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?"
Yet he still prefers Harding as a person.
"If I had to spend a day locked in a house with one of them, it would be Tonya Harding," he said. "I just think she's more real and I'd rather kick it with somebody who came from a real place that some might consider trashy or low income or crazy."
Even before that incident, Fraden, the 1992 U.S. Novice men's free skating champion, was very aware of Harding's presence.
"There was always this heavy, dark-cloud vortex over her and everything she was associated with," he said. "She was already known as an established bad girl."
Fraden likes Margot Robbie's chances of winning an Oscar for her portrayal of Harding on Sunday, but notes beating Meryl Streep is never easy.
His own show also deals with a 1999 news story where Fraden became a key player after supporting another skater's accusation of sexual misconduct against figure skating coach Richard Callaghan. Callaghan denied wrongdoing and was cleared by the United States Figure Skating Association later that year.
Despite all his drama on and off the ice, Fraden says he "wasn't emotionally scarred" and can joke about these things in "Back in the Closet," which is in previews at the Lyric Hyperion Theater in Los Angeles and opening in April.
He also encourages bronze-medal-winning skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani, who celebrated their success in South Korea by lighting up the Empire State Building on Tuesday, to look forward to their post-skating lives.
"I mean, hey, look at me — I now have a flourishing career telling semi-dirty jokes and making people laugh in airports, bars and subway bathrooms," he joked.
With Brian Niemietz