by Ryan Meehan
With just under a decade into stand up, Nick Guerra has won over crowds from all walks of life. Whether it is performing from clubs to colleges to any place with a stage, Nick has shown that dedication and continuous work has paid off. His style balances all topics. Current events, relationship humor, and personal stories have become his arsenal when given a microphone. Many times the crowds never knew what to expect with Nick but were rarely disappointed. Nick was a writer, asst. director, actor and story producer for the Mun 2 reality show “Pitbull’s La Esquina” (2nd season), performed on Comedy Central’s “Gabriel Iglesias Stand Up Revolution” (2nd season) and Nuvo TV’s “Stand Up & Deliver” (2nd season). He was most recently seen as a semifinalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: You were in Billings, Montana not too long ago…How did those shows go? What do you do in a place like Billings during the day of your shows? Did you go hiking at all?
NG: Billings was great! A friend of mine who lives out in LA is from Billings, and he’s the one that has booked comedians to perform there for the past 7 years. He even hosts an annual comedy festival/contest that I ended up winning last year. The audiences are a blast and respect comedy. It’s nice to perform in a city where the regular audience has been conditioned and understand proper show etiquette. I didn’t go hiking. Performing out of state gigs are not what people think they are. It’s not a vacation. It really is work – Just unusual work. I have to do radio interviews, TV interviews, stop by venues and invite people out to the show. Comedians usually have to do a press run anywhere from 5 AM to 10 AM to promote the shows. No time for hiking, just lots of napping.
RM: What was your earliest memory of seeing stand-up comedy; and which aspect of the performance was convincing enough to interest you in the art form as something you would be able to do professionally?
NG: The earliest memory of seeing stand up was seeing a Howie Mandel special on TV. I was probably 10. I wasn’t thinking about careers then. I think I got into stand up the way most people get into it…Casually. It’s an American pastime if you really think about it. No one actually believes you can do it professionally. There is no career day with a “standup comedian” booth. I don’t know what compelled me to try it, but when I did I was hooked in. I remember at 22 just reading up and researching info about stand up but nothing prepares you for it other than doing it. What made me decide to pursue it professionally was getting fired for taking a gig. I just took it as a sign to try.
RM: If you had to have a mission statement for your act what would it be, provided that “to make people laugh” can’t be anywhere in the sentence?
NG: To make people forget their walls of self image. I try to write material that makes people forget who they are while I’m onstage and just laugh at the experience of being human. That’s why I rarely, if ever, bring up politics, race, or religion. I don’t think I’m better than any comedian that does so, I actually think the exact opposite. To be a great stand up is to completely understand what you are talking about. You have to be able to spin every thought, opinion and argument back and forth to be solid. If you have no clue what you talking about, don’t talk about it.
RM: For those of us who might not be familiar with the program, what’s “La Esquina” and how did you get involved with working for Pitbull? Is he a pretty cool guy?
NG: It was a “reality show” on Mun 2. I wrote on the 2nd season back in 2008. That was also the last season. I ended up as part of the writing team because the comedian I was on the road with at the time was the head writer. Pitbull was so busy touring, I only had set interaction with him. He is a business man all the time and I admired that about him. I really hung out with his brother more than anything. One thing that did stand out was Pit stopped at a music festival one weekend and has a scheduled meet up with a blind little boy that was a huge fan. This wasn’t the first time he hung out with the little boy either. Pit spent time with the little boy and his family for a bit then jumped onstage and performed. Then he got in a car and headed to the studio to work on his song “Crazy”. Always on the grind.
RM: What was the most important thing that you took away from the whole experience of doing Last Comic Standing? Was it something that you already knew and were reminded of, or something that you were completely unaware of to begin with?
NG: Last Comic Standing taught me how to finally prepare a set for TV. I already had an idea but it really made me sit down and think about what to submit. From the moment they told me I was in to the moment I was out, it was a great experience. They flew me down to go film a segment with my immediate family. It had been over 15 years since we had all been in the same room together. Not that we don’t keep in touch, it’s just hard to get everyone in a room together. And it was being filmed. That was already a win in my book.
RM: Do you think that having such a strong set in the invitational round had a significant effect on the way the viewers and the judges responded to your set during the semifinals? If you could go back and take a joke out of the first set that was aired and use it for the second one, would you do so and which one would it be?
NG: The strong set definitely made it hard for the second set because they gave me no critiques. How do you grow without criticism? It’s hard to top a strong set. Although, I stand 100% behind both sets. They are exactly what I wanted to do. I had a moment with myself before committing to the 2nd set and decided that I absolutely wanted to perform those jokes. I wanted to look like a fun guy on TV and that came across. In fact, there was a joke I almost took out of the 2nd set because I thought it was too subtle but Russell caught it and that was enough for me. As for looking like I was thinking, I have that tick of touching my face while talking. It’s a natural thing so I didn’t realize it was happening.
RM: You reference your height in your act…Do you ever feel like there are comedy clubs where being horizontally challenged puts you at a disadvantage? Conversely, are there any clubs in the United States where it actually helps to be short?
NG: Being short puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to being tall. There is no heightism running rampant through the country, so it’s really a non issue. People just say I look taller onstage when they meet me.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
NG: I don’t even know what is going to happen next that is big. Last Comic gave me the thumbs up I needed from the community. I’m going on an Armed Forces tour in a couple of weeks but that was in motion before Last Comic. To be honest, there is always something happening but I don’t like talking about anything until it’s all said and done. It’s a superstition but it also helps from getting everyone’s hopes up. All I can control is the work I put in and I’m going to put in as much work as possible. I want people to know I’m a standup comic, whether they like me or not. Ha ha ha!
Official Website: http://nickguerra.com/
Nick on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nickcomic
Nick on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NickComedian
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