By Jeff Favre
It’s not unusual for Toluca Lake residents to approach Fritz Coleman when he’s shopping or grabbing a bite to eat. After all, 27 years of weather forecasting for NBC affiliate Channel 4 has made him a celebrity.
But Coleman’s fans treat him a bit differently than they would, say, Tom Cruise.
“I’ll have elderly ladies approach me sand say, ‘I’ve been a fan for 20 years, but please don’t wear that tie you did yesterday because it didn’t flatter your eyes,’” Coleman explained. “They treat me like a family member because I’ve been in their homes for so many years.”
But if you haven’t yet run into the city’s most popular weatherman, you are in luck.
On the Fritz—an Evening with Fritz Coleman, appearing Aug. 19-22 at North Hollywood’s El Portal, is a blend of Coleman’s stand-up comedy material with insight into the wacky world of weather—followed by a Q&A segment with the audience.
And Coleman is offering a “2-for-1” ticket deal to Tolucan residents, which seems like the right move for the honorary mayor of Toluca Lake.
“I’ve been the honorary mayor for about 15 years,” said Coleman, while seated at a café on Riverside Drive. “It stemmed from my community outreach and doing some fundraising for the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce. It’s great because I have no political responsibilities. My job is to light the Village Christmas Tree for the annual Toluca Lake Holiday Open House, which is a lot of fun.”
A nearby resident for about 15 years, Coleman moved to the area to be close to his second home, NBC Studios in Burbank.
“My greatest triumphs came in that building,” he said. “I did eight performances on the original Johnny Carson stage. And when I was doing the 11 o’clock news, I would go in there and just walk on the empty stage and take in the vibe. Now there are rumors that we may be moving to the Universal lot or to somewhere else, and that’s sad.”
Another of Coleman’s favorite landmarks is the El Portal, which was built in 1926. He has long desired to have a one-man show at the venue, but his busy schedule hasn’t permitted it until now.
“The El Portal was a great vaudeville stage,” Coleman said. “Bob Hope and Red Buttons performed there. It’s such a great space.”
Those who only know Coleman as a weatherman will get a chance to see the skills he has honed as a comedian and playwright. With On the Fritz, he delves into childhood memories, getting older, and, of course, the weather.
And if anyone has a suggestion about what tie Coleman should wear, he will be happy to take suggestions.
“On the Fritz—an Evening with Fritz Coleman,” is running Aug. 19-21 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 22 at 2 p.m., at the El Portal, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Tickets are $35 – $45. For tickets call 818-508-4200, 866-811-4111, or order online at www.elportaltheatre.com.