up comedy. Carter fit right in and became adept at doing incredible impressions, including one of hip-hop and reggae artist Snoop Dogg that is hilarious. In fact, after being spotted by Snoop for his dead-on impersonations, Carter was invited to perform multiple times at the rapper’s annual family reunions.

The comedian’s other credits include appearances on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” BET’s “ComicView” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Even with all these credits and doing comedy for over 25 years, Carter still has this bewildered, “What am I doing here?” look to his face. I think that’s what makes him so endearing to watch on stage.

Carter is a responsible adult with a wife and son, and tries to find balance between his family and a career that takes him on the road for months at a time.

Joe Praino

This guy has a hilarious biography — take his opening line: “I was born in New York City and grew up just north of there in the small hamlet of Katonah, New York. My childhood home was just down the street from where Martha Stewart lives, but she never came over and brought me cookies or brownies or pie. Probably because she is a selfish [b!@$*] or maybe she just didn’t know how close I lived and how much I love baked goods.”

Praino’s stand-up didn’t take shape until he started attending college in Pennsylvania and making trips to New York City once a week to perform at the Comic Strip Live. After graduating in 2001, Praino moved to New York, where, as he says, “I split my time between drinking, working and performing (although to be honest I was usually drinking while working and performing too).”

While in New York, the comedian was a featured standout at the Boston Comedy Festival, the New York Surf Film Festival and the Lighthouse International Film Festival. He also has to his credit High Times magazine and College Sports Television, as well as clubs and colleges.

Praino made the move to Los Angeles in 2010, following his dream in both comedy and branching out into more film projects.

“I’d like to chase my Hollywood dream: landing the role of Thomas Magnum in the feature film update of the hit ‘80s TV show ‘Magnum, P.I.’ If you are a producer involved in bringing Magnum to the big screen please contact me a few weeks before auditions begin so that I have sufficient time to get my mustache to full Selleck,” concludes his bio.

I don’t know if he got the call to audition — I’ll find out this week.

The Improv at Harveys takes place Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays at 9 p.m. Two shows are held on Saturdays at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Learn more at

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