“If at the end of my set you hate me, I accomplished something.”
Anyone who’s watched Frandu perform at an open-mic in Madison, or had a random conversation with him while out drinking downtown, knows that the comedian/ranter/raconteur’s worldview is not neat and tidy. The Colombia-born, late-60s, diminutive dude talks about his life with a mix of transcendental acceptance and loopy hostility.
Madison-based filmmakers Will Black, Benjamin Foster, and Eric Schirtzinger unpack some of these contradictions in a new 9-minute documentary short simply titled Frandu. Foster and Schirtzinger do a lot of commercial work for business clients in addition to making films for fun, but decided to profile Frandu after Black saw him perform a few times.
“I originally got his number to make some weird video that he would star in,” Black says. “But then I found out he has dying and had all this crazy shit go down, so then I thought that he should have a mini-doc about him and just have him talk about his life.”
Frandu, born Francisco Rodriguez, is very open and public about the fact that he’s been fighting prostate cancer for many years and, not long after his diagnosis, lost his job and got served with divorce papers. In the mini-doc, he takes that rock bottom as a starting point for how he turned to comedy. He sits in a park and lays out some of his crazy life story and the at once exuberant and confrontational nature of his comedy. “If at the end of my set you hate me, I accomplished something,” he says at one point. We also see him walking down State Street, performing at the Comedy Club on State, and charming his way into a free cup of coffee.
The mini-doc doesn’t get into Frandu’s pre-Madison days as a dancer and performance artist in New York City—for that, definitely read Chris Lay’s 2015 profile for Tone Madison. Rather than a deep dive, it’s more of a fond, antic snapshot of, well, what it’s like to have a talk with Frandu.