Radio voice ads Zany body at the Improv |

Radio voice ads Zany body at the Improv

Howie Nave

Larry "Bubbles" Brown, Howie Nave and Bob Zany, an Improv trio for the ages.

We usually like to have Bob Zany up here during the start of the summer solstice but since summer has been pushed out for another month and Bob really wanted to come up here, we decided on the first week of June instead. He will be the headlining comedian through Sunday June 5 at the Improv at Harveys Resort and Casino.

He’s perfect being in a casino environment because his show reminds you of a bygone era. Like The Rat Pack of yesteryear Bob Zany is that bridge from those classic performances to the edgy stuff of today. In fact, Zany is very topical which he proves week after week when delivers “The Zany Report” (heard exclusively on my little radio show every Tuesday morning). As the proprietor of “The Zany Report” (broadcast on over 160 radio channels coast to coast) Bob is able to make sense of current issues and then deliver them in a fashion that is understandable through biting humor. But that’s just one aspect of Zany. The audio portion is always funny but then when you get an opportunity to see him on stage the experience is (dare I say) priceless.

Zany has a lifetime of experience not just as a comic but also as a writer and a producer putting on shows that have introduced people to new, up and comers. Some of the acts that have found their way on his productions have included Garry Shandling, Yakov Smirnoff, Robert Wuhl, Kevin Nealon and Nia Peeples. Zany was approached after one show by Frazer Smith, the host of the top-rated radio show on KLOS-LA. After a short time doing guest spots on Frazer’s show Zany was hired by the station for his own show on Saturday mornings.

Zany began at the not-so-tender age of 15 when the native Southern Californian appeared on “The Gong Show.” Yes, that show with host by Chuck Barris. Halfway through his standup routine (which he read from a piece of paper) he was pulled off the stage by a man dressed like a nun wielding a net. Eleven years later Zany would reappear to make a triumphant return to “The Gong Show” but this time as a celebrity judge and not a contestant. From that point, Zany would make well over a hundred national television appearances. Some of those shows include the Showtime documentary, “I am Comic” and on the big screen in the Matt Damon movie, “The Informant!” But Zany has taken that one step further, having just completed his own documentary called “Close But No Cigar.” It’s an autographical look chronicling the life of Bob Zany with numerous interviews from those Bob met over the years, some who have become major players in the comedy business. It’s very sobering seeing one individual working a sweet gig as one of the top writers for “Saturday Night Live” and than cut away seeing Bob leaving a one-nighter he just performed at somewhere in the Midwest. It’s the brutal reality of comedy and Zany captures the ups and downs along the way.

In addition to his first documentary, Zany has several CDs out including “Hi Home, I’m Honey” on Laff Records, “Bob Zany B to Z, Bay-bee!” and “Son of Bingle, His Greatest Hits, Bay-bee!” He also has a published diet scrapbook, “Laugh at Fat, Bay-bee!” (which chronicles his 175-pound weight loss) and numerous roles in feature films including a starring role opposite Linda Blair in “Up Your Alley” and the highlight of his career to date, being hired by his idol, Steve Martin, to appear on George Burns’ Comedy Week. Zany continues to work in television and film but one of his best experiences was that on being up here on the day the Ponderosa Ranch closed. To this day every time I see Zany I am reminded of Little Joe. He is married to comedienne-actress Erin O’Connor and they live in Los Angeles with their three dogs and three cats.

Bubbles is what we call in the business a comic’s comic, which means other comics laugh at his stuff even.

Recommended Stories For You

Why the name, “Bubbles?” It’s a long story but the short version was back in the last century he was sharing a hot tub with comedienne Paula Poundstone and she commented that he was like bubbles and well, it sort of stuck and we’ve been calling him Bubbles for short ever since.

He is so well liked in the comedy world that big name acts such as Dana Carvey and Robin Williams will use him as their opener when doing theaters and road gigs. Bubbles may seem a little neurotic when you first encounter him (he started “Radiation Wednesdays” when he had to get treatment for one of his ailments as a joke because he was miserable on a Wednesday) but he is always funny. And yes, at times he may appear depressing (he is) but it’s those traits that have served Bubbles well.

When I first started out we were booked together in Santa Rosa and I couldn’t believe how down on himself he was. I think that’s why the audience was laughing so hard, probably thinking their lot on life must be pretty good when compared to this guy. One of the best weeks we ever had was the time he was booked with headliner Zany and this marks the second time the two have worked together.

When good things happen to Bubbles he never seems to relish it but rather starts counting down when things will get worse again.

I booked him up here for a special benefit show and he did great. This was in the South Shore Room over at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. The following month he had a triumphant return on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” You think Larry would be ecstatic with the thread of success but he’s convinced it’s a fluke if things are working out for him. It’s kind of like your favorite singer-songwriter who always writes the most gut-wrenching songs about relationships. When the songwriter is happy and content his or her music usually sucks but when they’re depressed the good stuff flows out. Such is the same with Bubbles. The more miserable he is the harder we laugh at his exploits. The San Francisco-based comic has the art of the deadpan, self-deprecating sense of humor down to an science.

When not bumming himself out (and dragging us down with him), he acts in movies (and not always as depressing characters). That was Larry you saw in the true-life story, “The Kite Runner,” and also in filmmaker Roger Nygard’s movie “Suckers.” He started out though doing what he loves best and that would be standup.

He was part of the famous San Francisco comedy scene in the early 1980s and quickly rose through the ranks as one of that city’s most popular comics. He began appearing on numerous TV shows such as “Evening at the Improv,” “Make Me Laugh” and others and made his first appearance in 1987 on “Late Night with David Letterman.” His appearance last summer was his second in 21 years setting the record for longest time in between first and second appearances.