A native of Michigan, Romane arrived in San Francisco back in 1997 and felt right at home. “Things have been really good for me here, I just count my blessings he said.” While setting down some roots in a place that for many is pretty transient, Romane wasted no time getting acquainted with San Francisco’s comedy club circles.
He explained, I originally planned on being a DJ and was into music. But when I got the chance to attend an ‘open mic’ night, I was hooked. Cobb’s Comedy Club, the Make-Out Room, Sketch Fest, SF Fringe Festival, you name it, anywhere in the City or the Bay Area where there is comedy stand up or routines, he has been there. “I can’t say enough good about Paco,” said fellow comedian Mary Jo Pritchard. She is a veteran of the comedy circuit in San Francisco. She at one time used to do the scheduling of acts for the now legendary Holy City Zoo. Pritchard chimed in with others that know Paco about his releasing a recording of his routine. “Yes, it’s about time, absolutely! Paco should have popped this out years ago.”
Yet, as Romane said, “I didn’t feel ready, even when people after a show would ask me if I had a CD out. Now, I am ready and I am so excited to get this recording out there.” Some of it has to do with the fact that the past 17 years have gone by so quickly. One of the highlights of his career so far, was being cast in the hit comedy “Trailer Town” with Diane Amos of “Pine-Sol lady” fame.
Pritchard understands his sense of accomplishment and esteem with that show. “I was there when Paco auditioned for the part in ‘Trailer Town and he filled it, wonderfully,” she said. “He was a dream to work with on that show.” And, like his fellow-cast member Diane Amos, who has established herself in commercials, she hopes the releasing of Paco’s CD will open new doors for him, specifically TV commercials and voice-overs.
Pritchard noted, “I have been around a long time, especially here in the local comedy scene (at Holy City Zoo and other places) and I have seen them all, Robin Williams among them; and Paco is a hidden gem. He has worked so hard to develop his talent, he’s got a gift,” she said.
“I am really proud of him,” said Todd Holm, a fellow native of Romane’s home state of Michigan. “Last year, said Holm, he was out here visiting and we drove from Michigan to San Francisco. Along the way we stopped at comedy clubs and venues and after Paco would perform, people would say, ‘do you got a CD?’ I have watched Paco grow so much over the 20 years I have known him.”
“He started out in music, said Holm (aiming to be a DJ) yet when he turned to comedy, it lead him on path that has been such a journey.” “Paco can tell a joke in rythmic style and his delivery really makes him a performer.” “Everything is timing, just like a musician,” he added. Like Pritchard and others who talked about Romane, he said “I believe Paco is ready. He has the skills, the abilities, said Holm, the CD is one of those important steps forward.”
“I am surprised he did not do it sooner,” said Jeff Zamaria. Zamaria is coordinator and sound mixer at Doc’s Lab where Romane will be performing/making his CD on March 11. “It’s the same exact room, (seats about 80 people) even though it is not the Purple Onion any more,” said Zamaria. Like many venerable performance spaces in the City, the availability of an affordable venue is not easy. The Purple Onion in San Francisco’s North Beach closed in 2012. A sign of the changing times, with real estate values going sky high? Perhaps. But like Zamaria said, “it is really easy to record audio in a venue spot like Doc’s. I am really honored to help, he said, because the space is really historic, it is were so many got their start.” “The Smother’s Brothers, Woody Allen, Richard Pryor and Bob Newhart just to name a few.”
As someone who has tried his skills at stand up comedy, Zamaria knows how difficult live-performance can be. He now prefers to be behind the scenes helping performers rather than being on stage. It is very competitive and to make a living at it, especially in San Francisco is hard. “I met Paco at The Punchline over four years ago and I used to hang out with him while he was performing in ‘Killing My Lobster.’ Paco’s been around so long and so when he approached me with the idea of doing a CD, I said, Let’s do it!”
All three friends – Pritchard, Holm and Zamaria noted leaving the familiar comfort zone of San Francisco will be a challenge for Romane. “I have been all over the country and of all the places San Francisco is the nicest,” said Zamaria. “It is rare to see comics be happy for one another while they’re up there on stage. Paco is really friendly, approachable and easy to work with. And, the comedy scene in San Francisco is really friendly, not like New York City or other places.” And, as he noted, “San Francisco has a decent scene for casting (in local productions and such), but LA and New York is more the place.”
Meanwhile, Romane has been working with Pritchard and others on the possibility of a talk show. “Paco is very inventive, she said, he was a driving force behind ‘Killing My Lobster’ and of course his ‘Romane Event’ if Paco is not able to find a part or a gig, he makes one.”
Even though he has the support and admiration of friends, Paco is both excited and anxious at the same time. “I know what it is like to lose a job, that’s happened to me, he said. In fact, it was while he was working at The Booksmith, shortly after he arrived in the Haight-Ashbury that he met Robin Williams. “Robin told me if comedy is what I love to do, then I should aim for it full time.” Interestingly, while Romane says he lost his job because he was chatty with a celebrity customer, his boss at the bookstore was among the first in the audience to see him in ‘Trailer Town.’ Even when things get messy or unpleasant, Romane manages to turn it around and as Holm said, Paco “hits the ground running.”
Part of the dilemma for Romane is leaving the comfort of San Francisco. “This is my home, I love it here, Romane said. I know things have changed (especially since the dot com boom) but this is still such a beautiful city and the people are unique; like no where else I know.” “I am amazed I am still here, yet if I leave will I be able to come back?”
Leaving is not an easy decision, especially now as San Francisco continues to be among the most coveted places to live. His time in San Francisco has been fun. But Romane believes the venture into television, commercials and voice-overs is just what he needs to move forward with his career. “I have paid my dues, he said, learned what I needed to learn, got what I needed. Ideally if I could land a job as a comedy script writer for TV that would be a dream come true.”
For more information about Paco Romane visit his web page. And, to purchase tickets for his upcoming performance which will be recorded live on March 11 for his CD, visit the calendar/events page at Doc’s Lab web site