Dat Phan bigger than ever with new commercial, returns to Tahoe’s Improv | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Dat Phan bigger than ever with new commercial, returns to Tahoe’s Improv

Howie Nave
Sure Dat Phan can party with giant pandas and star on a national television commercial, but look who gets the fancier breakfast beverage on "Howie's Morning Rush" radio show.
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Have you seen Dat Phan’s new television commercial? It’s funny.

“I’m so excited, Howie,” he wrote in a text. “I just finished shooting a commercial for DirecTV and I think it’s going to come out really good! Please don’t tell anybody until it airs, OK?”

He was so excited about it and I can’t blame him.

If you haven’t seen it it’s called “The Whale.” Dat plays an Asian gambler who spends lavishly on bling, swimsuit-clad admirers and a giant panda (as well as cable television).

Dat Phan is the headline funnyman through Sunday at Harvey’s Improv. Remember, there are twice the laughs on Saturday, with shows at 8 and 10 p.m. The shows the rest of the week are at 9 p.m.

Dat won the first season of the “Last Comic Standing” reality television series in 2003. And this despite having less experience than his competitors. Since that first season, Dat’s made numerous television appearances including “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Family Guy” voiceover and “The Tyra Banks Show.”

Like many comics with immigrant parents, Dat Phan uses his parents’ accent (mainly his mom) as a source of humor. It is very effective. But he said his dream would be to do a role without an accent, and he’s already heading in that direction just from the eight years I’ve grown to know him. I noticed the transition when listening to his very first CD to his new one. It’s called “Growth” which is a good thing for a comedian. (Except in my case. Please don’t ask.)

Dat’s been on the big screen, too. He had a small but funny role in the movie “Cellular.” His next project, “Yellow Fever,” should have a release date soon. I love introducing him on stage because it wasn’t that long ago that Dat was literally living in the backseat of his car. I sometimes ponder had he not won or even was a part of “Last Comic Standing” how long would it have taken before he was able to grab a stronghold in this business?

Dat gives back a lot, especially to those who now look up to him in the Asian-American community. He’s been a mentoring figure to young Asian comics just starting out and also to those not even in the entertainment business. I think that’s why he’s been rewarded by the Smithsonian Institute when he was mentioned for their Top 10 Most Influential Vietnamese-American Individuals.

He offers up some poignant insights into his cultural background poking fun of the ridiculous stereotypes and shares that experience of being a regular American guy within a Vietnamese heritage.

I think Dat is the reason that fan pages might have been created on Facebook. When his Friend page tapped out at 5,000, he started another ‘Friend’ page and that maxed out. With a fan page it’s unlimited so it’ll eventually surpass Lady Gaga before he knows it.

This will be comedian Quinn Dahle’s very first time up here.

I know he’s already worth checking out because other comics have been telling me good things about him, most recently Ron Morey who was here last week with Rocky LaPorte.

Quinn is originally from Minnesota so I know he’s funny even though he technically graduated high school in Colorado. From there he headed south to Arizona where he went to college. It was there he went out on stage for the very first time (while attending Arizona State University) which I’m assuming was Laff’s Comedy Cafe in Tucson.

Morey said I’ll really enjoy Dahle’s style as it’s smart, clean and witty. I think Ron was really describing himself.

Dahle has worked with an impressive list of comics including Robin Williams, Drew Carey, Dana Carvey, Norm MacDonald, Jon Lovitz, Bill Maher, Frank Caliendo, David Alan Grier, John Witherspoon, Tommy Chong, John Pinette, and Harland Williams.

“People told me I should do standup since I was a kid,” he said.

Makes sense considering he comes from a show business family. Quinn Dahle Sr. played in the band Copperhead and had an album out in the early 1970s.

Ron also told me that Quinn is the kind of guy rare in this business who actually helps out other comics getting them gigs or recommending them to other clubs and booking agents. I like this guy already.

In addition to helping out other comics he’ll also save their lives on occasion. Say what?

“I was opening for a fat guy at a casino in Nevada early in my career,” he said. “He was about 30 minutes into his act when he started choking on some rock salt from a shot of tequila. The room was packed with about 500 people and they thought it was a joke at first. Then he came backstage pointing to his throat.

“No one else knew the Heimlich maneuver so I gave it a try. I could barely get my arms around him because he was so overweight but it did come up eventually. He told me I saved his life but I just did what any hero would do.”

I’m taking Quinn with me when I go to the buffet.


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