Howie Nave: John Henton and David Gee to perform at the Improv at Harveys
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
I can’t think of a better way to spend Thanksgiving week that with longtime comedic friend, John Henton. We’ve shared holidays before, but this week is special because we’re like family entertaining other families who are on vacation up here. Henton is a blast to work with both on and off stage. He performs with David Gee at the Improv at Harveys this week.
On stage Henton engages his audience, including them in his act.
Henton makes it look so easy — he has the most entertaining stories. Many of his tales revolve around his years in television when he starred on “The Hughleys” on ABC and “Living Single” on FOX. I wish he would incorporate more of those behind-the scene stories into his act — it’s hilarious.
One of my favorites includes the time that Henton talked about this attractive woman in her mid-20s; after one of his performances she asked if she could take a picture with him. John was more than happy to oblige and she said, “You’re that guy who was on ‘Living Single,’ right? Oh my, my mother loved that show!”
Yeah, Henton played Overton “Obie” Wakefield Jones on “Living Single.” He also received an NAACP “Image Award” for his work on “The Hughleys” in addition to being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. This proved that Henton could cross boundaries with the roles he perfected. He’s appeared on many other television shows including ABC’s “The View,” “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and numerous others.
Henton is also one of only a handful of comedians who appeared on “The Tonight Show” both with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. On his first night with Johnny, the legendary late-night host was so impressed with his set that he called him over to the couch. When Carson asked him if he had an agent yet — and Henton said “no” — Carson said, “Well you will after tonight.” It was a performance that John says gave his career “a serious jump-start.” Soon after Henton appeared on “The Bob Hope Young Comedian’s Special” and eventually got his own special, “John Henton: Comedy With An Attitude” on Showtime.
In addition to theaters and comedy clubs, Henton has been in demand on cruise ships, working with some pretty good headliners, too, including Little Richard, Paul Rodriguez, The GAP Band, The Pointer Sisters, Kool & The Gang, Kenny Loggins and Kenny G. One of his favorite gigs was performing overseas in Kuwait for our troops.
Usually David Gee is up here at least three times a year, but lately he’s been booked so much it’s been tough to get him locked in up here. Last week he was performing south of the border in Mazatlán, having the time of his life under the Mexican sun; this week he’s in Tahoe enjoying the snow. Fortunately Gee adapts well in both climate and audience material.
Gee (who dropped the “k” for professional reasons) considers Tahoe almost his second home because he grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. When it comes to shows he is the master of setting up the mood; and he has hosted more comedy shows in Las Vegas alone than any other comic booked at Harrah’s Vegas Improv. He also hosts numerous charity events like the golf tournament for Entertainment Tonight.
Gee emceed the Bob Hope Desert Classic, was on the Dais with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a Roast of Special Effects Wizard Stan Winston, emceed at a Friar’s Roast of Tommy LaSorda, was the featured comedian at the Carl Reiner Celebrity Tennis and Golf Tournament, and was a semi-finalist on ABC’s “The Next Best Thing.”
Still, my all-time favorite performance of Gee was his appearance on Showtime’s comedian Rita Rudner’s special, “Rita Rudner And 3 Potential Ex-Husbands,” where Gee played one of her ex-husbands. Out of all the other comics Gee’s was by far the strongest set.
Gee’s stand-up act has something for everybody — be it topical commentary, making himself the butt of the joke or his incredible impressions that include beloved Hollywood actors and famous sports announcers. Gee is so dead-on with his sport announcer impressions it’s one of the reasons we aim to book him for the week of the annual American Century Golf Championship at Edgewood; golfing celebs love hearing him when they drop by after their round of golf is over. His “Vin” Scully (famous sportscaster best known as the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers) is perfect and always fun to watch.
It’s a good week to be up here for Thanksgiving folks.
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.