Budd Friedman and Mark Lonow’s world-famous Improv Comedy Club at Harrah’s Las Vegas showcases a different marquee of acts each week. Shelley Berman takes the stage tomorrow through Sunday, with supporting acts Greg Otto and Jeff Capri.
Improv shows are at 8:30pm and 10:30pm every Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets are $29.05 (plus applicable taxes) or $44.95 (plus applicable taxes) for VIP tickets that include special seating and an Improv t-shirt. Special two-for-one tickets are also available for locals during the 10:30pm show. Tickets are available at Harrah’s Box Office (702-369-5223) and online at www.harrahs.com.
Shelley Berman began studying acting shortly after he was honorably discharged from the Navy. He enrolled as a drama student at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and joined the Woodstock Players, a stock theater company in Woodstock, Illinois, upon graduation. It was here that Berman had the opportunity to really develop and polish his acting skills, with the support and encouragement of fellow players Geraldine Page, Betsy Palme and Tom Bosley.
Leaving Woodstock in 1949, Berman made his way to New York, where he found work as a sketch writer for The Tonight Show with Steve Allen, and was doing well, when he received an invitation to join an improvisational troupe known as the Compass Players, which took him back home to Chicago. With Compass (which later evolved into Second City), Berman worked with soon-to-be famous performers Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Severn Darden, and Barbara Harris, among others.
While performing improvised sketches with the Compass Players, Berman began developing solo pieces, employing an imaginary telephone to take the place of an onstage partner. While watching Mort Sahl perform at Mister Kelly’s in Chicago in 1957, Berman realized he didn’t necessarily have to tell traditional jokes as other comedians of the day did in order to work in nightclubs, and went on to audition at the club performing his one-man monologues and telephone routines, with great success. Those first dates at Mister Kelly’s led to other nightclub engagements around the country, appearances on national television, and a recording contract with Verve Records. Inside Shelley Berman, released in early 1959, became the first comedy album to be awarded a gold record, and the first non-musical recording to win a Grammy Award. Berman would eventually record six albums for Verve, including Outside Shelley Berman and The Edge of Shelley Berman, both of which also went gold. Berman would go on to appear on numerous TV specials and all of the major variety shows, including those hosted by Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Dinah Shore, Perry Como, Andy Williams and Dean Martin.
Berman’s great success as a comedian enabled him to continue with his first love – acting. He starred on Broadway in A Family Affair and would continue to do stage work in productions of The Odd Couple, Damn Yankees, Fiddler on the Roof, I’m not Rappaport, Where’s Charley? and Guys and Dolls, among many others.
Comedic and dramatic acting roles on television began to come his way, including memorable appearances on episodes of The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Bewitched, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, CHiPs, Night Court, MacGuyver, L.A. Law, Friends, The King of Queens, Grey’s Anatomy and Boston Legal, where Berman made numerous recurring guest star appearances as the hilariously semi-senile Judge Robert Sanders. Since 2002, Berman has appeared as Nat David (Larry David’s father) on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, a role for which he received a 2008 Emmy Award nomination. With dialogue entirely improvised by its cast, Curb Your Enthusiasm has given Berman the opportunity to return to his improv roots, introduced him to a new generation of TV viewers, and brought him acclaim from critics and fans alike.
Berman’s film credits include The Best Man, American Style, Every Home Should Have One, Teen Witch, The Last Producer, Meet the Fockers, The Aristocrats, The Holiday and You Don’t Mess with Zohan.
Berman continues to do film and television work, and makes personal appearances across the country year-round. He has authored three books, two plays, several TV pilot scripts, and numerous poems. For over twenty years, Berman taught humor writing in the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, where he is now a Lecturer Emeritus. Berman spends his free time volunteering for various charitable organizations, and indulging in his favorite hobby, knife collecting.
UPCOMING IMPROV ACTS:
- December 28- January 1: Dennis Blair, with supporting acts Marc Price and Julie McCullough
- January 4-9: Don McMillan, with supporting acts Larry Brown and LA Hardy
- January 11-16: Eddie Ifft, with supporting acts Kat Simmons and Kenny Kane
- January 18-23: Dat Phan, with supporting acts Jim McCue and Mike Uryga
- January 25-30: Vince Morris, with supporting acts Gene Pompa and Dave Krause