Vulgar display of (em)power

Comedian Darren Frost found his true strength when he started doing things on his own terms

In the stand-up comedy world – just like anywhere else – “bombing” is generally a bad thing. 

Comics don’t want to bomb, because a) it sucks and b) it sucks. But, every good comedian will tell you, bombing is an absolutely necessary part of the comedic process. Canadian comic Darren Frost might be the purest example of that fact.

Born in Brantford, Ontario, Frost started doing stand-up in 1992. For his first five years – what he describes as his “happy clappy fun boy years” – he was a character comic with the catchphrase “Good for me.” That’s a far cry from the raging, “tear it all down”, “too soon, too bad” comedian he is now.  

“Bombing sucks, but what sucks even more is being in a funny monkey suit and bombing in minute one and you still got 30 minutes to go,” Frost, 42, says of his mid-‘90s act.

“You’re wearing a monkey suit and there’s nowhere to go. All of a sudden someone yells ‘faggot’ at me, which happened a lot back then. You can’t go ‘Whoa, you better respect what I do. I’m a human.’ No, I was a monkey in an outfit. That’s how I felt.  

“At that moment I said to myself, ‘I don’t have a problem bombing, but I’m going to bomb with what I want to do.’ That’s less soul-destroying than bombing with an act that I thought an audience might want to see.” 

Frost has paid a price for being true to himself. His vulgar, nothing’s sacred and almost always angry approach has resulted in hecklers, physical assaults from audience members, banishment from certain clubs and even hate from fellow comics.

But the biggest trouble stemming from Frost’s politically incorrect material is the misconception that he’s incapable of being clean. 

“That drives me nuts,” Frost says. “I don’t sit around saying ‘I’ve got to write a one-armed midget joke today.’ I write jokes, period. Some are clean.

“I just did the Halifax Comedy Festival and killed. One newspaper said I was one of the best comics on that gala, but do you think that will matter in my career? No, because people go ‘Darren Frost is an angry troll. He’s the devil.’ That’s how the industry has pegged me. It doesn’t matter if I go up on a CBC show and kill harder than all the clean comics, at the end of the day the dogma is that I am a dirty comic.”

Frost admits he’s partially responsible for that belief. For the past couple years, he’s been on the road with Canadian comic legend and former Winnipegger Kenny Robinson, billing their gruesome twosome tour as Rank and Vile. 

“I have to be the devil now,” Frost, who recently released his fourth DVD, titled Emotional Terrorism, says.

“I’ve had to be that (self-labeled X-rated comic). I’ve had to be the one that says ‘Hey, if you’re offended, don’t come to the show.’ 

“I’m not one of these comics that likes to punk an audience. I’m one of the only guys in this country that makes it mandatory at venues that there’s warning signs up at the entrance. I don’t want people coming in thinking it’s just Seinfeld with a few ‘fucks’.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 2, 2013)

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