American figure skating champion turned comedian Roman Fraden invites you to take a cosmic journey Back In The Closet – his personal odyssey through motel rooms with Tonya Harding, catastrophic Grindr hookups, and the deeply upsetting story behind why Sting once called him “pussy of a plant”.
Roman talks to The Fountain about his excitement for performing at the Fringe for the first time and how this will compare to gigging in LA.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
I’m super excited. I’ve been doing stand-up for a few years, and had just recently begun fantasising about bringing the best hour of my material to Edinburgh. Originally I was prepared to just go do that somewhere in the back of a shrimp restaurant on the edge of town, toss the dice and see what happens. My show has come a long way since that original vision, and I’m so thrilled to now be doing it at Gilded Balloon. It’s a great venue, the people are super cool, I have a great team in place. Very very exciting….
TF: Your show certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
The show is a theatrical presentation of the frothiest layer of my stand up material which I’d been touring the US with the past two years. A lot of it centres around my comedic attempts at fitting in with contemporary gay culture, and how these epic fails often drive me to want to go ‘back in the closet’. It’s about half stand up and half absurd physical comedy which weave together into a takedown of modern life. Mostly I roast myself, but the humour of it applies to everyone and it’s usually a really great time. And filthy. Definitely filthy.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
My background in ice skating, dance, and music was what shaped this stand up project into the staged show that it is now. I always felt limited with just staying in place holding a microphone as a traditional stand-up comic often does, and had recently seen some shows here in LA that really blew the lid off of what I believed to be limits of live comedy. So I took the most laughable parts of my touring material and sculpted this one-man show out of that, infusing some piano, absurdity, simulated figure skating, and a trip to cosmos where all questions get answered.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe?
It’s my first time visiting Edinburgh, and just that alone would be a beautifully worthwhile trip. Adding this amazing festival into the equation, I’m really just excited to perform as much as possible, it’s such an amazing environment with infinite possibilities and I really have no idea what’s about to happen! Here in Los Angeles (being a car-driven town), it’s not so easy doing more than two or three shows per week, and so things can feel quite diluted at times in terms of stage opportunity. I’m looking forward to doing my late show in Edinburgh every night, along with all of the other guest spots, meeting new people, staying out late and charming attractive heterosexual men until the sun comes up.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond your show?
I would love to tour this show, get it really nice and solid while in the UK and just network my tits off. I’ve done many different things in life, but nothing ever comes close to the dream of going out on stage each night and making people laugh. In whatever capacity I can get that figured out, I’m ready to give everything I’ve got to make that happen.
Roman Fraden: Back In The Closet, Gilded Balloon – Teviot, Balcony Room, August 1st– 27th (not 15th), 11:30pm