From Open Mic to Headliner! Nick Deez Conquers Funny Bone

by | Jan 11, 2024 | COMEDY, NIGHTLIFE

Hello readers! In today’s edition, we’re talking with the city’s latest comedy hero, Nick Deez. Nick is headlining the Richmond Funny Bone on January 21st, and he’s here to spill the tea, the coffee, and maybe get a few laughs with us in this interview.

Gabriel Santamaria: Alright, what’s up, Nick? How’s it been, man?

Nick Deez: Good, man. I can’t really complain.

GS: Hanging out working?

ND: Yeah, working.

GS: That’s good. Um, it’s been a big year for your business, a big year for comedy, right?

ND: Oh, yeah. I’ve been able to do like, probably the most this year that I’ve done in any year, honestly. This is the year I went full time. It’s been pretty crazy, you know, for year five. Back in July, I went full time and I’ve just been trying to travel more and do as much as I can. I had another headline show that I did at Cozy’s during the summer that I headlined and sold out. So, yeah, it’s been a pretty big year, all things considered.

GS: That’s awesome. So, it seems like everybody’s working a lot. Do you think it’s getting a bit competitive out there, or is everyone kind of working together?

ND: It depends. There’s enough going on that it’s not like people are fighting each other for the same spot. I think pre-COVID, or during COVID, when stuff started to open back up, many clubs had headliners bring all their own people, which made it a bit harder for guys like me. Everyone kind of got knocked down a peg or two. If you were featuring or MCing at a club, you got pushed back. You’d be waiting to see if there was a dropout, someone who canceled last minute, and then you might get called up to open.

GS: Well, that’s crazy. But at least it’s trickled down more. I’ve seen a lot of growth in many people, including yourself. It’s been cool to watch. Do you have a favorite special that came out this year?

ND: Definitely, Shane Gillis’ new special is my favorite. I got to see him run it in Richmond, two nights before he shot it.

GS: I got to see it at the Carpenter Center, or whatever it’s called now.

ND: Yeah, the Dominion Center. I saw him at Sandman and got to open for him. Yeah, earlier this year, I went to, in fact, I think it was right at the end of last year. I did a show in Philly at the Philadelphia Punchline, and the next night it was Shane Gillis. It was basically like Philly’s favorite podcasters home for the holidays. They did a show at Helium, which is the other club in Philly. And I ended up going up there. My buddy La Mare was on the show.

I went to hang out and everything. The funniest thing was, I was standing in the showroom by the wall, and it was sold out. Shane came and stood in front of me. I guess he didn’t recognize me at first. He just stood there, then turned and realized he was standing in front of somebody. He turned around and apologized, saying, ‘Oh my God, dude, I’m so sorry, my bad man. I didn’t mean to stand in front of you.’ Then he recognized me and was like, ‘Oh, shit, dude, what are you doing up here in Philly?’ I told him I had a show and hung around town just to watch their show. It was really cool because he recognized me. Between the early show and the late show, I got to hang out with everyone in the green room. That night, I watched him work on a bunch of stuff that actually ended up in the special. It was cool to see it a year prior, as it was really new stuff he was working on, and then watch him do it two days before filming. Watching it on Netflix when everything was all said and done was amazing. The craftsmanship and how it was written made it my favorite special of the year. Seeing it at different points of development was really neat, like a behind-the-scenes look at how that special came together.

GS: Hell, yeah. That’s how I felt. A lot of people are getting into that, right? I didn’t do that type of thing right now. I wanted to go see Stavros when he came to town, and his special just came out. I recognized a bunch of the material, but it was still a year before the special came out.

ND: It makes you feel more invested in the actual material that you’re watching or listening to.

GS: Yeah. And also, seeing comedy live, you know, sometimes you can’t beat it. Seeing the special and remembering what it was, but seeing it live just rules. That’s why people need to come to shows.

ND: Yeah. I think that’s the biggest part of it. Comedy is one thing to enjoy at home while hanging out with friends or putting something on while cooking dinner. But nothing really matches or meets the experience of seeing it live.

GS: Heck, yeah. So this is your first headline show at the Funny Bone?

ND: Yeah, so, January 21st, I’m going to be headlining The Richmond Funny Bone. It’s my first time ever headlining the club. I’m super excited for it. Honestly, that was the first big club that let me feature for a full weekend. Cozy’s was the first club I ever featured at, and they have a Friday, Saturday show each night. But Funny Bone, you know, I featured there and have done as many as six shows in a weekend, depending on the headliner. The headliner coming through is someone I’ve worked with before, named Dave Landau. I’m actually going to be working with him this weekend at Virginia Beach Funny Bone. He’s doing Richmond Funny Bone on the 19th and 20th. I’ll be hosting those shows, so I’ll be hosting Friday and Saturday, and then on Sunday, I get to headline.

The conversation was had with my buddy who manages the club. I had asked him about doing that weekend. He said, ‘Obviously, if you want that weekend, it’s yours. I know you’ve worked with him before, and you’re working with him again in Virginia Beach.’ I had previously mentioned to him the idea of possibly doing a one-nighter there, like what it would take. We went over what it’s taken for me to headline at Sandman and Cozy’s down here in Newport News, and discussed the ticket sales. That was a few months ago, and fast forward, it got pushed up the chain to the people in charge. He hit me up not too long ago and was like, ‘Hey, man, it’s good to go. I’ve got you set to do Friday, Saturday hosting, and then you’re going to headline on Sunday.’

So this is honestly the biggest thing for me, probably just from an overall, I guess, important standpoint. Not that headlining any club is really bigger or better than another, but for it to be a club in the town where I started is huge. The Funny Bone is a chain; they’re all over the country and get some of the biggest names out right now, you know.

So, I did the guest spot at Richmond Funny Bone for Dave Attell. But doing that spot got me set up to actually host for him at Virginia Beach Funny Bone, because he specifically requested someone in the area he had already worked with. And it just so happened that I’m the only person in the Hampton Roads area that had opened for him that he knew of or recognized. So, I got a call while I was supposed to be on my honeymoon, asking if I wanted to host for Dave Attell that weekend. I called my wife and asked, ‘What do I say?’ She was like, ‘It’s Dave Attell. You’d be crazy to say no.’ So, I took the work. We just bounced back and forth between our honeymoon spot in Williamsburg. It wasn’t a huge drive back and forth.

GS: Yeah, you weren’t like in Aruba or whatever.

ND: Oh, no. Yeah, it was a really cool opportunity, and it was super cool knowing that she was like, ‘Hey, I got your back. Don’t worry about it. I got you covered.

GS: Yeah, you gotta go be Spiderman.

ND: Exactly.

GS: That’s awesome. Well, I was wondering, do you think clips on the internet are hurting or helping the industry? Is it a double-edged sword? Because some people say there’s a lot of pressure for comedians to put out more content than ever before.

ND: Right now, I agree with that. Because as it stands, there’s no real way to build your brand out without posting on the internet.

GS: Yeah, I guess. And it’s the best time ever to be a fan because there’s so much out there right now. But for comedians, it feels like you have to put out a lot of stuff and then build your material outside of the internet until it’s ready, but they’ll put something out there.

ND: Yeah, it’s weird because, like I said, it is a double-edged sword. I do feel like comics are under a lot of pressure to come up with content, either jokes or other videos that aren’t just stand-up. There are people doing more with podcasts, a bunch of different things. Traction is traction, but you never know what is really going to hit or pop off. And you can’t control how the internet or the algorithm picks up what you’re putting out. Over the last couple of years, I think there’s been a big shift, like a divided class, where it’s people either posting actual jokes and written material or posting crowd work clips. Some people do one and not the other. A lot of people post just crowd work stuff because it’s not burning any material they’re working on for something bigger. But then there are comics who don’t feel the need to post it because they’d rather post stuff they’re actually working on, based on their personal preference.

GS: Well, like, some people just aren’t crowd work people, you know? I mean, there’s a way to connect with the audience without going person to person to do it, I guess. It’s not everybody’s style. So, you know, but yeah, it feels like there’s a lot of pressure to put out a lot of stuff. Here’s another question I was going to ask you, like, is there a style of comedy that you just wish you could do? You’re like, ‘I’m not really capable. That’s not my style.’ But is there something that you like that you’re not really capable of, comedy-wise?

ND: Uh, I don’t really know. It’s one thing that I really want to focus on, especially going into the New Year, is doing more storytelling. That’s one thing I struggle with, trying to make sure that in something more long-form, I’m not losing people or doing something that just gets lost. So, that’s one thing I really want to grow with, making sure that I can put more focus on that. There was a period when I felt like I got stuck in the crowd work loop, just doing crowd work at shows because I felt like I needed to have more material, or I needed to have more videos and clips to put out. And now, I’ve made a point over the last year or so that I really wanted to focus more on actual writing, delivering jokes better, and just being better overall on stage. So, that’s been the big challenge for me, making sure that I’m not just, I guess, kind of following the crowd when it comes to being on stage and doing stuff.

GS: Yeah. So, like stringing together 10 minutes of stuff that all have to do with each other and everything. But they’re all trying to be like checkpoints for jokes and everything, right?

ND: Yeah, you know, trying to break down a more long-form story into something that has sections to it.

GS: Heck, yeah. So, what’s your favorite movie this past year?

ND: Oh, that’s a tough one.

GS: I just watched Violent Night.

ND: I haven’t watched that yet. I think, um, I did sit down, my wife made me watch the Barbie movie with her the other day. It wasn’t my favorite movie, but it was definitely a funny movie to sit down to. I watched that and then, like, Merry Little Batman. I watched that with my kid the other day. That was really good.

GS: I watched that. My kids didn’t care for it. He’s only 1.5, doesn’t know what’s going on right now. So, it was more for me. It was alright, though.

ND: Yeah, I like that. I was really big on Calvin and Hobbes growing up. So, I really like that animation style because it had a mix.

GS: I noticed it from somewhere. This looks familiar.

ND: To me, it’s like the perfect mix between Teen Titans Go and Calvin and Hobbes. I’m really big on art and visuals, so I really liked it. I thought it was a cool, funny story. I thought it was done really well. Honestly, I think top of my list would be Equalizer Three. I’m a big action person, and I love the first two with Denzel Washington. I think Equalizer Three is probably my favorite overall movie that I’ve watched this year.

GS: Oh, man. Well, if you like action movies, check out Violent Night. It’s on Prime.

ND: I just saw it. I just finished it like 30 minutes ago. But, yeah, no, it was great. They have a fun homage to a bunch of different stuff. And definitely, it’s this weird thing that’s kind of trending right now. Like, movies are aware that they’re movies, you know.

GS: Yeah, there’s a lot of that.

ND: I felt that with X. There’s a part where they’re just talking, and they’re aware that the whole movie is about to just ramp up or change or whatever, and they actually mention it. I think it’s a trend right now, but the movie is great.”

GS: It’s cool. But I think that’s what I got though. Uh, I was trying to get this wrapped up and hopefully, and what, when is the date for the show?

ND: January 21st, 7 o’clock at Richmond Funny Bone. Tickets are 12 bucks. I’ve got a great lineup with Devon Simmons, Cade Wonders, and Matt Hubbard featuring for me.

GS: I’ll try to make it out with my wife.

ND: Just let me know, man.

Gabriel Santamaria

Gabriel Santamaria

Band leader of The Flavor Project, Co Owner at La Cocina Studios, Cast Member on The Hustle Season podcast.

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