Biography (based on a true story)…
I met Fred aboard the Norwegian Star for his first ever cruise ship engagement. He was the featured comedian. Fred wasn’t as good looking then. He had a mullet. REALLY. But he carried it off well.
On most cruises, the comedian is sent off to perform the first evening, sacrificed at the alter of weary travelers whose sense of humor has been stripped from them after cramped airline flights, lost luggage, Houston humidity and the boarding process. Fred got lucky. None of us had any clue who he was, so we didn’t want to risk starting the cruise off badly by putting somebody lame on. Instead, we scheduled Fred for Day Five and allowed him to wander around the ship, lost, the entire week.
Fred isn’t your typical comedian. If you have spent any time with your merely average stand-up comedian, you’re dealing with somebody who is always performing, always looking to get a rise out of you, begging for your attention and acceptance. Fred lays low. Fred is confident and relaxed. For five days, Fred gave us no idea what to expect. We were terrified. Fred was serious. Fred was quiet. Fred didn’t seem right.
Based on this week of observation, I skipped Fred’s show. I took a nap instead. Between shows, I grabbed a bite in the crew mess. The staff couldn’t stop talking about Fred. He was hilarious. Amazing. They couldn’t wait to see him again.
Huh? Really? REALLY. I caught the second show. I laughed so much it hurt. My face cramped from the overuse of my smile muscles. And you need to know something else. Yes, he cut off the mullet, but that’s not what I’m talking about…
Fred’s show is clean. REALLY. Count all the truly funny, CLEAN comedians you know. Use all your fingers and toes. Did you get past the first hand? Didn’t think so…
So who IS Fred Klett? Well, I know a few things, but I couldn’t piece together a life story. Here’s what I know…
* Fred is one of ten children. Ten. REALLY.
* Fred can’t slam a basketball, but he’s a better basketball player than I am. I don’t think that’s a compliment.
* Fred can whip up one great pot of Vindaloo.
* Fred has an amazing wife, Nance, who has more patience than any one woman I have ever known.
* Fred is FUNNY. If you haven’t caught his act, you should.
There is probably more to say, but this should get you by for a while. When I think of something else interesting to say, you will probably see it here.
– Joe Brookhouse
March 18, 2004
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Comedy Is True Freedom
In a time of public anger and financial despair, when even hope can be politically dangerous, only humor offers a safe and comforting haven.
Humor is an escape, however brief, from so many social pressures. A sanctuary to where the purest form of emotional expression, laughter, can blossom.
Perhaps some forms of humor come at a price, when they make fun at the expense of someone else. But when we can laugh at our commonality, at the simple and universal experiences that we as people can all share, this is equality and liberation of our spirit.
Therefore, with so many selfish interests focused on shaping opinions, it is refreshing to savor a talent who speaks with a voice meant only to entertain. A voice that proclaims no dogma, only hilarity. This voice takes shape in the form of a popular entertainer, the Milwaukee-based stand-up comedian Fred Klett.
Fred Klett is famous for and critically acclaimed because of his clean humor. It is not puritan or politically sanitized, just honest and from common experiences that do not shock an audience into laughing. There is no sex, no drug culture, and no raunchy innuendo for the sake of a cheap laugh. There is no need for dirty content in his repertoire of wit. Audience members do not sit there thinking how wholesome Fred Klett is, they just laugh and enjoy the performance. The added amazement and satisfaction afterwards is the genuinely of his humor.
This talent has made Fred Klett one of the the funniest comics around. He has headlined at Comedy Clubs across the country and been featured on Cruise Ships around the world. His broadcast credits include appearances on NBC’s Friday Night Videos, A&E’s Comedy On the Road, the Showtime Comedy Club Network, and numerous national radio shows.
While Fred Klett is not a household name, his popular routines have inspired several product lines and been showcased in audio CDs and a live DVD. Fans from as far away as Japan have even begun illustrating a manga comic book based on his comedic treasury.
When asked why comedy is his chosen profession Fred Klett simply replies, “I like to make people laugh HARD!” If he were a doctor, his prescription would be for a good laugh. Fortunately as a comedian, this is a soul healing medicine that Fred Klett is proficient at dispensing.
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MILWAUKEEAN PLAYS OFF HIS FOREIGNER STATUS
Are any of you people from Milwaukee?” an emcee asked when HBO was taping one of its “One Night Stand” programs at the Vic Theatre Last December. “Well, for any one of you that is, this next guy’s a local guy… Fred Klett.”
“And, of course, the crowd kinda grumbles a little,” Klett remembers now of the night when he was one of the warmup comedy acts. But that’s the kind of response you’d expect, seeing as though Chicago and Milwaukee have a hate-hate relationship going. A setup like that isn’t exactly the best way for a comic to get a crowd on his side.
But Klett, forged ahead that night to turn his usual high-energy performance. And Klett says that he wants Chicago crowds to know that he’s a Milwaukeean (Milwaukeeite? Milwakeer?), because he can work that to his advantage.
“In comedy,” says Klett, “you usually have something to play off of, it just makes it easier to get going. Chicago does react to Milwaukee. You get the usual people calling out ‘cheesehead’ and ‘yah-dere-hey.’ It just gives you something to play off of.”
Klett, who calls Chicago “one of my favorite cities to play,” says that he doesn’t have any real problems in Chicago, because the crowds are paying to hear jokes, and it doesn’t matter where the person who tells them hails from.
“If you make them laugh, they laugh,” Klett says. “They don’t say, ‘Well we’re not gonna laugh ’cause this guy’s from Milwaukee. Even if he’s funny, let’s just not laugh.’ They don’t do that.”
He started in comedy five years ago by doing open-mike amateur night shows in Milwaukee. In addition to playing some regional cable television programs, Klett has been featured on Showtime’s “Comedy club Network.”