by Ryan Meehan
Nate Bargatze has had three late night appearances on Conan and had his own Comedy Central Presents special in 2011. He keeps his act fresh by performing every night in his home city of New York, but his resume is nothing to laugh at. Born and raised in Old Hickory, Tennessee, he’s been following in his father’s footsteps on the long road to entertainment. Bargatze’s 2007 television debut on “CMT Comedy Stage” catapulted him into the world of comedy. He has written for Spike TV’s Video Game Awards and received critical acclaim at the Montreal Comedy Festival. When he isn’t winning comedy festivals in both New York and Boston, or performing at Bonnaroo, he might just be performing for troops in Iraq, which he has done five times. And he’s our guest this week in 5 Questions.
FOH: You describe your father as a “world class magician” and you mention that it’s his fault your in the entertainment business. In all seriousness, is being around magic where you first discovered comedy? Who was the first comedian that you saw live that really blew you away and how were you able to use what you saw there to construct your own material so that you could get up the courage to take the stage?
NB: His comedy in his magic was the first comedy I saw. I did a couple shows with him too and was funny. Never thought about doing comedy then but just performing with my dad. First live comic was Jim Breuer at Zanies and I was blown away. Thought he was so funny and he left the stage through the crowd and high fived everyone and I thought that was awesome. I didn’t watch him and think I could do that though. Just enjoyed it. But I remember his set so I know it made an impression on me. There was not one thing to figure out how to write or get the courage. It just happened. I just made myself go. Moved to Chicago and started comedy. I was crazy nervous the first few years. And I’m still trying to figure out how to construct material.
FOH: What was your approach to your set the night that you did Comedy Central Presents? Did you have to make a lot of grandiose adjustments to some of the things that you were already saying in order to create a television-friendly set?
NB: I ran my set a ton and changed the order a few times. I knew what I wanted to end on but just putting the rest in order. Asked friends what they thought and then don’t listen to them. Luckily my material was pretty much good to go on TV.. Just had to make sure I could say like Wal-mart or product stuff. I changed a word the night before for my set and just said it a bunch to myself and said the joke during the mic check just to make sure I had it.
FOH: Do certain comics within the industry view Bonnaroo as an SXSW type of festival where they can expose their comedy to a whole different type of audience? And do you think it’s fair that a lot of the comedians who perform there are classified as “alternative comedians”? Is that term valid in any sense at all?
NB: Maybe. I didn’t think of it like that. I was just excited to get to perform there. I don’t think its fair to think they are alternative. I don’t think they are all “alternative”. I don’t think the crowd thinks that. Maybe we just think that. I don’t consider myself one and not sure if anyone does or cares but no comic should think they are alternative or not alternative. Every comic should be able to perform in front of every audience. I know there is an alternative scene and a club scene and the best thing to do as a comic is play both. Don’t try to get labeled.
FOH: Which comedian have you enjoyed working with the most? What was it about working with them that made you feel so comfortable?
NB: Big names would be Bob Saget. He is very nice and doesn’t make you feel uneasy to be in the green room. Greg Behrendt is another one. Kevin Pollack was great too. Marc Maron, Rich Vos, Judah Friedlander and Colin Quinn also. I know sometimes famous guys just want to be left alone and I get that. The main thing for me is if someone just doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable and talks to you like you are a comic. Even if they don’t want to talk just don’t be awful and mean.
FOH: What is the best experience that you have had while touring the country as a comedian? The worst?
NB: The best was going to Iraq. To perform for the troops and go to apart of the world that most will not get to see. The worst is being alone in a town where you don’t have a car and staying in a comedy condo with nothing to do and eating at gas stations. Usually having to cross a interstate to eat a old hot dog.
FOH: What’s next for Nate Bargatze in the twelve months to come? Any big plans?
NB: Just had a baby so that will make things crazy. Also have a cd coming out Sept 18th called “Yelled at by a Clown”. Hopefully doing some late night spots and gaining more fans and start touring more and working on a new hour.
Official Website: Natebargatze.com
Nate on Twitter: @natebargatze
Nate on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nate-Bargatze-Fan-Page/127380467315420
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