Improv comics make quite an impression |

Improv comics make quite an impression

Howie Nave, Lake Tahoe Action
Darryl Lenox, left, and Scott Henry, right, know it’s tough to ad-lib when Howie Nave has two hands on the microphone. The three appear through Sunday at Harveys Improv.

Scott Henry can prank people with his voices.Although this week’s headliner at Harveys Improv doesn’t use these voices in his stage act, Scott will use them when accenting a funny set-up. On radio he’ll bring out the voices that have different accents depending on what part of the country he deems should be heard first. I tend to hear the Midwest a lot probably because Scott’s originally from Wisconsin. His comedy was the ticket out but first Scott had to do open-mic nights, host events for free and get as much stage time as possible. You have to remember he was doing this while maintaining a job as a machinist (which his father also was). He didn’t keep that job for long once he started winning comedy competitions around the state. A year later he left Milwaukee for good. Scott still incorporates his family upbringing as part of his act as a reminder of where he came from and to this day keeps him grounded. It’s also a reminder of how fleeting this line of work can be. His body of work is impressive. He has appeared on Comedy Central, “The King Of Queens,” “Chelsea Lately” and “Sports Soup.” And remember those voices I referenced? They have been heard in more than 100 commercials he’s done for companies like Net-Flix, Michelob, Toyota, Argent, Ingram Micro and Wells Fargo. Scott has also performed for Fortune 500 companies such as 3M, Verizon, Lexus and many more. David Janollari, former president of the WB Network, said, “Scott is one of the top comedians working today.” Like many of us, Scott has performed for the troops all over the world, including including Afghanistan and Iraq with the USO and “Comics On Duty” tours. This is his first time back in some time, so you can count on new stories based on his on-the-road experiences and, who knows, maybe he’ll have a couple of new voices.

What a difference a year makes. Darryl Lenox was last here in late 2011 and then last year just exploded for him. Stagetime Magazine named his CD “Blind Ambition” “one of the Top 5 Comedy Albums of 2012,” joining Louis CK, Reggie Watts, Tig Notaro and the late Patrice O’Neal. Along with the album release on Stand Up! Records, last year also saw the release of his hourlong standup special of the same name on the Starz network. That marked the first time that an original feature comedy special has ever appeared on that network. Some background here: the title of his CD, “Blind Ambition,” is named in part because of his visual impairment in his left eye that lead to a very risky eye surgery. “The doctor that performed the surgery is my hero and was incredibly inspiring,” he said.Darryl has a cool, sullen approach to his comedy, almost a monotone where you cling to almost every word he is delivering. He’s very intelligent which carries through as part of his stage act. I’d have to stay that it’s his keen sense of observation and uncanny knack for energizing an audience that makes him a delight to watch. His humor is extremely insightful, incisive and pushes some topics close to the edge commenting on the absurdity of everyday life. I also like his Morgan Freeman impression. It is so good that when I played it for Dana Carvey in-studio, Dana said, “Well I guess I’ll be taking that impression out of my act.” Nice testimonial. Like so many comics Darryl hadn’t planned on a life of stand up but it just sort of happened. After a friend challenged him to stop talking and start living, he entered an open mic competition in Seattle and the rest is history. Admittedly his first set wasn’t exactly flawless, but it did plant a seed that would grow into lifelong obsession. He now tours the globe and entertains at world-renowned comedy festivals such as HBO’s Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. Some of his credits include A&E’s Evening at the Improv, Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, Jamie Foxx’s Laffa Pallooza, BET’s Comic View and Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival. He won first place in Seattle’s Comedy Competition and the Vancouver Fringe Festival’s Best New Play Award.

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