Comedy at The Improv with Howie Nave: Dat Phan and Lydia Popovich perform this week at Lake Tahoe |

Comedy at The Improv with Howie Nave: Dat Phan and Lydia Popovich perform this week at Lake Tahoe

Howie Nave
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
Dat Phan, pictured with Howie Nave, returns to The Improv at Harveys this week.
Courtesy Photo |

Dat Phan

Phan is best known for winning the first season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” which opened doors and led him to appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” His bookings took off immediately and he was soon headlining comedy clubs, theaters and special events all over the country. Before “Last Comic Standing” came along, Phan worked for Budd Friedman’s Improv in Hollywood, answering phones and taking reservations just to get much-needed stage time and perfect his craft.

I didn’t know until recently that Phan is a huge sci-fi fan, but when he was on my podcast last year with fellow geek Chase Durousseau we probably tuned out a lot of female listeners (although that could be deemed as “sexist,” as we’re sure there are plenty of female sci-fi fans out there). What a coincidence (or is it?) that he has a role in the new King Kong movie, “Kong: Skull Island,” which opens next week. Phan’s been in other movies as well, including “Sake-Bomb,” “Hungover Games,” “108 Stitches” and his first movie, “Cellular,” with Kim Basinger and Jason Statham.

The comedian has used his celebrity status to help others: One of his goals is to rectify the under-representation of Asian Americans in the theater arts. He notes, “We are more than just martial artists!”

Born in Saigon and raised in San Diego, Phan has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institute as one of the 10 most influential Vietnamese Americans. He has a DVD, “Dat Phan: Live,” available on Amazon and an album, “You Touch, You Buy,” on iTunes. Phan has appeared on a number of television shows, including “Bones,” “Scorpion,” “The Last Ship,” “Startup,” “Spring Break ‘83” and “NAMCAR Night Race.”

Don’t forget to check Phan out in “Kong: Skull Island,” which opens March 10!

Lydia Popovich

Comedian Lydia Popovich makes her Tahoe debut this week — she doesn’t just tell jokes, but rather paints vivid pictures through storytelling, which makes her a unique voice to be reckoned with. One of my favorite alternative Bay Area publications, SF Weekly, named her the No. 1 Artist to Watch in 2016, describing her humor as “hilarious and brutally honest.” The publication states, “Her comedy does more than make us laugh; it also makes us think.”

Popovich is a frequent performer at Rooster T Feathers Comedy Club in Sunnyvale. She’s also been a regular artist at other popular comedy clubs, including the Punch Line San Francisco, Punch Line Sacramento and Cobb’s Comedy Club. Popovich is also very popular on comedy podcasts including Feral Audio’s “Put Your Hands Together” and Nerdist’s “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction.”

The comedian performs not just here in the U.S., but also tours internationally — she’s performed as far away as Berlin and London. Along the way, Popovich opened for some cool acts including Paul Rodriguez, Aisha Tyler, Moshe Kasher, Rob Delaney, Maria Bamford and Jimmy Pardo.

Of all her credits, my personal favorite is when Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters once touched her arm and said, “Hey, you’re pretty funny!” That sealed it right there, folks.

The Improv at Harveys takes place Wednesdays through Sundays at 9 p.m. Learn more at

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