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Ritch Shydner and Nika Williams perform at Tahoe’s Improv

Howie Nave
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
Ritch Shydner, seen with Howie Nave, will perform on Tahoe's South Shore this week at the Improv.
Courtesy Photo |

RITCH SHYDNER

This week’s headliner is pretty interesting. I’m talking about Ritch Shydner — and even before I met him I heard so many amazing stories about him. He will perform with Nika Williams this week at the Improv at Harveys on Tahoe’s South Shore.

I’d seen Ritch’s work on television and in the documentary, “I Am Comic.” I also heard that he’d been performing for well over 35 years, making appearances on David Letterman, Jay Leno and before that Johnny Carson. He did an HBO half-hour special, “One Night Stand,” played Al Bundy’s co-worker on “Married with Children” and made guest appearances on many other TV shows, such as “Designing Women” and “Roseanne.”

Ritch was able to translate his success on TV into a film career as well — he appeared in Steve Martin’s “Roxanne” and Eddie Murphy’s “Beverly Hills Cop II” before moving on to smaller roles in independent pictures.

He’s also been a writer for a ton of popular television shows including “Roseanne,” “The Jeff Foxworthy Show,” “Titus, “Becker” and more. He was co-executive producer and head writer for the HBO show “The Mind of the Married Man.” Ritch wrote material for Jeff Foxworthy’s Grammy nominated comedy albums, “Totally Committed” and “Big Fun.” He additionally wrote for singers Kenny Rogers and Pam Tillis.

Ritch Shydner can now add the title of author to his long and illustrious career. He’s written a pretty amazing book chronicling his life as a stand-up performer called, “I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America’s Top Comics.” It’s pretty good and covers a lot of territory, looking at the not-so-glamorous real life on the comedy circuit with contributions from some of America’s most famous comics who share their own stories. Comedians such as Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Bill Maher, Joan Rivers, Jeff Foxworthy and others offer up some pretty fascinating experiences, too.

Ritch actually left the business for some 13 years due to stress, alcohol and drugs, only to return even stronger than before. That alone is inspirational, and when you see his stand-up routine you’re seeing an exceptional comic who has taken all of life’s adversities and turned it into one very memorable evening. He’s probably one of the best comics I have worked with in my career.

NIKA WILLIAMS

She’s quite a talent, this Nika Williams. She made her a debut a year ago and immediately fell in love with this place — Tahoe, not the Improv.

Born and raised in Miami, Nika moved to Los Angeles and began doing stand-up and sketch comedy. She’s an acting agent’s dream client and very funny. With her infectious personality and long, skinny legs, Nika could easily have a successful modeling career; but instead she chose a career in comedy and subsequently acting as well.

Her stand-up comedy garnered Nika a spot in the “Shaq Comedy Contest,” Centric TV’s “Next Comedy All Star” and “According to Him and Her.” She’s also appeared on VH1’s “2 Broke Girls” and Nick Canon’s “Wild ‘N Out.” You can catch her impersonating celebrities like Rihanna and Halle Berry in her web series, “MothaFunnyQuickies.”

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.


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