Creole Comic

The gig economy has skyrocketed in recent years, offering new, nontraditional work opportunities across industries across the country. More than 57 million Americans who work freelance jobs contribute nearly $1.4 trillion to the economy every year, according to a study from Upwork and the Freelancers Union. And by 2020, Intuit projected that 43 percent of the U.S.workforce will be represented by gig economy jobs.

Originally coined in the 1920s by jazz musicians, a gig meant a job — albeit a temporary one. It meant money.

Anthony Frederick is a native New Orleanian and knows about booking gigs. After high school he started modeling then turned to theater, landing the role of Jack in an Actors’ Equity production of Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo" in 1995. From there, he’s had some sweet gigs in film and television. 

Often playing the role of a U. S. Marshall, detective or security guard, he’s appeared in such productions as "Queen’s Sugar," "NCIS: New Orleans" and "Treme." Last week, he filmed a Popeye’s commercial operating a jackhammer.

But it is perhaps as a stand-up comic where he truly shines. Frederick has won multiple competitions and is considered one of the top five funniest people in the Gulf South – winning Gulf South's Funniest Person in 2010, 2012, 2015 and placing second in 2011 and 2013. He placed third in Louisiana's Funniest Person 2011 at Boomtown Casino. 

Frederick says he became interested in stand-up at an early age at his grandmother’s knee.

“She’d sit for my parents and I'd watch 'An Evening at the Improv' with her,” he said. I'd also sneak in and listen to my mom's Richard Pryor albums.”

Frederick says he never seemed to find the time for stand-up. However, after Hurricane Katrina he lost his business and his house and suddenly found himself asking, “How bad can it hurt to try?”

“I was in L.A. at a producer’s house and he had an informal showcase,” he says. “So I decided to do five minutes and people loved it. I realized even if I wasn’t a real stand-up comic I was an actor so I could act like one.”

New Orleans isn’t really a comedy friendly town, but Frederick says he can often find open mics at a variety of clubs. For a while, he emceed a comedy night at his father’s sports bar, Bullet’s. It was during this time he honed his craft.

Frederick’s material is observational comedy and he admits it’s a bit blue.

“Tony is unfiltered and unapologetic, which in my opinion makes the best comedians, because they come from a place of honesty and truth,” says friend, actor and local filmmaker Terence Rosemore. “Some of the best comedians worked from there: Pryor, Carlin and Chappelle to name a few.”  

Frederick says he likes comedy because there is no fourth wall and he can interact directly with the audience.

“And you get to be writer, director and performer,” he says. “You get to do it your way without anyone yelling, ‘Cut.’ I guess I’ll stick with it because every time I try to quit, another gig turns up.”




You can see Anthony Frederick on July 20 at Tuskers Tavern in Mobile, Alabama and Aug. 9 at Happy’s in Baton Rouge.



Categories: Labors of Love