RALEIGH, N.C. — For a man who has reached legendary status in his chosen field, Earthquake remains remarkably self-aware.
Born Nathaniel Stroman, Earthquake has been one of the best stand-up comedians in the game for many years and Raleigh’s Goodnights Comedy Club is lucky to have him as its headline act this weekend.
In addition to being a brilliant, in-demand stand-up, Earthquake also hosts the Quake’s Houseradio show on Sirius/XM and has roles on two new television shows, The Neighborhood on CBS with Cedric the Entertainer and Lil Rel Howery’s Rel on Fox.
His success has likely come with potential traps that have caught many other people in show business, but Earthquake has seemingly avoided those while continuing to delight crowds all over the country by sticking to what got him here: excellent joke writing and delivery, hard work and self-motivation.
During a Thursday afternoon phone interview, Earthquake and I discussed his unique but natural on-stage presence, how he challenges himself, why he still gets nervous before shows and more.
Tony Castleberry: Are you enjoying Quake’s House?
Earthquake: It’s beautiful. I love doing radio. It’s the same way it is to do comedy, man. Talking to the people, immediate gratification. I love my show.
TC: The everyday aspect of the radio show, were you ready for that kind of workload?
E: I was ready for that workload even more. I’m on two TV shows. I’m touring with the greatest comedians out right and I’m also a father, so workloads are what I’m used to.
TC: Doesn’t sound like you get much downtime.
E: Hey, when my bills take a break, then I’ll take a break.
TC: [laughs] I watched Comic View all the time growing up and loved so many of the comedians I saw, but your jokes and the way you told them always stood out. Is your style of joke telling something that came naturally or did you have to work up to that?
E: It just came naturally. That’s who I am. I’ve got something to say and I’m coming right at you with it.
TC: Even good comics who have an act or a persona on stage that isn’t really them, that’s hard to sustain, isn’t it? At some point you have to be yourself, right?
E: I would think so. My mother told me something that pertains to this. She said how you treat a woman when you first meet her is how you should be prepared to treat her for the for rest of your life. That’s how I am with comedy.
TC: You’re a master of your craft and I can’t imagine there being a crowd you couldn’t win over. Do you look for ways to challenge yourself on stage and if so, what are those challenges?
E: The crowd is always the challenge, especially in the black community. If you're not willing to come up with something new, they have a way of letting you know how they feel with that old, familiar, “Boo!” [interviewer laughs] That fear of disappointing a crowd never really goes away.
TC: So, you still get butterflies before you go on?
E: Sure, I get nervous all the time and I’ve never gone on stage without thanking God for giving me the opportunity to do what I do and if all ended today, it's been a great ride.
TC: In your opinion, is there a difference between a North Carolina crowd and a New York City crowd?
E: They’re all crowds to me. If you start adjusting your set to where you’re performing, you're not being true to yourself and a crowd can sense that. For me, it’s better to do what I’ve prepared to do no matter where I am.
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