One of the country’s gentlemen comedians, Freddie Roman, is back at the McCallum Theatre. Roman, a veteran of some forty years in show business and twenty-five years of those performing on the ‘Catskills Circuit’ in New York State where he was known as “The King of the Borscht Belt”, returns to the McCallum stage for a one night only performance on Friday, February 24th at 8:00PM.
Roman is joined on the Palm Desert, McCallum stage, with comedian Elayne Boosler, and triple-threat piano player, singer and comedian performer Sarge, as all three comedy Pros perform in Roman’s “Catskills on Broadway” show. For many patrons the show will be a trip down memory lane as the last of the Catskills hotels closed three years ago. For others, it will be an opportunity enjoy new material by top-tier comedy performers.
I had the opportunity to interview him via telephone in his warm and snug New Jersey home while forty degree weather howled outside.
JL: You have been a comedian for many years. Do you still enjoy the challenge and the grind of the road and the overall life of a
FR: Absolutely! It’s been my passion for years. I love my audiences. When I get to meet some of them after the show, they say,’
I hope you’re not going to retire. Keep on doing it’, we love it! I always tell them, No, I’m having too much fun to retire.
So you’re stuck with me.
JL: When you were younger and learning your craft who were role models?
FR: Oh, there were many, but I kind of favored the comedy of George Burns, the wise cracks of Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, and Alan
King. But, I truly admired the comedy of Jack Benny. He was such a brilliant entertainer with brilliant comedy timing.
JL: I think Benny holds the showbiz record for the longest prolonged audience laughter with his line when asked in a radio routine
by a burglar, “your money or your life?” Benny just said nothing for about10 seconds, then the burglar says, ‘Well?’ And Benny
replies with, ‘I’m thinking about it!’ The audience laughed for almost a minute. That’s a lot of radio air time where nothing
is being said. The bit worked because of Benny’s made-up reputation, by him, that he was a bit of a tight-wad, who hid his
money in a vault beneath his home, which, of course, he didn’t and he wasn’t a skin-flint either.
FR: You’ve made my point about Benny.
JL: What about female comedians in a man’s world?
FR: The great Totie Fields and Joan Rivers. Both both wonderfully fearless comedians. Elayne, who is in our show is also a
terrific comedian. Years ago, I had the pleasure of opening for Totie many times and we became friends. She was very generous to me and later arranged for me to become the opening act for Juliet Prowse in Las Vegas. That led to playing Vegas and the great hotels for the next fourteen years. Totie was one of a kind. I also opened for Steve and Edye, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, and others. It was great fun.
JL: You’ve been very generous with your time, but I would like to ask one last question before we close, is that okay?
FR: Yes, of course.
JL: Do you have any favorite or memorable anecdotes that you feel our readers might find funny or amusing?
FR: I don’t know if they will find it funny, but it was sure funny at the time it was happening. Totie, her husband George, and me
we’re leaving the show at The Mill Run Theatre, in Skokie, Illinois, one night when all of a sudden Totie spots a police car and
begins to shout, Rape! Rape! The squad car pulls up, and out, come the cops. Fortunately for us, one policeman recognized
Totie. He had seen our show the night before. He mildly scolded her for her prank and we all went on our way laughing and
giggling as we got to our car. Show business people. We thought it was hilarious. That’s one night in Chicago I still
remember to this day.
JL: Thanks, Freddie
FR: My pleasure Jack
Freddie Roman’s show “Catskills on Broadway” performs on Friday, February 24th at 8:00PM. For reservations and ticket information call the McCallum box office at 760- 340-2787.