Comedian Frankie Paul is still the class clown
Stand-up comedian Frankie Paul grew up making people laugh.
“I had that class-clown thing going in school, and when I made a joke that made the teacher laugh I knew that I wouldn’t get sent to the principal’s office,” Paul said during a phone call to The Park Record from Melbourne, Florida. “I never really thought about going into comedy, as big a fan as I was.”
It wasn’t until 1988 when Paul, who will perform Dec. 1-2 at the Egyptian Theatre, did any actual stage work.
“My boss at the factory I worked at told us he was giving an employee party and talent contest to boost morale,” Paul said. “He told me he signed me up to do five minutes of comedy. So I had to do it.”
Paul jotted down some jokes and winged it on stage.
“The crowd loved it, but the judges hated it,” he said. “So I knew I had something.”
From then on, Paul sought open mic nights and entered a few contests and landed a house emcee gig at Coconuts Club in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
“I got to work two of the four days, and when that closed, the lady who owned the club drove me out to Orlando to the Bonkerz Club,” Paul said. “I started driving out there every Tuesday. It was an hour drive for five-minutes of stage time and then I’d drive back to Melbourne to work at the factory at midnight.”
After Paul kept getting into work late after driving back from the Bonkerz shows, his boss took him aside.
“He told me that I was out of vacation time and suggested that I quit so I can pursue the comedy,” Paul said. “He also said if it didn’t work out, he’d just hire me back.”
Once Paul quit, he didn’t go back. Since then he’s appeared on FOX, NBC and Comedy Central and has performed on dozens of radio shows.
His material has evolved over the years, although his style remains the same.
“I will take things you’ve seen before and make you look at them from another angle, and I like to act everything out,” Paul said. “I have one of those shows that is high-energy and observational. That old saying, ‘It’s funny because it’s true,’ comes out in my act a lot.”
The big challenge is keeping his material fresh.
“I know some comedians who relied on a good act for many years, and things eventually got old and didn’t work for them anymore,” Paul said. “So it’s important to me to keep writing, because it keeps me relevant.”
Many bits in Paul’s act are the result of him talking with friends.
“We’ll talk about a certain subject and I’ll give my opinion and my friends will stop and say, ‘You need that in your act,’” he said. “Then I’ll ask them to remind me what I said, because I already forgotten it.”
One topic Paul avoids is politics.
“When I did that in the past, I always came off as being frustrated and angry and not funny,” he said. “Since I’m more silly than assertive, the anger makes people uncomfortable. And the more I hear angry comics, the more I feel they are venting rather than performing a choreographed show. It works for a lot of people and they do it very well, but it just doesn’t work for me.”
Paul also likes to tailor each show to its audience.
“I do know that there are certain crowds that will think something’s funny while other crowds will think another thing is funny,” he said. “There are some things that I wouldn’t say because of demographics.”
Paul did say, however, that if he finds something he thinks if funny, he’ll try it.
“Right now there are a lot of comedians, and I really have to hustle these days to make this a living,” he said. “So, I have to try new things.”
Although he enjoys traveling, Paul said the biggest reward is twofold.
“You feel a mixture of two things when you make people laugh,” he said “One, you help people forget their troubles for an hour. Secondly, I get the attention that I crave. It makes for a nice little sandwich.”
Stand-up comedians Frankie Paul and Debbie Praver will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Friday tickets range from $15-$25. Saturday tickets range from $19 to $29. For information, visit parkcityshows.com.
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