Thursday, 23 May 2013 11:56

Nate Bargatze: Patriot, Comedian and Son of a Clown

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Nate Bargatze
Dr. Grins, Grand Rapids
June 13-15, showtimes at 8, 9 and 10:30 p.m.
Prices TBA, (616) 356-2000

Most children grow up with parents whose professions are paradoxically mysterious and boring, with job titles such as "senior project engineer" or "regional manager."

Nate Bargatze's dad, however, was in an entirely different league.

He was, quite literally, a clown... at least until he switched careers to world-renowned magician. None of this, however, ever phased Bargatze.

"It was such a normal thing," says Bargatze. "I just grew up around it."

From an early age, Bargatze would appear in some of his dad's performances, and was always exposed to the idea of entertainment as a career.

"It was never a driving force," Bargatze said. "It was never like, 'I think I'm going to do that.' It was just being around it, I think it just kind of seeps in."

Eventually he would leave his hometown of Old Hickory Tennessee to study improv at Second City in Chicago. What he ended up learning was that he didn't want to do improv.

"I wanted to be funny on my own," Bargatze said. "I didn't want to be taken in different directions by somebody."

It was at this point that he decided to put forth all his effort to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. In the short time he's spent out in the field, he's had his own Comedy Central half-hour special, appeared on multiple late night shows and won first-place prizes at multiple festivals, including the New York Comedy Festival.

He's also found quite a devoted audience in American soldiers serving abroad. Bargatze has performed overseas multiple times at different army bases around the globe, and will continue to perform military gigs as long as many times as they'll ask him.

"Not everybody can just go to Baghdad," he said. "It's a crazy experience to go see that."

While he's spent most of his energy perfecting his stand-up routine and touring, he's also ventured into other territory, such as writing sketches and jokes for Spike TV's Video Game Awards.

"It was nice because it almost felt like I was back to a normal schedule," Bargatze said of the experience. "It was like 10 to 5, and you go in and we would just write sketches or jokes for the people to say."

Writing during the day and performing stand-up at night proved to be mentally exhausting for Bargatze, and while he would be interested in writing scripts for his very own sitcom someday (it's one of his dreams), don't expect a book anytime soon.

"It would be the first time mumbling would ever be in a book," he said.

So for now, Bargatze is focusing on his standup career, garnering acclaim from notable figures such as Marc Maron and Jim Gaffigan. Even though he opted out of wearing a red nose and oversized shoes, one thing's for sure – he always delivers the laughs.

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