What does it take to be successful in comedy? Some might say an interesting, frumpy look, while others rely on a standard routine. But for funny man Dan Frigolette, comedy is a way of life. And perhaps that is the best way, finding humor in the ordinary day or things gone horribly wrong. This Hoboken resident has big plans. Not just the Hoboken Comedy Festival he is hosting, but also his upcoming night of comedy headlining at Caroline’s on Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
If you listen to the tales Dan will tell you, his launch into comedy began at a very young age – the age of 2 – he realized his much bigger and older sister would continue to torture him unless he distracted her by making her laugh.
“I had a bad upbringing. My sister didn’t want me to be born. She would knock me down. The only time we got along was when I made her laugh,” said Dan. “She has a beautiful laugh and the only time she wasn’t trying to kill me was when I made her laugh. Otherwise, she was just killing me.”
Dan believes in being truthful in life and in his craft. In fact, his biggest gripe with other comedians is the ones who will lie onstage to make a joke bigger. “I can’t support dishonesty in comedy,” he says, and he adds that sometimes the funniest recreated moments are when you retell a story that someone else has exaggerated. “For me there is an artistic etiquette. For me it is funnier if I find what is funny in what actually happened.” He adds that he has never been good at exaggerating. “My mother and my sister are very good at it, but I’m a jerk for the details. I’ll say – that’s not how it happened,” he says.
His road to comedy was an unusual one. He went to Syracuse University and majored in advertising. His first show was in 2003. He says that he talked himself into a comedy club in Syracuse, to help pay off his student loans. Then in 2005 that he moved to the NYC area. Broke, no job, no plan and no apartment, he still manages to make that sound funny.
“I’m still alive. I’m doing okay. I have pants and a shirt,” he says.
Growing up, he recalls watching Bill Cosby and Tim Allen. He recalls watching those shows with his dad and says there is much to admire about their technique.
While he enjoys performing, Dan has more ambitions than just performing the circuit. For the past two years, he has been producing the Hoboken Comedy Festival. In a town known for its nightlife, it has surprisingly very few comedy shows. The festival runs five nights at different venues in town and includes different headliners at each performance. He plans to MC the Friday night performance this weekend and includes a stellar line up.
On Friday night, performances will be held at West Five Supper Club at 7:30 p.m., Maxwell’s at 10 p.m., on Saturday performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Maxwell’s and on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Pilsener Haus Biergarten.
He admires performers like Cosby, who is clean by today’s standards, he says his routine is fairly explicit. “I curse. I have a potty mouth. I come from an Italian household of potty mouths,” he explains. “My mother will pretend she doesn’t know where it comes from while she is yelling at me and cursing at me.” He says that he was telling explicit things from the beginning and they never tried to curb him away from that.
“Other people will come up to me and say, ‘I can’t believe you say that in front of your mother.’ She’s funny, she comes to my shows and she’s Italian so I can’t win anyway. If she’s in the shows, people say something and if I don’t make fun of her she says, ‘What I’m not good enough to make fun of anymore?’ I just can’t win,” he says.
Dan says he loves Hoboken and defends it all the time. Initially, he says it was like “nails on the concrete” trying to get him to leave Manhattan, but now he feels the same way about Hoboken.
“I defend Hoboken all the time. I tell people it’s seven minutes to get to Hoboken. I lived in Brooklyn. It took me 45 minutes to get home at night. It’s perfect for the late night schedule,” he says, adding that his goal is to get people to Hoboken and to support the community. Last year the festival helped support the Hoboken Boys and Girls Club, this year it is to help the Liberty Humane Shelter, as he has a dog now named Tess.
He says he can’t walk the dog down Washington Street as Tess attracts too many women. “She’s too adorable. I have to waIk her on back streets like a leper so people don’t stop me,” he says.
When I point out to him that some people have gotten dogs to get a date, he says “I can’t transition from here’s my dog to hey take my number.” He says he needs a girl that is able to “sit on a park bench with him and make fun of people.”
One date gone wrong was when Dan did get his park bench dream. He said he was hanging out with this girl one time and they sat down on a bench. He explains that he thought they were having a good time. “She gives me another shot and I didn’t know I needed another shot! She says, ‘You took me to a park bench!’ And I say, I’m sorry. I thought we were having a good time. I didn’t know I had to spend $1000. on drinks to make you want to hang out with me,” he said.
That date didn’t work out for him. But like many seasoned performers, it is all grist for the mill. And while he spends much of his time making fun of himself – he’s happy. For the past two years he has committed to comedy. “We all have our place,” he says.
To find out more about the Hoboken Comedy Festival, visit: www.HobokenFestival.com.