Don McMillan and Sandy Danto perform this week at Tahoe’s South Shore
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
If you’ve ever wondered about the mechanics of how comedy works, you’ll appreciate the comedy of Don McMillan. In all my years being in the comedy field I have never seen a more original act that shows via a power point presentation the scientific formula on the probability of what make us laugh. Don puts a lot of time into his presentation.
To know how Don’s mind works you have to know him before he became a comedian. Don graduated from Stanford University with a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1982 and has a BSEE from Lehigh University. He then went to work for AT&T Bell Laboratories where he was part of the team that designed the world’s first 32-bit microprocessor. He next moved to the Silicon Valley where he worked at VLSI Technology as a computer chip designer. During his six years at VLSI he designed more than 50 Standard and ASIC Designs, many of which are still out there today. Right now you’re probably wondering — why would someone with these kind of credentials chuck it all to be a stand-up comic? Well, after winning the 16th annual San Francisco International Stand-Up Comedy Competition in 1991, Don turned in his chips for a microphone and realigned his future career (and earnings) potential, deciding that mathematically comedy was a better bet. After winning the San Francisco Comedy Competition Don went on to be the $100,000 Grand Champion on “Star Search” in 1993. After that he was on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” CNN’s “The Larry King Show,” MTV’s “Half Hour Comedy Hour” and A&E’s “Evening at the Improv.”
It was Don’s series of successful commercials for Budweiser beer, however, that really made him a television regular. He played the Bud delivery guy who mans the “freshness hotline” and protects the world against “skunky” beer. Other commercials immediately followed including 7-Eleven, Franco-American Ravioli, Little Caesar’s Pizza, ServiStar Hardware and United Airlines spots.
Don has been on the big screen, too, appearing in “Don: Plain & Tall,” an independent film that was awarded “Best Feature: Comedy” at the Back East Film Festival and the Breckenridge Film Festival. Don was also in feature-length films like “Air Bud III-World Pup,” “Life Without Dick,” “Macon County Jail,” “Party Crashers” and “Fanatics.”
On the small screen Don has guest starred on the TV series “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Babylon 5,” “City Guys” and “Step by Step.” He was profiled in both “Entertainment Weekly” and “TV Guide.” You can see him online with his YouTube hits “Life After Death by PowerPoint” and “Live from My Cubicle.”
We have a newbie up here and his name is Sandy Danto. I don’t believe he’s ever been to Tahoe, so it’ll be nice getting his impression of our fine mountain community when he’s off stage. Sandy has an impressive background, taking summer classes at the famed Second City in Detroit while studying at Indiana University. After Second City he started working at National Lampoon as a character actor and also writes, directs and produces comedy shorts behind the camera. If you get a chance, check out his work on NationalLampoon.com and on their college television networks.
After moving to Hollywood, Sandy appeared on “Mad TV” and Comedy Central’s “Mash-up” as well as co-hosted the web-series “Fat Guy Nation.”
Sandy spends a lot of time on the road as he builds a name for himself. He toured recently with 90s-icon Pauly Shore; and when he gets to spend anytime back home in his LA apartment, he is fast at work writing jokes, scripts and brainstorming. One of those projects is his “Jet Ski Hot Tub Road Trip (on a Yacht).” You can “contribute” to Sandy’s latest endeavor on Kickstarter where he says, “I want to make my own comedy special in which I do a tour of shows on a yacht trailed by an 18 wheeler being driven across America.” As of now, 272 backers have pledged a total of $12,269.
I love this guy!
Howie Nave is the MC at the Improv at Harveys. The comedy club is inside Harveys Lake Tahoe. Shows begin at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and tickets are $25 plus fees, except Saturdays. Tickets are $30 on Saturdays. The Improv is dark on Mondays and Tuesdays. Must be 21 or older to attend. More information is available by calling 775-586-6266.