This week, comedian Nate Abshire will take 10 years of jokes that he has written, performed, and perfected on stages all over the country, and record them for the world to hear.
Acme Comedy Co.
And he can’t wait to get rid of them.
“I always assumed that I’d get an hour of material I was super proud of, and then I’d record it,” Abshire says. “But one of the big reasons I’m finally recording this album is because I have all this material that is in the way of writing new material. I have new stuff I want to work on, but if feels like this other stuff is really holding it back.”
While that might sound like Abshire’s album is going to be something of a comedy garage sale, he says this is the right time and the right material for his debut album.
“This is the first chunk of material I’d want someone to experience as an introduction to what I do,” he says.
After getting his start back in April 2009 at Grumpy’s Death Comedy Jam, Abshire found himself hooked on comedy, though it wasn’t something he had ever dreamed of doing as a career.
“To me, I always thought that you were either born as hilarious as comics are when they record their HBO specials, or you don’t do comedy at all,” he says.
After a few years of performing around town and being hired as an emcee at Acme, the site of this week’s album recording, Abshire figured out that not only were some comedians not funny, but that some unfunny comedians were also capable of recording albums.
“I grew up on standup albums like Lewis Black’s White Album and Eddie Murphy, and then later on stuff like David Cross,” he recalls. “Then when I started to do comedy seriously and more and more people started releasing albums, I’d listen to some of them and think, ‘This is not that great.’ And I didn’t want that for myself. There was definitely an element of being afraid of failure.”
Now an elder statesman of the Twin Cities comedy scene, Abshire is actually traveling to perform much more than he finds himself back in Minnesota. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a local at heart.
“When I got started, I wanted to work at Acme,” he recalls. “That was my goal…. Recording an album was kind of the last thing on my list of things I wanted to accomplish.”
Going from A to B meant he had to understand what stood in the way of achieving his goal.
“There are plenty of other clubs in the country that aren’t a quarter of the club that Acme is that won’t feature me,” he says. “It took me a while to realize that not getting their approval was very personal to me, and not at all personal to them. It’s that seeking recognition from things you can’t control that are outside of you. So now I stay focused on what I can do, and I’m very happy with that.”
Whether it’s reflections on his own life through a self-deprecating but refreshingly honest lens, basking in the absurdity of daily observations, or riffing on facts and science that are essentially batshit, Abshire’s comedy feels more like sitting around and listening to a very funny friend shoot the breeze for an hour than an intricately orchestrated comedy set. Although that doesn’t mean he isn’t still fighting the desire to earn comedy gold stars.
“I focus on just being the best comic I can be and letting go of results,” he says, before quickly adding. “Don’t get me wrong, it is a constant struggle. I try to sound very zen but it’s something I have to remind myself of often.”
IF YOU GO:
Acme Comedy Co.
8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, November 2; 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Click here for details
Acme Comedy Co.