Comedian

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Whether in Iraq during his USO tour, or the fact that he’s a ‘cheesehead’ at heart, or just bumping into each other in a random social Facebook group, we were meant to meet eventually, so we can sit and talk, while he scavengers on Rocky Rocco pizza, while we share our common interests and philosophies with our life experiences.

Now I sit with him again, to give him his own spotlight to share his own story here on my blog. Hey, Nathan…. Thanks for joining me!

You’ve been doing comedy for a while now, Nathan, with some epic experiences over the years as a performer. Can you give the readers a short resume of who you are and what your accomplishments are that you’ve made over the years of comedy?

A short résumé…  Mi llamo es Nathan. I stand on stage and yap into a microphone, which in turn makes people giggle. I may be a nobody, but I’ve managed to eek out a living slinging jokes. I’ve put out 5 CDs during my career, and have just finished recording/editing my 6th. Two of those CDs receive regular airplay on the Sirius/XM comedy channels, and one of them, “I Might Not Be Joking,” made it into the top 20 on the  iTunes comedy chart.

My official bio is: Not as serious as Plato, but lighter than Socrates. Not as edgy as Clinton, but livelier than Nixon. Not as heavy as GWAR, but deeper than Culture Club.

I’d say that’s accurate.

Tell us the story of how Nathan Timmel got into comedy?

I was in a band in college, and we started picking up some steam. A half-dozen college radio stations started playing our songs, and we began charting on the nationally published College Music Journal, so naturally we imploded. I wanted to go on tour and build a fan base; the singer wanted to get signed to a record label and have them do all the work. I said, “We’re not going to get signed unless we go to the places we’re getting played, get some fans, and give a record label a reason to sign us.”

He disagreed, and the band broke up.

I’m a bass player, one with enough self-awareness to understand I’m no Sting. With little desire to end up in another band where there would be fighting and disagreement, and without the ability to write songs/sing on my own, I decided to hit an open microphone and make with the silly.

It stuck, and here I am.

Most of your comedy would be drawn into the dark humor genre, and a lot of your jokes basically are of you providing your opinions and sharing stories of your life, as well as, making fun of the current issues on politics and society. What do you think is the key to get a message across on an affective domain to the audience?

I think the best way to get a point of view across to anyone is to be universal. If you take a side, then you alienate the other side. If you go with universal truths, it’s hard for anyone to deny or discredit what you’re saying.

People still will deny and disagree with and discredit what you’re saying, but it’s harder for them to do so.

Are you worried about offending the modern audiences with your material considering the controversies today with comedians, i.e. David Chappelle?

I’m not, and here’s why: everyone is offended by something. That’s all there is to it. So no matter how hard you try, someone will take issue with something you say. Therefore, the best approach is to not worry about it. I just go forth with my own values and limits in mind; lines I won’t cross: homophobic, racist, or sexist comments.

Regarding Dave Chappelle, I don’t know that there’s much controversy surrounding him. There’s invented “controversy,” but that’s not real. What you have to remember is that the audience loves his most recent, the “controversial,” special. Not just the in-house audience he recorded it in front of, but everyone, everywhere. The show is currently rocking a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The reason it’s “controversial” is because “critics” have it at 35%. Those “critics” are nothing but a bunch of “woke” idiots virtue signaling how awesome they are to other idiots.

People say you’re supposed to “punch up, not down” in comedy. Meaning you attack the powers that be, not victims. What Chappelle did in his last special is attack woke culture head on, because today that IS punching up. With stupid people being offended by Goddamn everything, and the media writing articles like, “Twitter explodes after… (insert anything non-controversial here)!” and then finding the ten stupidest people on Twitter to use an example of how outraged everyone is, being “woke” means being in power. Thus, that movement is fair game for mockery by comedians.

And note: there is a difference between mockery, and complaining/whining. A lot of people whine/complain. Chappelle mocked, and did so brilliantly.

Hell, even President Obama called out woke “culture.” Hopefully it’s a signal that like anything stupid, it’s time has passed.

Would you ever consider doing comedy specials on streaming services to broaden your audiences?

(Laughs) My buddy is currently in a band, and one of the members said, “We need to make a viral video!”

As if it’s that easy, and that going viral just happens.

I’d absolutely do comedy specials on streaming services, but unless someone is backing those with some authority, it’s doubtful they’d move the needle. I mean, I’ve a YouTube channel with more videos than you can shake a stick at on it. No one cares, because no one knows who I am.

That said: I’m taping my first Dry Bar comedy special next week. I don’t know when they’re going to release it, but I’ve seen some of their videos go viral, so…

*crosses fingers*

Are you planning to go on tour or simply have any new bookings?

I’m always “on tour” and/or looking for new bookings. Being an unknown comedian means you’re perpetually trying to work; you don’t schedule 3 months and then take 3 months off. It’s financially unfeasible to live like that.

You’re not just a comedian. You are also an author. Can you provide a proposal for what your books are about that you’ve published so far? 

To date, I’ve put out three works of non-fiction. The first book was a memoir, and the next two were letters I wrote to my kiddos over the course of a year.

I just finished my first work of nonfiction, and I was about to self-publish it, but the wife read it and sat me down and said, “OK, I’ve always supported your writing, but what you have to understand is: this one is good. Like, really good.”

So, she’s not letting me self-publish; she wants to find me an agent.

I wish her luck, but I know that’s much, much, much easier said than done.

How are your books different from your performances as a comedian?

On stage, I have to be funny. It’s my job. No one goes to a comedy club to do anything but laugh. The books give me an outlet where I don’t have to be “on” all the time. They have funny moments, but they’re not inherently humorous. Writing allows me to explore the other nonsense going on inside my noggin; things that won’t work on stage. Non-jokes, if you will.

What are some of the biggest highlights and accomplishments you’re proud of over the years as a comedian?

It’s easily my time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The two best compliments I’ve ever received have come from shows for the military.

I’ve been closing my shows talking about my time in Afghanistan, and that’s on the CD I have coming out in January: “This Could Get Awkward,” so I’ll tell a story about Iraq.

At Camp Anaconda, a woman named Leah Burton approached me after my show. She shook my hand, and said, “Sitting in the theater, in the darkness, just laughing… I actually forgot where I was for a second. I was laughing, and then I looked down at my uniform and was startled. I looked around the room and wondered why everyone was in military garb. Then I remembered how far from home I was. I remembered I was in Iraq, and my family was a thousand miles away. But for a moment, I forgot.”

I mean… all I do is tell jokes for a living. It’s not supposed to mean anything. So when I hear that against all odds I’ve actually made someone’s life a little more tolerable? It sticks with you.

I know a small portion of some of your background as a comedian that includes life experiences. Your life experiences have been a helpful tool towards your comedy, but the question is, has comedy been a helpful tool for you as an individual? How has it evolved you as a performer and individual?

I don’t think I can put it any better than Hawkeye did on M*A*S*H: If I’m not laughing, I’m screaming.

We live in a cynical world, and the news is always negative. If I wasn’t actively making fun of that, it’d be too much for my fragile little psyche.

Log on to Facebook at any given time and scroll through your feed; it’s people shouting at one another, people whining about how awful their life is… I have “friends” who haven’t made changes in a Goddamn decade. It’s the same litany of negativity over and over and over, without any attempt to self-improve. Comedy has helped me observe such negativity from afar and actively decide not to engage in such behavior.

Two more examples: Last Week Tonight, with John Oliver. That show takes on the most depressing subjects possible and makes you laugh while learning how bleak things are. And finally, The Life of Brian… I saw that as a kid, and it’s always stuck with me: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

“If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.”

Today, you are a great family man now with two beautiful kids and your wife. How is life different now compared to before fatherhood?

I haven’t slept in seven years. I think that’s probably knocked some time off my overall lifespan.

Your stories of your kids have surely added some new material to your arsenal. How has your comedy evolved today compared to your material from ten years ago?

I’d say that like most people, I was angrier when I was younger. We age, we gain perspective, we mellow out…

If you don’t, holy crap are you annoying. Have you ever met an adult–someone in their late 30’s or 40s–that’s still carrying that adolescent chip on their shoulder?

I think my material these days is easier to digest.

Last, but surely not least… How about them Packers? 

They will be the death of me.

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Photo Courtesy of http://www.mikewinfield.com

This comedian has been on the Arsenio Hall Show, NBC’s The Office, and even got his debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. He’s now breaking barriers now by teaming up with one of the top country stars, Brad Paisley, on a Netflix special, Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo, currently streaming, as well as, having a new film project called PIMP with the rapper and actor, DMX.

However, what is Mike E. Winfield about? Who is he really? What gets him going on his craft? I recently had the privilege to take a minute with Mike E. to ask some of these questions and more. Let’s see who he is behind his jokes and art. But before we do that, check out his newest trailer for his most recent comedy special, My Side of the Story.

Thank you for taken some time to answer some questions, Mike. Let’s get right to it now. In your own words, who is Mike E. Winfield?

MIKE E WINFIELD: I’m just a guy who started from the bottom. Now I’m here.

Is there a certain event or experience in life that influenced you to go the comedy and/or acting route? Could you take a moment and share your story?

MEW: Through the course of my life, I’ve always considered myself a funny person. The reason I decided I should share it with the world is, because of all the moments I spent with some of my closet friends. We spent a number of nights going to clubs, hanging out at parties, laughing and joking, and creating quality efforts to make each other laugh. After a while it becomes a skill. The combination of that and my college speech class equipped me with the tools to take it to the stage.

Do you consider comedy a form of art, or just strictly entertainment?

MEW: Comedy is definitely art. I pride myself on being an artist first. My favorite thing is spending many days and nights in a room, with coffee, and creating content that I can take to the stage. It’s really only art to me. The entertainment aspect comes from those who decided to stand around me and enjoy it.

Which comedians and/or actors influence your work and/or performances?

MEW: I think influence is huge. I’m a fan of several comedians, but not one of them has influenced my work. My material is raw, unique, and not stolen. I don’t think I can say that one has influenced me. What I will say is, I’m influenced by the grind in hip-hop, and how many artists’ goals are to rise to the top. That fires me up!

When did you realize that comedy would be your career route? What were you doing before acting and comedy?

MEW: I used to work at a grocery store. I hated it. I worked in the self-checkout lane, so I would watch people steal all day. When I started comedy, it was hard to maintain the two. I had this co-worker who hated me. She thought she was the boss, but she wasn’t the real boss. She was one of the little people, but with a key. When I called in, this lady would check my social media to verify that I was really sick. If I wasn’t sick, she would tell the real boss that I actually had a show that night. It was impossible that I was suffering from pneumonia. I eventually decided it was time to pursue comedy full-time.

You did a comedy special with Brad Paisley last summer. What is the story behind this opportunity? How did you get involved? Was there some kind of audition for comedians for this special?

MEW: I actually got booked to work with Brad a year prior to the comedy special. I performed with him in Nashville, and took one of his songs called “I’m Gonna Miss Her” (the song was about him choosing to go fishing, instead of spending time with his lady), and I made a joke about how that exact same scenario would go down in my life. Let’s just say it went over well. He loved the joke! That is how I got the booking for the Comedy Rodeo special.

What was it like teaming up with one of country music’s top celebrities?

MEW: It’s fun to find out that a celebrity is just a real person behind the glitz and glamour. He’s just a down to earth kind of guy that loves what he does. That’s something I can really cling on to.

Did Reba ever find out what happened to her horses?

MEW: (Laughing). I need to follow up on that, and get back to you.

Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo is a Netflix Original currently streaming right now. Do you feel the expansion of the streaming services, and their ability to produce their own material, have opened more doors for artists/actors/etc. in general?

MEW: Absolutely, all it takes is a video to go viral and you’re famous. That’s the era we live in now. People have their phones accessible at all times. You don’t have to leave the house to support someone’s live show. All it takes is a watch and a like. I’m such a fan of streaming that I added that feature on my website for my newly released standup comedy special.

Currently you are touring around the States. Which cities have been your favorite to experience?

MEW: I’ve been touring a bunch and that question is so tough, because everywhere I go people show me so much love. I did a Facebook live video, and so many people tuned in; a fight started about which city loved me more. If I had to choose though, I’d say New York City. I’m a fan of so many great artists that came out from there. 

You have a new comedy special coming out soon. When and where it will be released for your fans?

MEW: It’s available now on MikeWinfield.com. It’s called My Side of the Story.

Can you tell us a bit about it?

MEW: It’s easily going to be the most world changing special in the 2000’s. It’s based off of my life experiences. I’m married to an older woman, and I give my take on how it is being with an older woman who treats you like a kid. To be honest, I’m actually surprised how fast it’s selling. It’s great to see so many people interested. I mean, I believed in it, but to see others believe in it, it’s an amazing feeling.

What is your long-term goals for your craft in the entertainment industry?

MEW: I just want to create more television, movies, and stand-up comedy.

Is there anybody in the industry you haven’t worked with yet that is on your list of people you would like to work with, whether it be a comedy segment or a film?

MEW: I want to play opposite of Wood Harris in a crime drama.

What’s next for Mike E. Winfield after your tour?

MEW: (Laughing) There’s no ‘after’ the tour.

Thank you for your time, Mike E. For comedy fans, please take a moment to head over to Mike’s web site and check out his most current comedy special now available for streaming!!! I hope he truly does follow-up with the Reba’s horse incident.