Growing up in a region where some of the greatest comedic minds are listed as their home address, it’s not uncommon for a child to answer “Stand-Up Comedian” when a teacher asks what their dream job would be. As a child in grammar school, Frankie Marcos never wanted to be the smartest person in math, nor win the school spelling bee. There was only one goal that he had in mind, to be the funniest kid in school and he would not stop until his goal was met. His humor and perseverance would have him in deep trouble at times, but would also win him the awards of “Most Hilarious” in middle school and “Most Funny” in high school, which became the necessary forms of confidence needed to pursue his ultimate goal.
Frankie started performing stand-up comedy while in his hometown of San Jose, California. Now based in Los Angeles, Frankie is one of the most recognizable comedians on the west coast and is featured in comedy clubs across the country. The Comedy Store in Hollywood, Punchline San Francisco, Comic Strip NYC, to name a few. Frankie has worked with Taylor Tomlinson, Michael Che, Nicole Byer, Bobby Lee, and more. In 2017 he was the runner-up for the annual Rooster T Feathers Comedy Competition out of 100 Bay Area comedians. In 2019, he placed 6th overall in the SF International comedy competition out of 32 comedians worldwide.
While getting his boyhood dream back on track after a rough pandemic, Frankie was able to find time to talk about the funny business with WOTL’s Tyson Paul. Marcos shares his thoughts on his COVID-19 life, being a comic that focuses on his health & fitness, and how he’s getting back into the swing of things.
Hey Frankie, have you seen anything funny lately?
I have seen some funny things recently. I was walking with a friend who was wearing a hat. A gust of wind knocked it off while we were passing an old-looking dude who saw the hat fly off. He looked directly at her, started laughing hysterically about 3 feet away from her face, revealing his toothless mouth. All gums and pure joy.
Tell me about one of your earliest memories of comedy as a genre?
My earliest memories of comedy always start with Chris Farley. I used to watch Tommy Boy and Black Sheep over and over. I would watch those films so much, my friends would yell at me for rewinding my favorite scenes. (Laughs)
What comedian or comedic personality would you say most inspired you at the beginning of your career?
Biggest comedic inspiration for comedy was Farley, but if we’re talking standup I would go with Brian Regan.
For many decades, the Bay Area has been a legendary landmark for comedy. How aware are you of the comedic history in your region and give us a glimpse of the comedic differences that you will find in different areas of Northern California?
As far as the rich getting paid in drink tickets history, that is Bay Area comedy, I’m familiar with some of the big names that made it in the industry. Robin Williams, Ali Wong, Dana Carvey, and Anjelah Johnson. That’s just a few. I was in the San Francisco International Comedy Competition in 2019. Placing 6th out of 32 comedians. Ellen DeGeneres, Robin Williams, and Kevin Hart are a few names that have been in the competition in past years. California is different depending on where you perform. If you’re a minority in the Redding area, you might feel uncomfortable. If you’re a minority performing in San Francisco, you talking about issues with white people will be praised and progressive. Sacramento is a neutral area in regard to the left and the right of politics. It’s a diverse town with guns and conservative roots. They’re down with almost any material. Some of the friendliest comics I’ve ever met have started comedy in Sacramento. Los Angeles gives you the most opportunities to work around, and with the best talent in the world. In exchange for little to no pay in stand up. It’s still an incredible place to network, grow as a comic, and get motivated.
If you had to select one specific moment that let you know that you were born to be a professional comedian, when would it be?
I knew I was going to be a comedian for the rest of my life in elementary school. Comedy and basketball were all I cared about, and all I was good at. Besides losing jackets and backpacks, my ADHD made me the KING of forgetting things. I was crowned most hilarious in middle school, and most funny in High School.
Your sets are definitely pure entertainment for anyone who comes out to see you live. It’s even gotten to the point where you wonder if people are laughing with you or at you. What do you think makes you so relatable with audiences while you’re on stage?
I love all styles of stand-up that are executed well, but I like watching comedians PERFORM their jokes the best. Comics like Sebastian Maniscalco, Brian Regan, Dave Chapelle, etc. I try to do the same and share my energy with audiences. I know when they’re laughing with me, versus laughing at me. I create all those moments strategically. They’re both arts. I’m relatable on stage because I make my jokes easy to understand. If you don’t relate to the experience or perspective, you can still laugh at the absurdity of it. I’m mastering the goofy style.
What are some of your favorite cities and comedy clubs to perform in?
My favorite club is the San Jose Improv. It’s a beautiful staple in my hometown. So many legends have been there. It always feels like home, I’m treated like a superstar, and the crowds back home are down with almost any content. They’re not a sensitive bunch. The Punchline San Francisco is a magical club as well with the perfect amount of intimacy, and the ambiance is pure comedy. You KNOW you’re getting ready to laugh with everyone in the room, the moment you arrive at the door. There’s so many incredible places. I even performed for kids in Juvenile Hall in San Jose. They loved it. They had a bunch of follow up questions like, “do you have more jokes” and “how many thotties you got?”
What is the most memorable response that someone has ever yelled out to you while on stage?
The most memorable heckle while on stage was during a joke where I say, “I didn’t know I was irresistible.” A woman yelled out, “You’re NOT!”
She was obviously a sad dry vagina that wanted to throw salt on newly acquired confidence.
You’re probably one of the fittest comedians in comedy. Are you a firm believer that good shape leads to a good stage presence?
I absolutely believe working out/good health will help in comedy. The legend Patrice O’ Neil would wanna slap me with a frozen catfish for saying this, but he didn’t live a long life due to his health. No disrespect to one of the greatest of all time. He said, “if you’re doing stand up with integrity, you’re an idiot.” I know what he means. The less control you have over your decisions, the more insecurities you have, the more bitter you are, the more material you have. But you don’t have to be any of those things to be a great comic. John Mulaney, Jerry Seinfeld, and Brian Regan are all great examples of that. Comedy is a rough business, and you HAVE to be a high achiever every day if you want to make it. Traveling all the time, writing, dealing with politics, being quick-witted, giving your sharpest self on- stage for an hour, dealing with hecklers, late nights, early mornings to promote, social media, networking, booking, planning, etc. ALL things that require your best self to be fully present, and you need energy. Working out helped me manage all of these things better. It made me way more consistent, goal-driven, and focused.
While many comedy veterans consider social media cancer in stand-up comedy, you actually embraced the new form of comedic entertainment and made it work to your benefit. What did you know that others didn’t?
Anyone who says social media is bad for comedy or life, either doesn’t know how to use it, or they’re dumb for not using it.
It CAN be a terrible distraction, a self-destructive tool that chips away at self-esteem, and a huge waste of time if you ALLOW it.
If you know how to use it, it can bring you limitless opportunities, money, sponsorships, brand deals, affiliate marketing, marketing campaigns, a girlfriend, boyfriend, side chick, a new barber, mechanic, new favorite restaurant, new fans, bookings, and SO much more.
I’m still learning new strategies all the time, but I knew the power of social media early on, and I tried learning how to leverage it for the good, as opposed to just scrolling as most people do.
What made you decide to still make the move to Los Angeles in the middle of the pandemic?
A lot of people wonder why I still moved to Los Angeles in the middle of the pandemic. I had made it a goal before the pandemic, and I wanted to stick with it. We were all going to have to be in quarantine, so why not do so in a place with beautiful scenery, people, and cheaper rent than the Bay Area. I wanted to become familiar with the area, start to network with the LA talent, and look for places to run my own shows. That way when things did open, I was the first in line to make moves. I always find opportunities in bad situations. LA was no different.
Which one would you rather prefer in your career, creating the perfect joke for the stage or creating a great sketch for social media?
I would much rather create the perfect joke for the stage over the perfect sketch on social media. You can use so many different formulas, trends, collabs, production values, and “cheat codes” with sketches. It’s much harder to craft a great bit.
What was your comedic writing process like during the pandemic?
The writing was a lot harder during the pandemic. Normally we have the entire slab of life to cut meat from, and craft into great material for the stage. During quarantine, we were all limited to leftover McDonald’s fries to prepare something incredible for the chef and the judges.
It was substantially harder, but there was WAY more TIME at home to sit down and get into a flow state while writing.
Do you feel that comedy clubs should be able to reopen with guests mandated to wear facemasks and social distance? Possibly recommending that comedians take the COVID-19 vaccine?
I do feel clubs are deserving of reopening, which is currently happening now. I don’t support being reckless about COVID because it’s still here, but the future’s looking bright when it comes to comedy venues.
Do you think comedians are at the point now where they’re willing to risk their health for finance by performing live shows again?
There are definitely comics willing to risk their health for stage time. Most of us are vaxed now though.
Who has been your favorite comedian to share the stage with throughout your comedy career?
The favorite comic I’ve worked with so far is Taylor Tomlinson. She’s so young and talented. I look at her “Quarter Life Crisis” special as a target for standard. I have a ways to go, but it’s motivation.
Popularity never comes without doubters and naysayers. You have built an impressive following on social media, but some comedy enthusiasts and trollers would consider you a gimmick and not your authentic personality. Has the negativity ever affected you and how have you managed to find positivity to rise above it all?
These are great questions.
Trolls are never successful. The ones that are, are only successful in the eyes of other trolls.
It’s a petty pyramid scheme. Trolls don’t even know the person they’re trolling. So if they see me or anyone else online, as “fake” or not authentic, they have no idea what social media is. Each platform has a language you have to speak. Different platforms are used to magnify certain pieces of a person as a whole. For me, Instagram is ego, sexy, and cool. Facebook is soulful, transparent, and behind the scenes. YouTube is where I put my best productions like it’s TV. My podcast is the deepest you can get to know me, without meeting me. The stage is an expression of who I am, my perspective, and me just saying funny things. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not. Ultimately, I’m always just trying to make art. I almost NEVER engage with trolls, because I’m so focused on my goals. I don’t have enough time in a day to engage with losers.
Every comedian feels their region of comedy is the best type of comedy in the entire world. Tell me why you feel that your region of comedy is the best?
(Laughs) this is mostly true. However, for stand-up, I think New York is the best. I consider California second as far as the mecca. New York has the toughest, most honest crowds out there. There are no participation trophies on the East Coast. New York is like having the best trainer in the world. It will whoop your ass until you fight back, and if you stay, you’ll become a beast.
What are some of your thoughts on the future of comedy?
I think stand-up will stay for as long as the world lasts. There may be more virtual aspects added, but live comedy is the best. People want to come together and laugh. We’ll be just fine.
If you could change one thing in the world of comedy, what would it be?
If I could change one thing in the world of comedy, it would be creating MORE opportunities that make BETTER money and get exposure to comics that deserve it. (I’m working on it)
Are you currently working on developing a half-hour or hour-long comedy special and if so, what would you call it?
Yes, I’m working on a special. Working at mastering the art of revising first, which is what will put me in a place where I really want to be in comedy. My first special will possibly be called, “Super Saiyan Mijo.” I feel like a funny superhero every day, hence the title.
If you could choose 1 comedy club and choose 3 comedians to perform with on your perfect comedy show, where would it be and who would it be with?
If I could create a perfect comedy show, it would be Dave Chappelle, Taylor Tomlinson, Bill Burr, and myself at the San Jose Improv.
What’s next for Frankie Marcos?
Next up is doing as many shows as I can while writing, working on myself, and creating opportunities. I’m about to film for a Bay Area documentary in a couple of weeks. I can’t say too much, but I will be alongside Steph Curry, Saweetie, and Tom Brady.
I’ll be releasing new episodes of my “Go Frank Yourself Show” podcast every week, shooting sketches, and doing shows as much as I can.
Why should people always find a reason to laugh at life?
People should always find a reason to laugh at life because you’ll go insane if you don’t. You can laugh it off, or die of stress. Pick one.
Watch Frankie Marcos in the YouTube comedy sketch “BROVID-19” w/ Jordan Cerminara
Follow Frankie Marcos’ comedic journey on these forms of social media:
Official Website: www.gofrankyourself.com