Tragedy Plus Time: Calgary Comedian Frank Russo

Frank Russo has been performing stand-up comedy for over 12 years all across Canada. Previously producing weekly and monthly shows in Halifax and Toronto, he now calls Calgary home.

Frank Russo

How would you describe your comedy style?

Observational mostly, usually try and find mundane topics and drag them into the absurd. As humans we prefer to focus on positives and ideals, I enjoy exploring all the realities and trappings of life in the least serious way possible.

Who are some of your influences?

I was always a big fan of comedy growing up, would come home from school and watch whatever was on Comedy Network: In Living Color, Mad TV, Just For Laughs, Chappelle Show, The Wayans Brothers, etc. To this day I’ll stop what I’m doing to watch old Martin Lawrence movies like Blue Streak and National Security; or Steve Martin gems like Bowfinger and Sgt. Bilko.

When I was 17 years old the internet just started becoming useful and I was going down George Carlin and Richard Pryor rabbit holes. That’s what got me hooked on stand-up.

Who was your favourite comedian growing up?

George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Brian Regan, Ron White, Robert Schimmel, Bernie Mac, Richard Jeni, Dave Chappelle

Who is your favourite comedian now?

Dave Chappelle, Jimmy Carr, Ron White

What is your pre-show ritual?

I try and get to the show 30 minutes to 1 hour early, hang out, take in the vibe of the room. When it’s almost time to go up I’ll lightly shadow box or if another comic is around, fake karate fight. Anything to loosen up and get the blood flowing.

What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?

I previously produced and hosted a weekly show Fresh Baked Comedy out of the High Life Social Club, a pot lounge in Halifax, NS. It was a super unique venue and the show had a very dedicated following that would pack the room regularly.

It was my favourite place because I had a very close relationship with the audience (I’d talk to most of them afterwards almost every week) which grew into a bizarre dynamic where they became part of the show. If a comedian was bombing at a normal show the audience would heckle or lose interest, at Fresh Baked Comedy they would all just look away and stare at me off to the side like “Why have you done this to us?”.

One time I mentioned in a joke my favourite thing is banana bread, the next week an audience member brought me 2 loaves of ‘special banana bread’ and insisted I eat some before the show. This was before legalization so THC edibles were always a gamble ranging between feeling buzzed and requiring assistance home. I don’t remember much from the show that night but I’m told it was entertaining.

What is your favourite bit you have written and why were you proud of it?

“Stupidity is the one thing we all have in common. Everyone here is the dumbest person someone else has ever met, regardless of intelligence. All it takes is one off day.”

I enjoy this because it’s the end of a series of jokes that work to dissolve any egos or prejudices in the crowd. We all live different lives but everyday life struggles are universal.

What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?

YouTube, Instagram, Podcasts.

Local open mics are the best way to find new comedians. The headliner will likely be whichever touring comic is passing through town and it comes with the bonus of seeing all the hilarious people who do it for fun that have no intention of pursuing comedy professionally.

Tell us a joke about your city.

There is no sand at Sandy Beach Park in Calgary. Sandy Beach is not a person. No one in Calgary seems bothered by this.

Do you have anything to promote right now?

I’ll be all over the East Coast this spring as part of the DIY Comedy Tour.

In Calgary, you can catch me every Thursday at 8 pm at Reckless Comedy at the Dirty Duck Pub in Inglewood. If you can’t make it there just become a regular at any of the other open mics around town and we’ll eventually run into each other.

Where can we follow you? 

Instagram | Email

PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?

Running open mics is a thankless slog so give Erin Wood, Zac Wiggins, Ryan Butterfield, Yianni Assimakis and Tarah Buchanan a follow to know what’s going on in Calgary.

Comic wise: Maxwell Xavier, Tehseer Hussain, and Ben Cannon are all worth putting your phones down for.

 

About Emilea Semancik 82 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: