Shortly before the 2010 Campus Kick-Off, famed comedian and part-time beard enthusiast Nick Thune cancelled as the opener for Broken Lizard, and UAA offered no information as to the reason why.
Thune, who will now be the main act at this year’s Kick-Off, regretted canceling for last year’s event, as well as his performance at a local bar the day after. It would have been Thune’s second visit to Alaska, having been here on a cruise when he was 16.
“I was given the chance to have a part on a TV show, and couldn’t pass it up,” Thune said. Working in the entertainment industry can sometimes lead to any number of unfortunate scheduling conflicts and while it’s never a good idea to cancel on commitments, career priorities definitely come into play.
“I was either doing a TV show,” Thune said, “or I was watching a really good TV show and I couldn’t leave my house. I forget which.”
The Seattle-grown comedian got his start doing stand up with a guitar, but he does roughly a half-and-half mix both with and without musical accompaniment.
“I think it adds an element. I can calm a room down, and kind of draw attention, add emotion, like scoring a movie,” Thune said.
Thune’s college career was brief; he dropped out of community college after a few years. After not taking his placement tests seriously, Thune was put in English 072, also known as ESL (English as a Second Language). After two weeks he moved into English 101, however Thune said, “It was an intensive two weeks, I learned a lot. Probably more than I’ve ever learned.”
As far as performers are concerned, there are many schools of thought on the value of education. While some deem the experience and knowledge gained from college to be irreplaceable, many famous comics have done fine without it. “I thought I could make a living just being myself, and didn’t know if there were any classes that could help me with that,” Thune said.
There aren’t many (or any) colleges that offer a “Nick Thune 101” class, a fact which Thune agreed was “really frustrating” to him. Thune said that he enjoyed one class during his college career: “Dalmatians 101.”
“It was just like all “101 Dalmatians” stuff, watching the movies, talking about them,” he said.
Despite never graduating, Thune has never been nervous performing at colleges.
“I already know I’m smarter than all the students anyway. But sometimes it seems like students aren’t sure if it’s all right to laugh at things that the school might deem as ‘inappropriate’,” he said.
Not only that, but at college shows sometimes unpredictable things can happen. About ten minutes into a show at Christopher Columbus University, someone walked in late while Thune was performing. “He had a six-foot bo staff, Oakley wrap-around sunglasses, and fingerless gloves. He made a big disturbance and sat down in the front row. I had to say something.”
Thune is a self-professed enemy of crowd-work, and doesn’t incorporate put downs or blatant insults into his acts. However as most comics know, if something is obviously strange or eye catching within the venue, addressing it is necessary, and often brings some laughs.
“I asked him if he was from the future,” Thune said. He then told the student to take his sunglasses off, using the Larry David quotation, “Only two kinds of people wear sunglasses indoors: blind people and assholes,” but the student flatly refused, and Thune moved back to his jokes.
After the show was finished, however, the advisor in charge of the event confronted Thune for what most comedians deem normal, if not required.
“She said ‘He’s a special student. He walks around all day with those sunglasses and that bo staff and everyone knows about him.’ So I was like oh, ok great, well then here’s a good idea for you: from now on when someone’s performing here, tell them that halfway into their show, a guy with a bo staff and sunglasses and gloves might walk into the front row, and don’t say anything to him because he’s a special student.”
Thune is on tour to promote his first comedy album “Thick Noon.” Anyone attending the show should be sure to bring their Oakley’s and bo staff.
More information on the show is available at: www.uaa.alaska.edu/sll/about/campus-kick-off.cfm