14 years following the release of cult favorite film “Mean Girls,” actor Daniel Franzese, who played the effervescent Damian, has undertaken the task of creating an original stand-up special. It was this endeavor that brought Franzese to the University of Montevallo on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
Although his passion in comedy is a longstanding one, writing an hour’s worth of material was no easy feat. Now, Franzese is determining what jokes will make the final cut by testing them out on college campuses across the country.
“The youth is the future. My fans now are going to be my fans forever,” said Franzese. “I wanted to see how the jokes worked, find new material, play around and have a good time. I’m forever this brain when it comes to pop culture, college-level pop culture.”
Franzese’s set began with an explanation behind his uniquely titled tour, “Yaaas, you’re amazing.” When it came to his attention that more often than not, when people nowadays use the adjective “amazing,” it’s to describe things Franzese considers banal, he was both frustrated and amused; but, Franzese sought to change the connotation of the word among his younger audience.
“When I knew I was doing a college tour and it was specifically designed to reach students, I wanted to take ‘amazing’ away from the vernacular of just throwing it around and, hopefully, let it resonate just how amazing they truly are.”
The rest of Franzese’s set material consisted of anecdotes related to the antics of his “very Italian” mother, his fear of where he’d be in a modern-day Pompeii scenario and the risks of wearing New York Yankees merchandise while knowing nothing about the game of baseball.
However, interspersed between light-hearted jokes and snarky audience interactions were poignant moments of genuine advice from Franzese relating to media representation, leaving a legacy, body positivity and sexuality.
“I was always afraid of letting people know who I really was — letting people know I was gay, or how I felt about certain things,” said Franzese, imparting upon the crowd the importance of being “loud and proud” about his sexuality, especially in today’s political climate. “As soon as I came out I felt the freedom to be able to talk about whatever, and now I can’t shut up.”
In an exercise of improv comedy, Franzese transitioned his set into a rapid-fire question and answer session with the audience. Beyond addressing his current relationships with past co-stars Lindsay Lohan, Lizzy Caplan and Rachel McAdams, Franzese divulged other inconsequential details like his current favorite song: Fergie’s national anthem, what kind of sandwich he would be: an Italian sub, and whether he’s purple or gold: “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m a purple.”
The performance concluded with an informal induction of the crowd into the “House of Glen Coco,” as Franzese led the crowd in reciting an oath to treat both themselves and others nothing short of amazing.
Despite the fact that, yes, he doesn’t even go here, Franzese’s parting words to the students in the audience were to reach out to him in times of need.
“I really am a person who likes to engage with my fans, so tweet me, DM me if you ever have a question you want to ask me,” said Franzese. “I may answer, I may not. I just like receiving questions and talking to people, receiving the love and reciprocating.”