Written by Michiana Entertainer Saturday, 29 January 2011 15:10
WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU (MAKES YOU STRONGER):
After 20 years on the circuit, Detroit comedian Frank Roche has strong feelings about what works, and what doesn't. “A lot of comics do not kill, but when they get offstage, that's what they say,” said Roche. “It's almost like there's a blocking out of what's really happening: 'Oh, man, I killed,' and it's like, 'No, you didn't. You barely got by, you had no applause breaks – what do you mean, you killed?''” But Roche says he's never known that feeling, thanks to the style that he's cultivated since high school – when he began working comedy clubs as a 17-year-old senior, armed with a fake ID.
Suffice to say, if you're seeking deep and meaningful insights, Roche won't be your man, which is fine by him. Appropriately, his earliest inspirations include such rapid-fire delivery masters as Jim Carrey, Rodney Dangerfield and Robin Williams, whom he credits with shaping his philosophy. “Comedy, like any profession, has its own process of weeding people out,” said Roche. “You have to have a formula to rock the crowd, whether it's a biker bar or an elderly home. Once you figure out that formula, you go from being nervous before a show, to knowing that you're about to kick this crowd's ass.”
His other project begins filming in Detroit this summer, for release next year. “The Italy Boys” is a Mafia thriller set in the Motor City, with Roche playing a boss's son. He'll appear beside Hollywood heavyweights like Danny Aiello, William Forsythe and Harvey Keitel – who signed on after reading his script. That opportunity opened up through Vinny Vella Sr., who also had a big part in Martin Scorsese's mob thriller, “Casino” (1995). “He and I got to be such good friends – he put my script in Harvey Keitel's hand, Danny Aiello's hand, everyone,” said Roche. “All the guys that he asked to read it came back and said, 'We love it,' and gave me letters of intent.”
Depending on “The Italy Boys” fares, Roche hopes to take his standup game to top venues in Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. Asked how he sees the comedy business shaping up, Roche quotes an AC/DC song lyric: “It's a long way to the top, if you wanna rock 'n' roll.” “Jon Lovitz, from 'Saturday Night Live,' he's back on the road,” said Roche. “Andrew Dice Clay is back on the road. That takes away from me, because I'm competing for the same headliner spots at those clubs. Luckily, my agent keeps me in the mix. A lot of guys aren't performing anymore – they got weeded out, because of the economy, clubs closing, and not as many positions to fill. It's definitely brutal – but if they (patrons) make their way to the show in Middlebury, they're not gonna leave unhappy, because I'm gonna smoke that room like a pipe.”