Lake Tahoe comedy scene with Howie Nave: Nick Griffin at The Improv, Dave Mencarelli at Carson Nugget
October 11, 2018
I've known comedian Nick Griffin some 20 years, and I often use him as an example to show that you can do very well in this line of work if you diversify your talent and get as much stage time as possible.
That's why Nick has done well: he's not just a stand up, but also a top-notch writer, one who writes horror scripts like no other. Yes, he's been doing stand up a long time.
He used to be based out of Los Angeles (and did very well) but he really hit his stride when he relocated to New York. I don't know why, but Nick to me has always been more suited being back east. I think it's his temperament. Comedians I've interviewed (most recently Dave Attell) say Nick was made for the Big Apple and was instantly embraced by the very tight-knit comedy community out there.
What a difference considering his Midwest upbringing where Nick started performing at the age of 19 out in Kansas City. You'd be surprised to find out how many edgy and hilarious comics hail from that part of the country.
Nick's a regular at The Comedy Cellar, Stand Up NY and the Gotham Comedy Club, to name a few, and also spends a lot of time out on the road. Just having him back is a testament to how much he travels.
Nick Griffin has a lot of comedy credentials but when I asked him if it's helped him a lot, he'll jokingly say "not a whole lot" in part because there are so many outlets for broadcasting that it's tough to grab everybody's attention.
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But his list is very impressive including 13 appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, scores of specials on Comedy Central, Conan, Stephen Colbert and going way back when he was heard on the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom Show. He also has scores of CDs, audiophiles and DVDs out as well.
There are many things that come to mind when watching a Nick Griffin comedy show. Insightful, observational and a touch of brilliance first come to mind. I don't know why but you never tire of watching his act.
I'm a bit biased because there's only a handful of comics who share my passion for movies (horror, sci-fi and cult being favorite discussions). He's written a plethora of scripts, treatments and full blown screenplays with his best stuff being the ones that are kind of dark and not everyday stories.
Sometimes Nick will text me late at night asking how many bagels I gave a certain movie (I rate movies by bagels with five being the best) and why I liked or disliked it. Some of those texts are pretty funny now that I think of it.
I don't want to say things have been looking up for Griffin, because then he would question what went wrong and that wouldn't be good. I just tell him he's been adequate so he doesn't have to decide which direction to go. Nick said he really enjoys performing and spending some time up here in Tahoe, in part because he said he feels safe up here which allows him to concentrate more on his writing and less on having to worry about making bad decisions.
"Things have been OK lately, which is huge for me because I always expect the worst," Nick admitted.
With those kind of not-so-high expectations, the rest of us are going to be in for a real treat … but don't let Nick know (why jinx it?).
The Improv at Harveys takes place Wednesdays through Sundays at 9 p.m. Learn more at http://www.harveystahoe.com.
Dave Mencarelli at the Carson Nugget
It's not often I get to talk about a comedian who's also a local and who's very funny, too. OK, he's also a long time friend.
I have to look up his name, oh wait, I found it: Dave Mencarelli. I first met Dave when I was running the Improv in Reno and would have him fill in for me on occasion, especially when we came up here to Tahoe. He says I helped him get his career started, but I just got him some gigs.
I did overhear him once while talking to another comedian say I had given him some valuable stage time, but I'm sure he'd do the same for me. OK, maybe not, but he is still a funny guy.
Like myself, he also has a radio show but that's where the similarities kinda end. He loves Rick Springfield. I think it was one of the first rock concerts he went to. I didn't wanna ask if he had posters of Rick in his room … but I'm gonna say, "yes, he did."
Dave's worked all over and is pretty much the house emcee for The Laugh Factory in Reno. He headlines though at the Carson Comedy Club inside the Carson Nugget on Oct. 12-13.
Shows start at 8 p.m. Visit ccnugget.com for more information on the Carson Comedy Club.