STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Despite recently suffering through a double whammy of the flu with strep throat, life is great for Mt. Airy native Chuck Nice.
In a phone interview, the stand-up comedian said he makes a decent living headlining shows every weekend in New York, where he now lives. And even with the additional workload of the TV shows he’s on — including NBC’s “Today,” the “World’s Dumbest …” series on Tru TV and HGTV’s “Home Strange Home” — “I’m able to be home and take care of my family.”
Nice’s children are 16, 9 and 2. He hasn’t toured in several years because “the most important thing in my life is being a father,” he said.
His ability to get laughs on a variety of TV shows since 2004 — notably including “The Sizzler” segment of VH1’s “Best Week Ever” — gets him recognized in public. However, the punch line is people usually can’t remember his name.
“I do enjoy this part of my life … ‘Hey, you’re that guy I know from the thing that you do.’ They’ll say: ‘Man, I can’t remember your name, but you’re everywhere’,” Nice said.
April 22 he headlines a comedy show at the Keswick Theatre, which is a benefit for the Abington Police Athletic League. “I played a little PAL football when I was a kid. It’s a great way for the police force to be integrated into the community,” he said, adding he wished there were more police-community initiatives across the country because of the unsettling frequency of accusations of police brutality in the last two years.
Nice disclosed that he was approached to do the benefit because an Abington cop is a friend of his mother’s. “If I said no, they were gonna tell my Mama,” he laughed.
“I still love Philadelphia,” noted Nice, joking that the area seems to have drastically improved since he moved north to New York.
His stand-up act he described as “experiential” humor, giving an example of a conversation he witnessed between his wife and his then-6-year-old son. The boy innocently asked his mother if she had a penis. Nice continued: “She said no. He said: ‘Oh you gotta get one of these — these things are awesome!’”
“Telling a story has always been the best form of entertainment in human history,” he said.
His talent was first recognized as a frequent caller to the “Opie and Anthony” radio show in 1999. This led to an on-air “sidekick” gig on Leslie Gold’s “Radio Chick” show in New York — and almost simultaneously, stand-up comedy — which opened the door to TV. “A lot of the (TV) industry goes out to the (comedy) clubs,” Nice said.
When asked about how “Worlds Dumbest” was produced, he replied, “If you could see the set-up, it would be totally underwhelming.” According to Nice, the commentary segments are shot in isolation in a space the size of a walk-in closet, with a single camera. He revealed that the non-comedian cast members — such as Todd Bridges, Tonya Harding, Leif Garrett and Daniel Baldwin — get most of their zingers on the compiled outrageous videos written for them. Meanwhile Nice and his comedian friends in the cast, like Judy Gold, Brad Loekle and Loni Love, would be tasked with writing four to five jokes for each of the 20 videos that appear in each episode. Usually one, and sometimes none, of those four or five makes it into a final “World’s Dumbest” show. “Most of the show happens in post-production,” he said, referring to the editing and added sound effects and animation. “I’ll appear 11 or 12 times in an episode, and I’ll have written a hundred jokes. It’s great though because it’s a reason to sit down and write jokes.”
Nice can also be heard on podcasts, skewering advice columns with “Nice Advice” and getting astrophysical in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “StarTalk.” A self-confessed closeted science geek, Nice said, “Every now and then, I slip up (in casual conversation). ‘What the hell did you just say about protons?!’”
IF YOU GO
What: Comedy show with Chuck Nice, Dena Blizzard and Eddie Clark.
When: 7:30 p.m. April 22.
Where: The Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave. off of Easton Road, Glenside.
Info.: Visit www.keswicktheatre.com or call (215) 572-7650.