Comedy at The Improv with Howie Nave: Raj Sharma, Rawle D. Lewis and David Gee perform this week at Lake Tahoe
November 2, 2017
Since the presidential election let's just say Sharma's become more than just passionate about politics: He likes to challenge those who voted a certain way, and uses his comedy to deliver an insightful opinion that is both humorous and cutting at times. Interesting, too, that Sharma wound up a stand-up comedian.
He was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, in a traditional Hindu household. This served him well, as he took American comedians to India for the Weirdass Pajama Festival (where he has garnered an impressive following and found a great opportunity to mix and share cultures through humor).
Migrating to Los Angeles had to be a culture shock in its own right, but the move again served Sharma well: He observed the changes and turned the experience into part of his act. It didn't take long for Sharma to find a footing in L.A., and he began performing at The Improv, Laugh Factory and other top-notch venues around the country. His first stand-up comedy special, "Laugh Factory Presents Raj Sharma Live in Las Vegas," chronicles many of his daily observations from childhood stories.
His crowd work is impressive and he can easily segue from prepared material to improv with relative ease. Fifteen years into his career, Sharma has worked with some of the best comics in the business: Tom Rhodes, Carl LaBove, Pablo Francisco, Frank Caliendo, Brian Regan and more.
Sharma is an original member of The Gurus of Comedy and is also a classically trained actor. The comedian works with other performers to benefit charity foundations across the country.
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Rawle D. Lewis
Lewis was born on the island of Trinidad and had moved to Los Angeles by the time he was in high school, starting his comedy at the age of 17. I didn't know Lewis was a comedian when I saw him in his breakout role as Junior Bevil in "Cool Runnings" (he's also appeared in "K-PAX" and on television shows "Life in Pieces," "Malcolm & Eddie," "Where I Live" and "Angel of Death").
But let's go back to "Cool Runnings" for a minute. Did you know Lewis almost didn't get to audition for the role? "The producers wanted A-list actors to play the four leads," he told me. "I came in to this film at first to coach the players to have an authentic Jamaican accent." The casting director invited him to do a screen test and the rest is cinematic history.
Lewis still gets recognized for "Cool Runnings," as the movie has reached a cult-like status. "For some reason, English people recognize me a lot more than people from other European countries, probably because the movie is in the English language. In France the movie's called 'Rasta Rockett' so that's what I get called. Especially a lot of people from Senegal, they yell out at me, 'Rasta Rockett!' That is bizarre, I never expect that," Lewis said.
Hosting this week is David Gee, and it's safe to say he's a natural: Gee's hosted many charity events, like the annual golf tournament thrown by Entertainment Tonight, and has emceed the Bob Hope Desert Classic and the Friar's Roast of former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda.
Gee has a little bit of something for everybody, be it topical commentary or observational humor, and often times will make himself the butt of the joke. Gee is also dead-on with his sport announcer impressions, including one of Vin Scully, the famous (and now retired) sportscaster best known for his Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play.
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 http://www.harveystahoe.com.