In his latest solo comedy show “Unassisted Living,” now airing on Tubi, Fritz Coleman reminds audiences why he’s been welcome in people’s homes for nearly four decades, whether as a legendary Los Angeles weatherman or as a tireless comic always developing new material for his act. “This one is about getting older,” says Coleman, “and, as always, it’s just the truth of my life lately.”
There are very few entertainers who can point to a 40 year run in one of TV’s biggest markets, but Fritz Coleman served as a weatherman and reporter for KNBC Channel Four news from 1982 to 2020, during which time he won six local Emmy Awards, made eight appearances on “The Tonight Show,” and worked alongside Bob Hope, Debbie Reynolds, George Benson, and Ray Charles. He’s also long-delighted audiences locally with his long-running solo stand-up shows, including “The Reception” and “It’s Me! Dad!” which was produced for television by KCET.
As a young-ish 70-something who has dealt with aging in the time of Obamacare, big pharma and the pandemic, Coleman was actually eager to get back to a “regular” comedy routine after two years of pandemic-era entertainment. He continued to co-host the Media Path Podcast with Louise Palanker, trading observations on pop culture with a variety of guests from Pat Boone to Henry Winkler to Congressman Adam Schiff, but was eager to get back to performing comedy in front of an audience, even as nightclubs were still closed. Fortunately, his age and peer demographic started working for him. “Most baby boomers don’t really go to comedy clubs anymore, but I started to get invited to speak at a lot of lunches and dinners as Covid wound down. That gave me a chance to really work on some material in front of good audiences, so it’s been almost two years’ worth of developing this show.”
Coleman and his production team on “Unassisted Living” also took advantage of a Covid-era bingeing – in this case, the acclaimed HBO series “Hacks” – for inspiration. Delighted by the episode where Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) “revives” her tired act in a small nightclub, they sought out the same venue (“The Marilyn Monroe Forum” room at the El Portal Theatre) as a location. “It was a great cabaret-style setting, about 80 people, and we staged it the same way, lit it the same way, because it was perfect for the act.”
In an hour-long routine about dealing with aging in the era of social distancing and social media, Coleman delights in serving his loyal demographic in their current frame of mind. It’s the same generation of comedy fans who grew up with the hilarious extended riffs of George Carlin, Robert Klein, and Richard Pryor – but Coleman delivers with a gentler touch developed over years of working on local television news. “Because of the way it was when I was on TV in the 70s and 80s, I’ve always worked very clean,” says Coleman. “You had to have a squeaky clean act to get on ‘The Tonight Show.’ That’s perfect for my audience because they don’t want to be assaulted by comedy, or feel uncomfortable with it.”
Still delighting his fans and sharing his stories after over forty years, Fritz Coleman proves all over again how he’ll be getting by – somehow – just fine.