When this reporter met with comedian Paco Romane over six years ago, he was thrilled to be in the hit show "Trailer Town." Now part of the "Killling My Lobster" comedy troupe, he is still as enthusiastic even if San Francisco is not New York or
Los Angeles. True the venues are slim and Romane must constantly work to secure steady work, but he has determination to persevere. "I love working with fellow comedians and I am always looking for opportunities to work with them, creating improv skits, shows and so on," said Romane. Always down-to-earth, Romane seems most at home in his Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.
Romane reiterated what he had told this reporter back in 2005 in an interview for a little feature in The Haight-Asbhury Beat newspaper (which is now on hiatus via Face Book). "I moved out here to San Francisco from Michigan in 1997," he said as he sipped on a cafe latte at the Blue Front Cafe on Haight Street on Dec 14. "Back in 1997 I ventured out here and got a job working for a local record company called Ubiquity Records," said Romane. "And, I also took a job at Booksmith here on Haight Street to bring in extra money."
Like that first interview meeting back in 2005, Romane's enthusiasm and gratitude for being able to do what he loves and for being in San Francisco has not diminished. Yet he was honest about the often lackluster aspects of being in the local scene. "I have done alright, not making much money. But as I said, I have always wanted to do this," Romane exclaimed. Growing up in Coldwater Michigan Romane always had an interest in comedy. Watching comedians on TV was more than a past-time, it was a life-line to a much larger world.
In college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, he majored in political science. Yet despite the intellectual intensity of poly sci, comedy was still in his heart. He noted that it is no surprise that some of the most profound political analysis is expressed on Comedy Central and the John Stuart Show. "Comedy, news and politics the hues seem to blend, but with comedy you get some truth," said Romane. "You can't write that stuff, he said, it is like the old saying the truth can be stranger than fiction." So mixing his two loves, comedy with politics is a natural. "Besides, said Romane, politics is simply show business for ugly people."
He noted that he did not want to look back on his life with regret. "Not to take a risk is another version of death," said Romane. And, he took a very scary risk of quiting his day job, upon the advice of his comic idol, Robbin Williams, who just happened to be in the audience one night.
Romane considered the opportunity of meeting Williams an honor as well as a sign, that he was on the right path. "Quiting my day jobs was scary but for me the fear of regret is more powerful, said Romane. Making strides on his own has had its unexpected benefits, like "The SF Bay Guardian voting me 'best comedian' in 2006," he said. And, of course meeting Williams.
Yet up to this point, the most memorable show he has done so far is "Trailer Town." "That was my first real professional acting job," said Romane. "The year and a half with that show was one of the best experiences of my life," said Romane. The people from "Trailer Town" he praises like a heart-felt litany, Debi Durst, Diane Amos (the lady from the Pine-sol commercials), Chris Meehan of the Meehan Brothers and Jim Cranna.
The experience of that show keeps him pressing on for more shows like it. Romaine spoke glowingly of his fellow cast members of "Trailer Town." As before when Romane and this reporter met for interview back in 2005, he considered "Trailer Town" the most wonderful and professional experience of his career, to date. The smile on his face and the spontaneous inflexions in his voice gave evidence that the experience is still alive and cherished.
Debi Durst was part of that "Trailer Town" experience. "Paco is amazing," she said to this reporter by phone, later that Wednesday. "It's like he came out of nowhere," said Durst. Because as she explained it, all the parts were pretty much written by Mary Jo Pritchard with the actors in mind."The Mayor (portrayed by Romane) was a key part and what was amazing was that Paco picked up the script and cold and just nailed the part," said Durst.
Durst, who along with husband Will Durst has established a career in theater. Both have become instrumental in the local comedy club scene. She believes that it is Romane's strong skills at improv that helped win him the role. "Improv is a good skill that helps actors to just run with it," she said. "In fact, improv helps people with just about anything in life," said Durst. She understands Romane's drive to keep going, "doing comedy is fun, but not easy, got to keep it going all the time," Durst said.
She too noted the limited venues and part of the work is looking for opportunities to create a venue. Creating a venue or an opportunity to work with other comedians/actors goes with the job, especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was the incentive behind The Romane Event. "Much of the work I do comes out of looking for a venue or an opportunity to work with others," said Romane.
Miriam Wild-Smith who works with Romane in "Killing My Lobster" agreed as she said, Paco is dedicated to the group." "He directed and helped produce shows like 'Preaches to The Choir.'" Wild-Smith also considers Romane a teacher as she said, "Paco is really funny, likes helping and is always eager to get us more involved in what we do," she said.
Romaine admitted that ego is involved in comedy and theater. But he insists that "everything I have done, I fell into it, even doing stand up," he said. He sees it all as a gift. And, Romane also confessed that getting a show up on stage is not easy, "Killing My Lobster" took about three years before it caught on with audiences. Whether it be ego or gift, Romane believes one should not give up on a heart-felt dream. The work at times might be difficult but for Romane it is a labor of love. Of which as he sees it is moving along with indications of success, like having some steady work in voice-overs, thanks in part very much to an agent like Dee Dee Shaughnessy at John Erlendson (JE) Talent agency in San Francisco.
"Yes, we have been representing Paco for the past six years and we love him," said Shaughnessy by phone. "Paco has a quick wit, has a good sense of being grounded in his work and does his work with lots of quality. He has an outstanding improv skills style," said Shaughnessy. She too mentioned that getting work in theater and related fields is not easy. Perhaps this is why Romane considers his accomplishments as very gratifying.
He also has much to smile about in his personal life as well. His college sweetheart, Mimi Wood has re-entered his life. They met while at Western Michigan University. Is marriage in their future? Hmm! "I always carried a torch for her." "We loved each other so much," he said. Romane is skeptical of marriage referring to it as a "fractured fairytale." Still, he is grateful that romance has been rekindled and that he is able to do the work that he loves. "Gratitude is my attitude, he said. And, "if you can't follow your dreams in San Francisco, where else can you go?" Sure he is open to New York or Los Angeles if the opportunity appears. But for now he is a fixture in the San Francisco comedy club scene.
Howard Meehan of the Meehan Brothers agreed as he noted of Romane, "he's original, gutsy and like Winston Churchill never ever gives up!" To learn more about Paco Romane and his comedy work visit his web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com