The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is home to thousands of no-holds-barred acts that consistently push the boundary of what we might consider to be performance. From musicals about Brexit to a flight crash simulator show there’s no end to the weird and wacky at this year’s Fringe. Then there’s Roman Fraden’s show ‘Roman Fraden: Back in the Closet’ which seems to redefine the whole genre of comedy: bizarre isn’t a strong enough word for this one-man show filled with drugs, figure skating, Nutella, Tonya Harding, sequins and penises.
Back in the Closet kind of makes me regret any previous use of the word ‘bizarre’ because this show is wholly bizarre. A weird, wonderful gay odyssey that’s totally unafraid to be uncomfortable and distasteful. Fraden is a very spaced out comedian, like someone constantly on the verge of an epiphany. That’s very appropriate on account of how otherworldly this show is. There’s dancing, music, psychedelic lights and maybe The Voice of the Universe(?) There’s contemplation, profundity, and uh, penises.
Figure skating champion turned comedian Roman Fraden has a show at the Edinburgh Fringe this year titled Back in the Closet.
Why do you have to go back in the closet?
My dilemma: I want men, and I want them badly. Usually heterosexual men. Recipe for disaster? OF COURSE!
By Caro Moses | Published on Monday 13 August 2018
One of the things I like about the Fringe is the fact that while many performers arrive at it via a traditional route, loads of them seem to take a road less travelled, and that’s definitely the case for Roman Fraden, who, back in the early nineties, was a champion figure skater.
Since then he’s taken a fairly long and circuitous route to a career in comedy, but it seems as though he’s certainly found his niche. I arranged a chat to find out more about his life, his show, and the future.
BWW catches up with Roman Fraden to chat about bringing Back In The Closet to the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Tell us a bit about Back In The Closet.
I'd been doing stand-up for a few years here in the US but had always felt somehow limited by the format. Because of my figure skating background, and having worked with music most of my life, I really wanted to find a new way to present my material more theatrically than the traditional 'standing in one spot and speaking into a microphone'. I wanted movement and absurdity, stagecraft and lighting, piano, maybe even back up dancers, whatever it took to paint a visual experience of comedy and to really take the audience on a ride.
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
‘Back in the Closet’ is a despicable new one man show which I wrote over the Holidays last year in 2017 and began previewing shortly after this past winter in Los Angeles. It is the creamiest and most personal and outrageous layers of my stand-up material which I’ve been touring the US with over the past year and a half- and so is certainly a comedy- but with this show I wanted to present that material more theatrically (and with more of a story line) than a typical stand up show.
He's skating on thin ice.
Figure skating champ-turned-comic Roman Fraden is excited about "I, Tonya" getting Oscar buzz, largely because Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan — both of whom he knew — are subjects in his live comedy show "Back in the Closet."
Fraden was in Detroit's Cobo Arena when Kerrigan was attacked in 1994.
"I was coming off of a warm-up and literally taking my skates off when everyone came running — it was bizarre," Fraden recalled, adding that he watched as Kerrigan grabbed her knee, famously repeating "Why? Why? Why?"