Comedy at The Improv with Howie Nave: Jerry Rocha, Billy Bonnell perform this week at Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Comedy at The Improv with Howie Nave: Jerry Rocha, Billy Bonnell perform this week at Lake Tahoe

Howie Nave
Special to Lake Tahoe Action

Jerry Rocha, pictured with Howie Nave, performs stand-up at The Improv through Sunday, July 22.

Comedian Jerry Rocha hails from the Lone Star State and seems to find humor in just about everything. Rocha doesn't hold back with that humor, either, and can pack a punch when he wants to. He can be subtle with his delivery and surprise you when you least expect it. I wouldn't want to play poker with him — you don't know what cards this guy is holding, much like his comedy. His delivery just pulls you in.

Don't get me wrong: Rocha has great timing and material that always hits the mark. He was a semi-finalist on the seventh season of NBC's "Last Comic Standing," appeared on "Conan" and also on Comedy Central's "Stand-Up Revolution." His has a couple of albums, and they're hilarious. Rocha also stars in a documentary that was on the Travel Channel, and I watched him on Netflix (where his first one-hour special aired).

Also from Texas is Billy Bonnell, who now calls San Diego home. Bonnell spent the better portion of his 20s serving as an electrical technician in the U.S. Navy. After graduating from Cleburne High School in 2001, Bonnell took a year off to, as he likes to say, "find himself."

"I went to Nashville and tried to get into college there, but was unsuccessful due to being lazy as s@#$," he said. When Bonnell ran out of money and had to move back in with his mom, he decided (at age 19) it was time to see the world and joined the Navy. That's where he was first exposed to stand-up comedy via a fellow sailor's Mitch Hedberg album.

"I didn't realize people could be funny like that," Bonnell said of his first time listening to Hedberg. "It kind of blew my mind. The things he was saying; I didn't know what one-liners were."

It wasn't long after that Bonnell was motivated to make the rounds on the San Diego open mic circuit and quickly made a name for himself. He started entering various comedy competitions, which culminated in him winning 2010's San Diego's Funniest Person Contest. Since winning, Bonnell has gone on to perform at clubs and colleges in Arizona, Las Vegas, Texas and New York, and was also made a regular member of The La Jolla Comedy Store's Best of San Diego. I first saw him on Comedy Central's "Adam Devine's House Party," and now he's starting to emerge everywhere — including this week here in Tahoe.

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The Improv at Harveys takes place Wednesdays through Sundays at 9 p.m. Learn more at http://www.harveystahoe.com.