Just for Laughs

Rob Schneider performs at MontBleu Resort Casino on March 10.

What is it that makes people laugh until they cry? It might be a line in a movie, a comedian telling a funny story, a friend who has mastered joke telling or it could be a random thing you hear that makes no sense but tickles the funny bone. There are many things that provoke chuckles, giggles and snorts to the point of uncontrollable hysterics.

Check the Entertainment Calendar in each issue for comedy shows

Comedy is an art and making people laugh is a honed skill. Some humor is clean and without malice, while other comedians can be downright brutal and nasty.

“People want to laugh. They need to get away from the daily life and drudgery of work and the world can be a tough place to be.”
–Wayne Wright

This story starts at the Laugh Factory at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino where a recent show reminded me just how fun a comedy show can be. Host Oscar Ovies opened the show with some pretty hilarious, self-deprecating humor. Headliner Rondell Sheridan cracked up with audience with his show, If You’re Over 40 And You Know It, Clap Your Hands! Even the 20 year olds in the audience were laughing at his story-telling mastery.

“While the nature of comedy is shifting and there is a resurgence of comedy shows in the area there are a lot more comedians that are being more sensitive to certain social issues. Comedy is one of the last areas where people have the ability of free speech,” says Wayne Wright, founder of Tahoe Comedy North and Reno Tahoe Comedy. He has been producing comedy shows in the area for the last 11 years.

Laugh Factory performance at Silver Legacy Casino Resort with host Oscar Ovies.

“We got our start when meeting Bill Wood, the general manager of the Crystal Bay Casino. He gave us the opportunity and we stated booking shows there,” says Wright, who also books comedians for venues in Reno and Carson City, Nev.

Styles of comedy and comedians vary. Some comedians are political while others take a more personal route poking fun at their lives and their foibles. Some comics walk the razor’s edge with topics that can push and offend audiences. Styles range from stand-up to improv where cast members often play off each, engaging the audience to support them with prompts and themes to improvise scenes.

Reno Tahoe Comedy recently introduced First Fridays with Comedy Collective, a monthly improv show held on the first Friday of the month at Pioneer Underground in Reno.

“It is a high-energy format and the response has been amazing,” says Wright.

Tracy Smith performs at the Pioneer Underground on March 16 and 17.

“The Comedy Collective are the most beloved comics from Reno in the stand-up and improv world. We are taking short-form improv to a whole new level, playing smarter, faster and with a level of comedic integrity that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people,” says Emily Skyle, a member of the Comedy Collective.

“When I am doing improv or stand-up, I’ve often been the token female on stage. Most comics are provocative and try to get a conversation going. Lines are being crossed and being pushed and comedy clubs are one of the last places you can do this,” adds Skyle.

The comedy scene in Reno and Tahoe is bursting with opportunities to laugh and as the adage goes laughter is the best medicine.

“People want to laugh. They need to get away from the daily life and drudgery of work and the world can be a tough place to be. People are being hammered by all of the world’s problems and news. People want to enjoy themselves,” says Wright.

For more information, visit silverlegacyreno.comor renotahoecomedy.com.