Chuck Nice has appeared on the Today show, FOX's The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, MTV's Sex in the 90s, NBC's Showtime at the Apollo and VH1's Best Week Ever. He hosts Cinematherapy on We TV on Thursdays at 8pm. You can find him most Thursdays and Saturdays doing stand-up at Comic Strip Live.
What defines a good show for you?
Chuck Nice: A paycheck.
Tell us about your start in comedy.
CN: Oh, it was horrible. I started in Philadelphia. You basically work for free, everywhere. You take as many jobs as you can. I used to drive up to New York City and stand outside of a club [formerly] called Boston Comedy Club. I would have to beg people to come into the show so that I could possibly get an opportunity to go onstage. I'll never forget: one time I couldn't get onstage, so we set up a milk crate in front of the McDonald's on Sixth Avenue and West 3rd. The manager let us stand on this milk crate with a boom box and a microphone and do comedy.
Where's your favorite place in New York to perform?
CN: Comic Strip Live. This place is so rich with comedy history. It's number one. You look at the wall and you see all the pictures of the now-famous comedians who started here. And they have dedicated comedy audiences. It's always flattering when people come out and say, "I saw you were on the bill, so I wanted to come out and see you do stand-up." That's the best feeling—when somebody says they came to see you.
Are New York audiences different from audiences in other cities?
CN: Absolutely. There's no better audience. New York audiences are the best audiences, as far as I know, because they understand comedy and they see a lot of comedy. They're judging you against all these great comics that are here in the City. So after the show, when they come up to you and are like, "You are awesome," you know that you are awesome, because you just went up against the best comics in the nation. New York City audiences are up on everything. You make references, and they just get it.
CN: For instance, I talk about terror and how we have a knee-jerk reaction to judge people. New Yorkers get it, because they live in a very culturally diverse city, so they understand that it's very difficult to try to judge somebody on the way that he looks.
Does the City give you fodder for your show?
CN: Absolutely. New York City is a living circus. As a comedian, all you have to do is walk down the street or sit in the park for just an hour, and if you're observant, you'll have some material. For example, once, I was sitting on a park bench after a stint at an Irish pub. I was inebriated, and there was a bum sitting next to me who was also inebriated.
What time was it?
CN: It was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. [Laughs] And we were both drunk on a bench in Central Park. Then, a woman comes down the path, and she's got a poodle in a baby carrier. She walks by us, and the drunk stands up, looks at her and says, "Lady, you need to shave that baby!" Now, I'm drunk too, and she looks at me like, "I can't believe he just said that." And I look at her and go, "Lady, that is a hairy f***ing baby." That's a true story, and I turned it into a joke. That's why people laugh, because when you recount these experiences, they can tell you didn't make this stuff up. That's the great thing about New York. It's always a great canvas for you to paint on.