It's no secret that Fritz Coleman leads a double life. When the Valley Village resident is not providing the weather forecast on NBC's “Channel 4 News,” there's a good chance he is doing stand-up comedy somewhere to benefit charity.
Coleman performs regularly on the third Sunday of the month at The Ice House in Pasadena. He will be at the venue this Sunday in support of the North Hollywood-based San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, which offers emergency and long-term rehabilitation services to those in need. Next month his show will benefit Casa de las Amigas, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for women in Pasadena.
“My background is comedy. I actually got my job doing the weather from comedy,” Coleman said.
In 1982, Coleman was a staff performer at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. During his act, he quipped how he was “forced” to do the weather report when he worked in radio. Then-NBC news director Steve Antoniotti was in the audience and approached Coleman after the show, inviting him to audition for a fill-in weatherman spot on his program. Making only $45 a night at the club, Coleman eagerly tried out, was hired, and two years later, took over when the full-time weatherman left.
The career change has resulted in 32 years of steady employment, but Coleman has continued performing stand-up at any opportunity.
“I'm an observational comic. I love to point out the quirky aspects of our lives that are common and put a little bit of a twist on them and lightly sautè it in my own neurosis and it comes out in an amusing fashion, I hope,” Coleman said.
Coleman said what makes his performances different is he does one-person shows. The current production, “Fritz Coleman Speaks to a Generation,” is his fourth and addresses life over 50. He hopes to eventually turn the show into a full multimedia stage production. But for now, Coleman said the over-50 crowd call it a “Baby Boomer support group,” while the younger set look at the humor as a cautionary tale.
Coleman's stand-up act also allows him to help others less fortunate. Because of his visibility on television, he is often invited to aid organizations in a variety of ways, like being a guest speaker for an event.
“I just love the fact that you can make a difference. So I go out and perform and do some amusing things and they get the money to make their organization better and everybody leaves with a little something,” Coleman said.
For The Ice House's monthly performance, Coleman chooses to benefit organizations close enough to Pasadena so their supporters will attend the show. He donates 100 percent of the proceeds to the charity of the evening.
“It's a 130-seat theater so they're not going to make enough money to solve all their problems, but what it is is a feel-good evening for the base of people who support the organization,” Coleman said.
In turn, the organizations appreciate Coleman's efforts.
“We are honored that Fritz chose the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission to benefit from his comedy show,” said Wade Trimmer, director of the organization. “It's nice to know that a night of laughter will help us provide many nights of safety and support for our guests.”
Coleman's experience in comedy has also helped with his weather career, since the news is presented live with a computer running everything and sometimes technological meltdowns happen, he said.
“Stand-up has taught me not to be flapped by any of this stuff,” Coleman said. “I've played to drunks at 1 o'clock in the morning, there's nothing a computer can do to me that will embarrass me on the news. One has really trained me to do well at the other.”
And sometimes the two professions aren't all that different.
“Weather can be funny,” Coleman said. “Your big mission as a weatherman in Southern California is to try to make the same forecast sound slightly different and entertaining every day between April and November when the weather is exactly the same.”
When: 7 p.m. third Sunday of the month, next show is Sunday.
Where: The Ice House, 24 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena.
Tickets: $15, plus two-drink minimum, ages 18 and up.
Information: 626-577-1896, www.icehousecomedy.com.