Nick Baskerville (blog @ Story Telling on Purpose) is a Maryland-based military veteran, firefighter, storyteller, and passionate educator. He focuses a lot of his storytelling on clean comedy (and runs a Facebook group called The Clean Room, which is open to everyone interested in clean jokes). Check him out at Instagram @storytellingonpurpose, Twitter @on_telling, and Facebook @storytellingonpurpose365. He’s got a number of ongoing shows in the area listed here.
Below, we made him answer five short questions.
How has comedy or storytelling improved your day-to-day life?
Both comedy and storytelling immensely add value to my life every day. When asked, I tell people that I slipped, tripped, and fell into both art forms. After becoming an instructor in the fire service, I looked for ways to improve my delivery for better retention of info for the students. That journey took me from the public speaking group Toastmasters to Storytelling, to Stand-up comedy. I now use all three when trying to convey or express an idea.
Aside from teaching, I use storytelling and stand-up comedy as a way to help release tension when talking about issues that normally carry a bit of tension with them (mental health, race, religion, etc.). There is a lot to be talked about in the world, so I think about using stories and jokes as a way to get people talking.
Who in your family is the funniest?
Hard to say. Sarcasm is more common in my family. Perhaps my grandma. She had a subtle
way of delivering humor in stories.
What are some topics for stories you think are underrated or not used enough?
Everyday happenings are underrated for stories. Soooo many people think they don't have a story to tell. Most of the time, this comes from thinking that a good story is some amazing feat or happening. A good personal narrative story, a story you are telling about you or someone you know, is about anything that causes you to see life differently. That can be a big or small change, a big or small event.
For example, I tell a story about understanding others’ point of view after trying to get my 5-year-old daughter out the door for school on time. It's a simple story of parenting that helps to explain a bigger concept of empathy.
How did you come up with your best joke?
So far, I think my best joke has to do with praying to God. I got there working on the theme of me being a "bad" Christian. I say theme and not premise because the premise of the joke for praying to God is "I want to talk to God, but I don't know how."
With the help of my instructor in the comedy class, I dug deep into how and why I feel about being a bad Christian. What I took away from that process is that some of my best material comes from leaning heavily to how I feel about a topic and why.
Describe your comedy writing process.
This is what works best for me: I try to write on a theme starting in a stream of thought. Most times, I work on a bit, not just a joke. I enjoy taking a deeper dive into a subject. Anything that makes me take a second look, I ask: what do I feel about that, and why? I put what I can I to a joke format, and the other stuff I use as general notes.
I take that stuff to online writer's rooms and feedback mics such as Washington DC Comedy Writers Group, Two Joke Minimum, or Jokes in The Clean Room. There, I get help with what I missed and polishing the jokes.
Photography: Marty ShoupBlue Lion Multimedia