Originally Published in The Columbia Chronicle in 2015
Nick Thune is a comedian from Seattle, Washington, where he was “born young” and “spent his early years growing up,” as he says. Since moving to Los Angeles a decade ago, 34-year-old Thune quickly made a name for himself as one of the top comedians in the thriving alternative comedy scene.
Since Sept. 27, the comedian has been taking his material on the road, with his “Midwest: Heartland Tour,” in which he will stop at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., performing five sets from Oct. 2–4.
“I just wanted to travel the Midwest and let them know that us people on the coast are thinking about them,” Thune said. “We know that the winter’s coming and they’re having a hard time, and we’re here for them if they need us. It gets hard being in 80 degree weather all day, so for me coming out there really grounds me a little bit.”
While other standups may have fallen in love with comedy doing open-mic nights or performing on stage, Thune caught the comedy bug through the Distributive Education Clubs of America organization at his high school.
“I transferred high schools and didn’t know anybody, and I somehow turned into the manager of the DECA student store, which meant that I came early every day and served bagels every morning,” Thune said. “I’m actually the guy that brought bagels to that high school, so any student that goes there should thank me for that.
Thune said he came up with the idea to run the DECA student store for class president, posting advertisements and posters around the hallways during one of the school’s student government elections.
“After doing that for two weeks and seeing that people thought it was funny, I went in and said at the assembly, when everyone gives speeches, ‘Let me do a commercial for the student store,’” Thune said. “So I did and got a lot of laughs out of it, which really encouraged me to get out there and explore these creative ideas and advertisements.”
That type of atypical path to comedy is evident in Thune’s standup routine, in which he incorporates witty one-liners with an original folk guitar “musical score.”
“When I started performing with my guitar, I found that I could tell my jokes in a sort of pieced-together monologue,” Thune said. “I thought that it would be interesting to take that angle and add a score to my monologue. That’s why I liked doing my comedy like that. I thought it kind of added a new element to it that I just really enjoyed.”
Although music-based comedy has not always gotten respect from older comedians, Thune said he is not affected by the lack of recognition from the elder standups.
“I feel like it’s not their business,” Thune said. “But if there are certain comedians out there with a chip on their shoulder and they want to get mad at someone for playing guitar, then it’s their problem. I guess it’s not the truest form of standup comedy, just like, ‘It’s just a man and a mic, dude; it’s just me up here, bro,’ but who cares?”
Thune said he tries to focus just on his comedy and tries not to let other people’s opinions get in the way of his work.
“I stopped looking for respect from anybody in comedy,” Thune said. “I think that looking for it just means that you’re just not worthy of respect if that’s what you’re going out there for. All of the jokes that I tell work with or without the guitar. Sometimes I’ll do it with and sometimes without, but that’s just because that’s the way I wanted to do it.”
Through social networking sites like Instagram and Twitter, Thune is able to interact with fans in a way that he thinks is important for many young comedians. In particular, he can interact with fans who may not have known he was performing in their town, he said.
“I’ll be promoting [a show] for months, but my Instagram is what got their attention,” Thune said. “To me that’s hilarious and amazing at the same time. A picture of my breakfast puts butts in seats.”
Thune, who welcomed a son with his wife Suzanne earlier this year, said his son has given him a new perspective on comedy and life in general, which has also influenced his upcoming standup routine.
“I’m working on a new hour and doing new material,” Thune said. “It’s going to be an introspective piece on my life as a father. My son has influenced every aspect of my entire life. It really made me care about everything more too. It just made me a better person. I think it’s just making my comedy better.”