Comedian and actor Nick Thune has appeared on The Tonight Show 10 times, Conan 2 times, and Late Night 1 time. He performs comedy to sold out crowds everywhere, and now he’s got a brand new special debuting on Seeso today. The world may know him for his absurdism, and deadpan wit paired with his guitar sounds, but prepare to see a new side of Nick in the new special. “Nick Thune: Good Guy” is all about taking risks and you’re about to see something different from the popular comic.
The special opens with a particularly risky move that pays off phenomenally well– a 25 minute long story about his dog eating a powerful amount of weed. It’s not just a thread or some call backs that he returns to- it’s one fully connected story, and it’s absolutely hilarious all the way through, and so well constructed that you will find yourself at the end of it mentally rewinding to think about how he pulled it off. The story ultimately is about the time he got his dog, Mikey, high– really high– by accident, and the story builds over the course of the half hour through different mini-scenes, almost like a short five act play.
I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it than to call it a ballsy move, and I told Nick that when we got the chance to talk with him about the special. He said that was exactly what he was looking to do. “There’s like five parts to it,” Nick explained. “There’s so many different worlds. It starts out as just legalizing marijuana, and how do you get a weed card, to buying weed, which is a fun experience, to finding out that he’s high, and then getting home, and getting to the vet. It’s all so compartmentalized that I think it works.” It might cause problems if he decides to release an album, or play it on the radio but he’s unconcerned about such conventions. “Well, I don’t think I was really building this for old technology,” he said confidently, “but thank you.”
The entire special is a bold departure from Nick’s previous releases. If you’re a long time fan, you probably are used to seeing Nick with a guitar, delivering shorter form material. But he said after two albums that covered that ground, he said he didn’t want to put out another hour that was “different words, same thing.” A strange little twist of fate initiated the change in style: he broke his arm when he was getting ready to tape his last special. For six weeks he couldn’t play the guitar, but he had dates already scheduled, and although they were able to find guitarists to go on stage with him for many of the dates, that wasn’t always possible. “Two days after I broke my arm, I had to perform at Princeton- I think it was Princeton- an hour at a college, and I didn’t have a guitar, I didn’t think about getting anybody, and for an hour on pain pills, I did a performance at Princeton.” He was forced to do some different kinds of material, and found out he loved it. “It was so much fun, and I just thought to myself, remember what it felt like tonight, because this is what you’re going to do next. You need to do this. You need to try this and learn.” He didn’t even think he did that well that night, but he knew it was a road he wanted to go down. “I think that it gave me– it was a risk, and it felt different, and it made me think differently, and I just think that if you could keep moving at a certain level and keep making things that are similar, or you could take a risk and maybe lose it all, or maybe do something that’s better.”
For someone who has made such a recent and major change in the way they perform, you might expect him to come off greener, but Thune’s storytelling skills are as sharp and comfortable as if he had been doing it for a decade. One of the reasons Nick thinks he was able to make the transition so easily, is because his dad is a natural storyteller. “I owe it all to my dad, to be honest,” he said. “My dad is one of those storytellers that if you’re at a restaurant, and my dad’s talking, and then the waiter interrupts him, and takes orders from eight people, causing a five minute pause in whatever story he was telling. There’s certain people that after that, that are like, ‘Okay, so what I was saying was.’ No, the waiter leaves, and then somebody around the table says, ‘Erik, please continue. What were you saying?’ That’s how good of a storyteller he is. People want to hear more of it.” It’s a love that he has already passed on to his son, who is already performing bits for family and friends.
He’s told stories before, but they were more fantastical. In prior hours, he told stories about saving a baby at a bank by doing a backflip, or saving firefighters from a burning building because he met a talking Dalmatian in a forest. Some of his stories in “Nick Thune: Good Guy” have an embellished element to them, but he assured me that even the made up sounding parts of his stories are all true and come from a very real place. Part of why he’s so good at sharing stories is because he shares stories that are important to him. Like, for example, his 25 minute opener about his dog eating an excessive amount of weed was very real and talking about Mikey was was not something that was offhand or easy for him. His dog died tragically under circumstances (unrelated to the weed incident) and it was crushing for him and his wife.
“I found him. It was absolutely horrific. I hadn’t really dealt with death that much,” he said. “It hit me really, really hard. The week that it happened, I happened to be filming a pilot for NBC that was a pretty big deal, and so I had to go to work everyday as if I just didn’t lose my best friend.” He checked into the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood “just like an actor douchebag,” he said, “but I couldn’t be at home, I couldn’t be at home where my dog had been, I couldn’t be around anybody.” Everyday he would work on the TV show and then went back to the Chateau and get drunk and cry. One night he decided he just needed to get on stage. I was walking from the hotel to the show, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to grieve onstage, is what I’m going to do tonight. I want to grieve, and I want people to see it.” But as he got closer to the club, he realized that it wasn’t fair to the audience to just go up and talk about his sadness. “I thought, ‘you know what? If I’m going to talk about Mikey, my dog, I want to talk about him, I want to tell something funny about him,’ and there was the story of him eating a weed brownie. It had happened like a year and a half before that, so I got there, and I told a seven minute version of it, and it worked, and it felt so good to talk about my friend.”
A month later, the Tonight Show booked him and he said that was the story he wanted to tell. And that story became the basis for his 25 minute open. “That’s how personal this whole special was,” he said. His Mikey story isn’t the only part of his special that had life and death significance to him. His ‘closer’ is another story that is too odd, and too funny to be true, about a fight he had with his wife’s obstetrician that resulted in them finding a new doctor. I had assumed he took some wide license from the real story, but again, he assured me that all the details were very real. “I’m still angry about that. I’m still angry about that doctor, the fact that he’s a legitimate doctor at a hospital.” I can’t say more about the story without giving away some of the funniest moments in the special, but when you watch, you’ll find yourself thinking, okay that part was invented for sure, several times. Nick again assured me those parts were absolutely true, and really happened. “There are the small little embellishments,” Nick told me,”but all the big strokes are very real.”
Nick is skilled in finding moments, and breaking them down to the what makes them hilarious, whether it’s infuriating his wife while talking to the vet, or dealing with the social injustice of a line cutter while waiting for his warm quinoa flakes at a coffee shop (true story, that had just happened before we spoke), he invests himself completely in the moment, and then even more so in the retelling.
There’s also an appearance in the special of both his guitar and his character Pastor Nick, a character he’s developing into a series for ABC.
The only thing left to point out is that Nick Thune is a cool dude. Mostly because he asked me to tell you that.
Nick Thune: Also, the last line maybe you could put in there is just make me seem like a cool dude?
The Interrobang: Can I say that you said to make you seem like a cool dude?
Nick Thune: Yes, please.
Go watch Nick Thune: Good Guy, right now. It’s available on Seeso, and if you’re not subscribed, this is the perfect reason to dive in. Seeso has really upped their game this year with some tremendous specials and NT:GG is not to be missed. Watch the trailer below if you don’t believe me.