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Don Friesen joins Barbara Holliday and Joshua Snyder in a playful discussion about dream jobs and pursuing a career in Comedy.
Fresh, frenetic, and self-deprecating to a fault, Don Friesen’s comedy is outrageously physical yet thoroughly relatable. Don’s willingness to admit his flaws and exploit them for maximum comedic potential has a way of not only entertaining, but at the same time tapping into the humanity in all of us. It’s a uniquely fun, clever, and clean act with an incredibly broad appeal—an act that has earned him rave reviews and die-hard fans throughout the country.
Growing up in Fresno, CA, Don was a bright and somewhat hyperkinetic baseball fan who idolized Willie Mays and dreamed of someday playing centerfield for the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, being a late bloomer who couldn’t hit a curve ball, Don’s dream died an early and relatively unceremonious death at the Bullard High School tryout camp.
Fortunately, he also idolized Bill Cosby. As a child, Don would check out Cosby’s albums from the library, memorize the routines, and wear them out on whoever he could get to listen (mostly his kid sister.) Later, in his teens, he would do the same with Steve Martin albums, eventually moving on to Woody Allen, Robert Klein, and Monty Python.
But despite his lifelong passion for comedy, Don was a shy kid from Fresno who never considered that this was something he could do for a living. After high school (and a few stints in junior college) Friesen went directly into the work force, trying his hand at everything from construction worker, security guard, waiter, bartender, cab driver, car salesman, water salesman, Rainbow Vacuum salesman, and commercial real estate agent, just to name a few. Eventually he regretted skipping college and decided to go back, earning his business degree at USC. It was there that his career took an unexpected turn… As a senior with some electives to burn, Don took an improv class and discovered that, along with his passion for comedy, he also had quite a knack for it. He loved it so much that he started a campus improv troupe called Commedus Interruptus, and his fledgling comedy career was off and running.
After graduation, Don began doing stand-up at open mikes in Los Angeles. Around this time, he met his wife Jill, and in less than a year they were married. After a couple of years of cutting his teeth at open mikes, Don realized that the best way to continue growing as a comic was to go on the road, so in January of 1995, he loaded up his Chevy Nova and began tirelessly touring America. Friesen’s first year on the road, he logged over 50,000 miles on his car, and slept in it countless times, but it definitely turned out to be worth it, as he discovered that the combination of non-stop writing and non-stop performing were quickly enabling him to find his comic voice.
Since then Don’s career has soared. He quickly became a national headliner, and in 1999, he won the prestigious San Francisco International Comedy Competition, the same competition that helped launch the careers of Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres, and Sinbad. He returned to San Francisco in 2005 to win the competition again, becoming the only comedian in the 30-year history of the San Francisco International Comedy Competition to win it twice.
Other career highlights include getting such a great response on his first network TV appearance—the Martin Short Show–that they actually held the audience over and had him perform a second set, opening for the Counting Crows and Goo Goo Dolls for crowds of 8,000 and 10,000, playing the Pacific Amphitheatre with Bill Engvall and Craig Shoemaker, and taping his concert DVD “Inexplicable” in front of a sold-out crowd at the Crest Theater in Sacramento. He has also recently taped Live at Gotham” in New York and performed at the “Just For Laughs” Festival in Montreal and TBS’ “The Comedy Festival” in Las Vegas. He can be heard regularly on the KLOS 5:00 Funnies and XM Sirius satellite radio.
Friesen currently lives in S. Pasadena, CA, literally 20 minutes from Hollywood, but maintains a very normal home life, spending as much time as he can with his wife and kids. And despite not yet having that big Hollywood “break” to point to, Don’s career continues to thrive, keeping him in constant demand in comedy clubs, theaters, Las Vegas, cruise ships, and corporate events. Thousands of fans come to see him again and again (and drag their friends along with them,) because they know that he is always writing new material, and has an incredibly fresh, ¬energetic show that will have them crying every single time.
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