Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interview with Comic Dan Frischman

Comic actor Dan Frischman, best known to audiences for TV’s Head of the Class, is about to open a night club act @ Sterling’s Upstairs @ Vitello’s on Sunday May 15. In our conversation, Frischman talks about what he’s accomplished since the TV sitcom and describes in great comic detail, as only Dan Frischman can, what to expect in the cabaret gig.

What happened after Head of the Class?

When Head of the Class ended in '91, I immediately went into a mad gotta-stay-out-there panic and hit the clubs doing stand-up, which I had done since my late teens. Once I'd calmed down a bit and realized that regular TV work comes in waves (unless you're one of about three TV actor/gods!), I went back to acting class and continued exploring the craft. I ended up writing, producing, and directing theater, which remain, to this day, the most fulfilling artistic endeavors of my career.  

Didn’t you star locally in one of your plays?

Yes, in About Faith. I played a Jewish stockbroker who falls for a devout Catholic art dealer whose father is a church deacon. It was produced at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and received nice reviews and two extensions.

You also went back into TV sitcoms, correct?

In the mid-90s, I snagged a stint as a series regular on Kenan & Kel, which ran for four years on Nickelodeon. This time, I got to play the boss, though I was still a bit of a goofball!  I seem to be pegged in this realm, and that’s just fine with me since I have a lot of fun with it. Afterwards, I turned back to writing, and penned a comedic adventure novel for the pre-teen market called Jackson & Jenks, Master Magicians.  Since I'd been a pro magician for two decades -- "The Great Houdanny," no less -- I made a tour of Barnes & Noble stores around the country, performing magic and selling the book. I also write screenplays, coach actors, and play poker way too often.  

What brought about the cabaret act?

Earlier this year, I decided it was time to hit the stage again, which led to my upcoming cabaret debut! I’m having a blast rehearing it. 

 Are you singing or is it purely standup?

I’ll be singing, dancing, and playing trombone with a live seven-piece big band.  I’ll also be integrating magic and stand-up into the evening, just to add to the fun. No plate spinning, but otherwise, I think I’ve got it all covered.  I'll be performing an eclectic set, with swing music from The Cherry Poppin' Daddies and The Red Elvises to “Rumania, Rumania”, a funny Yiddish folk song from 1925!  Also, a big band number I co-wrote, to be sung by Lani Shipman, a real up and comer in the biz. The band was put together by my musical director, Ben Armentano, who wrote the charts. The musicians are all top studio pros, so I’m working hard to get myself up to snuff on my slide trombone, which I took out of mothballs just for the gig! 

Has it been difficult getting back to the performing arts stuff?

It’s like riding a bicycle – or should I say a unicycle – but I know I’ll be ready on May 15th.  I wouldn’t have it any other away.

There you have it, straight from the man himself. It should be a stimulating evening, with lots of laughs!
Remember Sunday, May 15. Call for reservations: 818-754-8700 or visit:

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