“A lot of standup comedians want the next thing. They want to become actors or have sitcoms. I’m just the opposite. I pretty much started with the sitcom.”
That’s Marc Price, appearing this weekend at the Improv at Harveys Lake Tahoe. Price is still known to a generation as Skippy Handelman, buddy to Michael J. Fox’s Alex P. Keaton on TV’s “Family Ties,” a role he played from 1982 to 1989. Since then, he’s been doing standup and said he feels most comfortable in the comedy-club milieu.
“I don’t even refer to the sitcom in my comedy,” Price said. “There are young audiences for the most part in the clubs and they don’t know the show. (But) occasionally I team up with Todd Bridges of ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ and those shows do well.”
Price comes about his comedic talent naturally. His father was comedian Al Birnie, not a name remembered by many now but definitely someone from whom a son can learn a lot.
“Dad had a lot of firsts,” Price said. “He was one of the first impersonators and was especially known for his Fred Allen. He toured with Mickey Rooney, was on television with Ed Sullivan when the show was called ‘Toast of the Town,’ and had his own series with the ‘54th Street Revue’ in which the dance team was Fosse and Niles, the Fosse part of course being Bob.
“Dad introduced me to the best, people like Milton Berle and George Burns, and the young guys of the time, like Robert Klein and David Steinberg. He pointed me in the right direction from the start.”
Price is a comedian who has clearly found his niche, appearing at the clubs regularly, having a business relationship producing shows with Improv founder and original proprietor Budd Friedman, and building his own following.
“There are lots of gigs out there,” Price said. “After all, everybody is a comedian. Talk about a growth industry! I can honestly say that there is more amazing talent out there than there has ever been. I can also honestly say it doesn’t get any better than the Tahoe gig.” (Friday and Sunday at 9 p.m.; Saturday at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; $25, $30, harveystahoe.com)
There’s not a lot of snow at Tahoe but most of the events of Snowfest, North Tahoe’s celebration of winter, are still on schedule, including the two parades, one at at 11:30 a.m Saturday in Tahoe City and the other March 8, at King’s Beach, also at 11:30 a.m. ( tahoesnowfestival.com)