When the host is introducing James Frey to the stage, some might get confused and think he is best selling author, but he’s not. Although he shares the same name, one look at the comedian James Frey and you will realize he is big in Japan and huge in America. Standing at 6’5 and sporting a beard, long hair and clothes that have an outdoorsy feel, give him a memorable quality along with his comedy. “My comedy is obscure. It’s so random. I try and say things that people have never thought of,” he said. Influenced by Zach Galifianakis, Jim Carrey and Mitch Hedberg—Frey has a love for jokes, but ultimately, “It’s always been in the back of my mind, being a comedic actor and I finally got enough courage and following a passion is worth pretty much anything I can think of,” he notes. Doing stand up comedy is preparing him for being a working comedic actor, and he hones his skills at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and the well known Groundlings Improv program. Frey has come a long way in a short time, being that he is already hosting comedy shows and performing gigs. Prior to working the stage for laughs, Frey graduated from Cal Poly, but then worked as a paramedic for four years. “It was a cool job, but too serious,” he admits. “I don’t like to be serious.” His journey started out slowly, but has evolved nicely. “I moved down here from san Luis Obsipo and I am still finding myself, but I am pretty funny in real life, and go on stage and say things I find to be funny,” he said, regarding performing stand up comedy. He challenges some rules that others might impose. “I think if a joke is funny, you can say it anytime. I don’t take things seriously. I have a relaxed attitude about life. I’d rather just enjoy my time,” he confesses.
Some might wonder what being a 6’5 comedian is like. He has been compared to looking like a lumberjack, and one might wonder if he fares well with the ladies being a tall drink of water. “I think I am too intimidating. Some women can’t handle a lumberjack—can’t handle the heavy timber I am working with,” he chimes. A skill that maybe most tall men don’t have that Frey does is dancing. He has been deemed “James Fancy Feet,” due to his “astonishing dance moves,” he said. “I don’t bring them out much—kind of like a werewolf only comes out during a full moor or special occasions. The dance moves are there when needed, and originality is my strong suit.” You may also think a strong tall man wouldn’t get nervous before a comedy gig, but that isn’t true. Nerves get the best of him in that he admits to pacing around, and peeing a lot before he gets called to the stage. “I’d rather watch other comedians than think about my own set. There is a bit of anxiety before you go up. But once you are on stage and have a microphone, there is pure enjoyment,” he quips. An element, most comedians dare to overcome are hecklers and having an off night, where there are minimal laughs. Obviously, the goal is to get others laughing, but that doesn’t always happen.
I have had shows where I walk off feeling like a king, and other times felt like never telling another joke again in my life,” he said. So how does this tall comedian overcome such obstacles? “I say ‘I know this joke is funny and I had an off night. Every time I tell a joke, I tell it a little different and a little better. I look for improvements anywhere I can. You never stick with something. Your set is an evolution and it constantly evolves.” Those are wise words from a lumberjack. Now if you ever run into Frey in a dark alley or outside of a comedy club, you should be forewarned of his pet peeves. “You know what bugs me? Is every time I tell someone I am in comedy, they always say, ‘tell me a joke.’ You might as well say dance for us monkey,” he quips. But if you want to get on his good side, laugh at his jokes. When Frey isn’t performing comedy, he is doing something active. He shared that he loves the smell of the snow and the mountains. “I am a huge hiker and hike a lot. I am an outdoors guy and like being in nature,” he shares.
You can currently catch James Frey performing Wednesday nights at the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club performing two shows a month. He has also performed at The Comedy Store, Flappers, and hosts an amateur night at Famous Bar and Grill.