Heckle if you dare – there’s a Starr onstage | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heckle if you dare – there’s a Starr onstage

Howie Nave, Special to Lake Tahoe Action

Howie Nave auditions for the new television program, "Dancing with Starr." Joe Starr performs at The Improv through Sunday, April 19.

The headliner this week at The Improv is a genuine Starr.

Joe Starr, whose grandfather was a vaudeville performer, has worked with some pretty impressive acts over the years including opening for Jay Leno, Father Guido Sarducci, Soupy Sales and Robert Klein. He’s a big hit at comedy festivals, and has done his fair share of criss-crossing the country, much like his grandfather did. In New York City, he is a regular at the Underground Comedy Festival and also the clubs that dot Manhattan.

The last time he was here, I had him on television and asked him what it was like having a grandfather as an entertainer.

“Well, Howie,” he said, “great talent seems to skip every other generation, so your dad must have been hilarious.”

His grandfather must have made a lasting impression.

“My influence pretty much ends when television went to color,” he said. “I’m proud of that, because in a world of fads and flavors of the month, fans tell me I remind them a bit of Lou Costello or Jack Benny or Jackie Gleason.”

Recommended Stories For You

A native of New York, Starr doesn’t mind a tough crowd.

“People try to heckle me every now and then, but I’m amplified, well lit and at home on stage,” he said. “Nothing throws me when I’m working.”

Just fair warning.

Starr enjoys the art of combining storytelling with jokes, and tops that off with physical humor, all rolled up into one.

In addition to stints here in this country on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” he has made a name for himself overseas performing at the “Comedy Factory” on Dutch television’s popular Nederland 1 channel. He appeared in the Oliver Stone-directed “World Trade Center,” ESPN’s award- winning mini-series, “The Bronx is Burning,” and most recently National Lampoon’s “Dirty Movie.”

Starr has this instant amiability factor about him that can be infectious. Then again he can just be setting you up.