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Will Franken

January 13, 2007

It’s difficult to categorize Will Franken. Part of the problem is you only have to conjure up an image of the gangly, potbellied, hippy-haired performer shambling about the stage in a sloppy jacket and jeans to laugh out loud. You laugh so hard, you’re not quite sure what you’re laughing at. The more I see Franken perform, the more I am convinced of his genius. At The Purple Onion last night, the headliner stole the show with his “bits” which are more like something you’d get if Antonin Artaud, Michael Palin and Thomas Hobbes created a play together than a traditional comedy routine.

He stands out from the crowd. In the past, I’ve only ever seen him do solo shows. It was palpable to see how different his style is when you see him as part of a lineup with other comedians. The couple that opened last night’s proceedings seemed so ordinary in comparison with their rambling jokes about drugs, marital life, politics etc. I think Franken should continue to perform in comedy clubs. He brings theatre to a new environment. He’s an ambassador. Actually, he is going to be something of an ambassador in the coming weeks: he’s been invited to take part in a BBC TV show in the UK. He’ll be in London for a week in February working on the program. I hope he manages the 11-hour flight OK. Franken is terrified of flying.

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