Hamline alumnus takes a stand-up

Comedian Nate Nickel navigates the world of stand-up in the Twin Cities.

Payton Mansfield, Reporter

As the latest winner of Acme Comedy’s “Funniest Person in the Twin Cities” contest, Hamline Alumnus Nate Nickel has certainly been making a name for himself.

Nickel graduated from Hamline in 2014 with a double major in Psychology and English and a concentration in creative writing. It’s safe to say he’s been putting his creative writing skills to good use, as a stand-up comedian, writing and delivering his own ruthless one-liners.

“I have longer jokes, but one-liners are what I’m best at,” Nickel says. “Unless you’re really good, a show of just one-liners can get old really quick.”

The venue, Acme Comedy Club, has featured names like Emo Phillips, Miranda Sings, and Colin Jost. Nickel is just one of many rising comics that performs at the hotspot on a weekly basis. Monday nights are free to the public and allow for newcomers to sign up and give stand-up a shot. When Nickel’s not at Acme, he is signing up to perform, “Everywhere I can, everyday. Or every night, for that matter.”

Surprisingly enough, comedy wasn’t always an aspiration for the 25-year-old.

Hailing from the small town of Northfield, Minnesota, young Nickel had dreams of being, “probably a jedi.” His teenage years were driven by a passion for music and playing instruments, drumming in particular.

After college graduation, Nickel went back to his hometown with hopes of using his degree to become a therapist. Unfortunately, he found his career options to be sparse. He spent post-graduation working, recovering from tendonitis and watching Netflix specials.

One day, he got inspired to attend his first open mic, and kept it hidden from his family. He didn’t tell them until he started to find some success.

“It was my dirty little secret,” he says.

Two years later, Nickel is shamelessly dedicated to climbing the ladder of stand-up. He studies his favorite comedians and will drop everything to scribble down a joke that comes to mind, even during family gatherings.

“When I find something I like, I really like it,” he says. “I just go super hard at it.”

When I ask how to handle a difficult audience, Nickel says, “Eat sh*t, basically. Tough it out.”

He explains that trying to revive a dull crowd is a “huge mistake” for any comedian and that it’s best to just go with the script. Nickel has also dealt with his fair share of hecklers and people confronting him post-show.

“It’s usually the same group of people,” he says.

He believes comedy is a unique profession in that it often instigates the most hatred out of people.

“You have to have a high tolerance for failure,” he says. Amateur comedians need thick skin if they expect to succeed, and must be prepared to work hard.

“Sign up and show up.”

For the night’s performance, Nickel puts aside his friendliness and makes the most of his seven-minute act with no remorse.

With his own Facebook page, and dreams of one day having his own Netflix special, Nickel is determined to make his way through the world, one punchline at a time.