Libraries are normally regarded as staid and quiet places where students go to study, homeless people sleep and book buffs explore new realms of literature. But the South Pasadena Public Library has been breaking that mold for years thanks to the adventurous events bookings of its head librarian Steve Fjeldsted, who has brought in movie screenings with filmmaker discussions, rock concerts and other special events that raise the roof frequently on Thursday nights in the library’s historic Carnegie Room.
Next Thursday, Feb. 8, the library will feature a special one-hour comedy event starring nationally known South Pasadena-based comic Don Friesen. The only two-time winner in the 36-year history of the prestigious San Francisco International Comedy Competition and the star of his own Showtime special (“Call Your Mom”), the family-oriented funnyman promises an evening of clean and clever comedy that will fill the halls with laughter.
“I grew up being told ‘Keep it down!’ and ‘Shh!’ pretty much anywhere I went, but especially in libraries,” says Friesen. “So not only do I look forward to this as a fun night of entertaining people, but also as revenge on all the librarians of my childhood! I just hope the audiences know they don’t have to be silent either.”
A native of Fresno, Friesen fell into comedy after attempts at a sales career ranging from peddling vacuum cleaners to selling commercial real estate didn’t pan out. He had always had a manic, funny energy and decided to finally embrace his inner class clown and make his mark in comedy.
He is a frequent headliner at the Ice House and Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, but truly shines in the worlds of cruise ship and corporate comedy. In addition to his specials, his impressive credits include “Live at Gotham” and “The Lewis Black Christmas Special” on Comedy Central and the CBS late-night staple “Comics Unleashed.” He has also been frequently played on Sirius XM satellite radio’s comedy channels and KLOS-FM’s “5 O’Clock Funnies.”
The move to a life of laughter has paid off, as he’s maintained a happy life with Debbie, his wife of 25 years, and his college-age kids, Fletcher and Josie.
“After 25 years, people keep coming up to me asking if I’m going to renew my vows, and I’m surprised because I didn’t realize they expire,” laughs Friesen. “And I always dreamed of owning a million-dollar house, but I didn’t realize that would mean a two bedroom, one bath fixer-upper. Living in South Pasadena is great because of its small-town feel, because when grocery stores are just 50 feet away from each other, you’ll never be out of Diet Mountain Dew.”
Friesen’s routines capture the ironies of parenting, marriage and everyday absurdities through characters, voices, parodies and some of the best material around. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says, “Friesen will leave a lasting comic impression, since he’s offbeat, satirical, self-deprecating and slightly out of control.”
Don Friesen performs at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Feb. 8, at the South Pasadena Public Library’s Community Room, 1115 El Centro Street. Admission is free. Call (626) 403-7340.