As the weeknight weatherman for KNBC Channel 4, Fritz Coleman has been alerting Angelenos to the latest weather forecasts and news for the past 33 years. Yet he’s also maintained a thriving side career as a stand-up comedian, appearing monthly at the Ice House with a string of one-man shows that have packed the house and raised much-needed funds for countless local charities.
On Sunday, Coleman, 69, hits that vaunted stage again with his constantly updated show “Defying Gravity,” in which he addresses the humorous aspects of aging for the over-50 generation. The Pennsylvania native started his career as a comedian and disc jockey for several years in Buffalo, before moving to LA in 1980 to pursue stand-up more fully and becoming KNBC’s weekend weatherman in 1982.
Coleman is grateful to the Ice House for giving him a platform to keep his dreams alive, even if it’s considered a fun hobby now.
“It was the first comedy club in Southern California to actually pay me to perform,” recalls Coleman. “I had performed in Buffalo, New York, in jazz clubs and decided I wanted to give the career a shot. I wasn’t as good as I should have been at first, but I worked my way up and auditioned and the Ice House hired me as a paid emcee. It was my first paying gig in SoCal and I have a great affection for them.
“Any successful club is a reflection of the class of its owners,” adds Coleman. “Even in the shallower days of the comedy business, when it all but collapsed, the Ice House continued because of the class of the owners and the allegiance of the comedians to the club because they’re treated well. And when you get a response from one of their crowds, it’s like surfing a tsunami. It’s just a great, great response.”
Coleman has written and performed two prior one-man theater acts, titled “The Reception” and “It’s Me! Dad!” He received the 2004 EMA Community Service Award for his involvement with KNBC’s “4 our Planet,” a children’s program. He appeared in a supporting role in one of Raymond Burr’s last Perry Mason television films, “The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host,” in 1993.
With “Gravity” focusing largely on aging issues, Coleman has performed special editions of the show at fundraisers for senior programs including the Pasadena Senior Center. He has also repeatedly served as the keynote speaker for the Conference on Aging, held annually at Pasadena’s First Church of the Nazarene.
“Getting older isn’t pretty, but it’s funny,” Coleman says. “My evening might jokingly be offered to a 50-plus support group.” but is certainly not limited to senior citizens.”
Fritz Coleman performs “Defying Gravity” at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Ice House, 24 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. Tickets are $15 to $22. Call (626) 577-1894 or visit icehousecomedy.com.