‘Funniest comic in the world’ spends a week at Tahoe Improv | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Funniest comic in the world’ spends a week at Tahoe Improv

Howie Nave

Some photos write their own captions. Dennis Blair, left, and Howie Nave along with Dan Gabriel perform through Sunday at the Improv at Harveys.

Dennis Blair is back at the Improv through Sunday and not a moment too soon. He’s not political, doesn’t seem to interested in politics and is a safe bet for anybody making their debut inside a comedy club. Oh yeah, he’s very funny and quite versatile.

I almost forgot how many showbiz impersonations Dennis does. When he launches into his many voices, you forget sometimes what the original voice sounds like. Dennis has worked with some of the greats including Rodney Dangerfield and being George Carlin’s exclusive opening act for two decades. His act incorporates music, impressions, stand-up with topical observations thrown in. His talent has been rewarded by being on so many television shows. Some of those shows “The Tonight Show,” HBO and served as co-host on the “Stephanie Miller Radio Show” with comedic legend Elayne Boosler.

He’s also opened for some pretty big names in the business ranging from musical artists the Beach Boys, Tom Jones and Gloria Estefan to comedic legends such as Joan Rivers, Jackie Mason and the aforementioned Dangerfield and Carlin. As he did with so many young comedians, Dangerfield gave Dennis his start taking him in as his protege, touring the United States and Canada for over three years. Dennis paid the favor back by co-writing the movie “Easy Money,” written specifically with Dangerfield in mind. Rodney then returned the favor (it’s like they’re playing tennis volleying the ball back and forth) by having Dennis making cameo appearances in some of his other movies. On the small screen Dennis co-wrote and was a featured actor in two Dangerfield specials on ABC and was creative consultant for the album “Rappin’ Rodney.” The title song (which Dennis also co-wrote) was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Dennis has a very solid music background writing and performing the song “Ordinary Man” which appears on the “Easy Money” soundtrack album and also won the “Charlie” (Chaplin) Award for Best Comedian in New York. Not bad, huh?

Gossip columnist Liz Smith of the New York Daily News once wrote, “This guy will soon be a household face and name.” Randolph Hogan of The New York Times echoed similar sentiments saying, “It wouldn’t be fair to call him an impressionist, because he’s more than that. He’s a parodist and a satirist and a singer … Well, there’s no word to describe him.” But it’s his fellow comedians who offer him the most praise. Elayne Boosler called Dennis “The funniest man in the world” and Joan Rivers said, “Dennis should be writing and starring in movies. He’s got a great, crooked sense of humor. There’s a lot of Woody Allen in Dennis.” And if that wasn’t enough Rodney Dangerfield said, “He has the fastest comedy mind of anyone I ever met. If life is fair, he should make it big.” And then there’s George Carlin who said of Dennis, “He’s the only person who can make me have a belly-laugh.” Wow.

The last time Dennis was here, he did some great, dead-on parodies and even wrote a song chronicling his experience being down at the radio station so early in the morning. He’s almost like the Paul McCartney of the comedy world: every time he speaks he’s turning his chat into a new, potential bit.

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Dan Gabriel finally gets his shot this week at the Improv.

I knew Dan way back when he first onto the San Francisco comedy scene. I guess we can thank his mom for that because get this: she used to take Dan to comedy shows when he was still in grade school.

Dan grew up listening to Steve Martin albums on his travel case record player while his classmates were trading baseball and Garbage Pail Kids cards. His latter years in education took a back seat to his fledging comedy career. In college he stepped up on stage for the first time and was instantly hooked. Ignoring his studies, Dan spent his nights at any open mic night or comedy event he could find.

Dan was lucky to have graduated from college even with comedy occupying much of his study time. Dan was soon opening for his comedic heroes that included Dave Chappelle, Mitch Hedberg and George Lopez. Since then Dan has worked his way from opening act to nationally touring headliner. Now considered a veteran jokesmith, Dan has appeared on CBS’ “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Showtime, ” “Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, “Star Search, ” and NBC’s “Late Friday” to name a few. He was an award winning writer for “Thugs on Film” on BBC America and the Winner of the L.A. Take Out Comedy Competition. Take Out opened the doors for Dan to co-develop and host the hit first season of Asia Street Comedy on AZN TV.

He also is a member of the trio “Marijuana-Logues,” which has performed twice at North Shore.

Welcome to Lake Tahoe Dan, and more importantly, I’m glad you’ve finally arrived.