On April 15, 2003, Dan was a contestant in the Open Mic Competition at the DC Improv, one day after attending Michael Jordan's last home game. The winner of the competition would be given the opportunity to serve as the opener and host for the headliner of his or her choice at the Improv.
The competition took place before a packed house of 300 plus. Despite having only one audience member cheering for him, Dan won the contest handily, and chose to open for HBO comedian Robert Schimmel, one of Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Standups of All Time and a frequent guest on the Howard Stern show.
The shows with Robert in November of 2003 went extremely well, and upon learning that Robert was booked to perform in Hawaii in December, Dan asked Robert if it would be okay to open for him there. Robert said that that would be fine, if it was okay with the Hawaii show producers. Dan made the necessary phone calls and was given permission to open for Robert, and he paid his own way down to the Hawaiian Islands.
On December 11, 2003 at the Pipeline Cafe in Honolulu, Robert saw Dan's act in its entirety for the first time. When Dan came off stage, Robert said "That was great!" Shortly thereafter, Robert invited Dan to tour the country as his feature act. (In comedy clubs, the host opens and closes the show, makes all the announcements and introduces the other comedians, then the feature does about 20 to 25 minutes, and the headliner performs for about 45 minutes to one hour.)
Over the next year, Dan featured for Robert at the top comedy clubs in the country - clubs as geographically disparate as the Irvine Improv, the Comedy Works in Denver and Carolines in New York. Dan had to pay his own airfare, and sometimes his own hotel, but of course the experience was invaluable. Robert took the young comedian under his wing, showing them the finer points of the business, helping Dan immensely with his career, in the same way that Rodney Dangerfield had helped Robert in the dawn of his career.
Robert's kindness and generosity were incredibly helpful. He was kind enough to set up a meeting between Dan and his manager in Beverly Hills. He took Dan to every radio interview in every city. In Phoenix, he was even kind confident enough to send Dan in his stead when he was too ill to do a radio interview. He often helped Dan with writing his material as well. Robert was even kind enough to write the foreword to Dan's forthcoming book.
Along with the rest of the comedy world, Dan was deeply, deeply saddened to learn of Robert's untimely death on September 3, 2010, in an unfortunate car accident.
Watch Robert and Dan performing together at venues all over the country: