Getting to Know Comedian Nick Callas – The Hype Magazine

Interviews

Published on May 14th, 2020 | by Jerry Doby

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Getting to Know Comedian Nick Callas

From the outside looking in, who is Nick Callas?

An artist. But based on the comments I’ve read, “Ashton Kutcher lookin mofo who rap fast and act like Jim Carrey.“ ..I’m just trying to get people to see there’s no limit to where I’m going, the joke-telling, fast rapping, character acting, cartoon making, sword fight choreographing, scriptwriting, comic book drawing, celebrity impersonating, film directing, jacked dude. But I’ll settle for White Jamie Fox. 

I’m a creator who does not discriminate art forms or labels when it comes to representing his stories and ideas. I compete to do things as well as the best person in that field. If it’s stand up I’m going to pull out all the stops from interesting concepts, that are personal to me and relatable to many, with clever jokes and unpredictable punchlines, surprising insights, and more than anything performance. Physical and energized with storytelling that puts the audience where I’m at. So funny you can watch it on mute. If it’s stand up, I want to be your favorite, the funniest dude you can think of. If I’m rapping I’m trying to impress, I want people to pull their headphones out and go “hold up, how?” I want my films to teleport people to another world and show them something they never thought they’d see or feel. One singular artist creating a vast portfolio of different projects, each of will feels like it’s coming from a different master in that craft. Honest and raw, never disappointing, always surprising. I want them to think, “Whatever he’s on now, it’s gonna be dope.” Stand up? Raps? An Action Comedy? Animated Show? I’m trying to be like COSCO, whatever you might want, I got it. And I got it in BULK. If you come to a show you might come in thinking “what can he do?” when you leave I want you thinking “what can’t he do?” …Ashtons cool though.

What brought you to the entertainment industry, comedy specifically?

The joy that comes with laughing, and from making people laugh always felt special to me. I think most people think laughing has its time and place and that it is just one color on the wheel and that it’s normal for it to come in small doses like being sad, angry, etc. But to me every time I laughed or made someone laugh it felt like I was doing magic, and like we were experiencing something special. And it’s unlimited! So the idea of getting to create magic on a daily basis? That was the closest I could get to having superpowers. I grew up on Eddie Murphy, Chris Tucker, Jim Carrey, The Wayans Brothers, Mike Meyers- these guys were larger than life to me as a kid. I spent hours emulating them, replicating the joy and creativity I could tell they were feeling when I watched them. It was so natural for me, and I became THE comedian for my friends and family. And I just wanted to keep moving in the direction of lighting people up with my own creativity. I’ve always had a deep compulsion to express my thoughts and feelings. And I’ve always had a creative way of doing so, and an interest in learning how to create. I’ve also always had a deep need to connect and be heard. And so many, bone-deep passions- for storytelling, joke-telling, drawing, music, film, comics, activated my sense of value. So I always knew I had something to contribute. That was unique to me, that no one else could know until I shared it. And when I did, what I thought and felt was echoed back to me, in the same way, I resonated with the lyrics of my favorite rappers and the jokes of my favorite comedians. It feels like I wasn’t brought TO comedy but that it was always just a song in me I knew by heart, as corny as that sounds. I don’t know what put it there, God, genetics, I don’t know but it was just my perspective as long as I can remember. An innate, inherent ability to see the hilarious aspect of everything. And I do believe there is a secret funniness to all things if you’re willing to see that perspective. I’ve always just been the voice of that perspective, automatically and effortlessly. As young as a toddler I had just found that comedy was just the word for the way I naturally communicate. 

What made you combine elements of Hip Hop with your routines and how do you perceive the relationship between comedy and the genre?

There are so many ways to tell a joke. A simple one-liner, a long acted out story… comedians who can do ventriloquism use puppets to tell their jokes. If I could do yoyo or juggle I would find a way to tell a joke with it. Bars are just such a good delivery system for punchlines, they force you to have word economy, to make every letter count and to use the most specific word choice. You have limited real-estate in a bar so you have to pick the words that are going to secretly program the visual you want to put in the listener’s head. It makes a difference if you say snake or serpent, what are the differences in images those words convey? Do you have the right amount of syllables to make the flow work if you chose one or the other? Does one sound more musical or rhyme more? There’s a fun game to writing your lyrics and the same rules apply for jokes. Certain words are funnier because they paint a different picture. Some roll off the tongue more, hit harder, sound smoother. If you can be honest and raw within all of that construction, that’s when you really are a master. The best emcee’s, the best comedians, your Chappelle and Chris Rock, Techn9ne and Eminem, they do that. So I do that. 

Comedy and Hip Hop, specifically stand up and rap are like brothers. They share elements of competition and autobiographical truth. We are the director, the writer, the actor; we do every job when it comes to delivering the whole story. The whole movie all in one. One voice behind a mic, driving the listener’s experience whether music or comedy. And the only rule in both art forms is to meet one technical criterion. Be funny/rhyme. Make them laugh/nod their head. Anything within that is up to you. Inspiring, silly, pop-y, whatever. And your only limitation is your own creativity. The genre is as diverse as it’s people. Kid Cudi is so unique, and so is Anderson Paak and they couldn’t be more different. Same with Hannibal Buress and Neko White. Or Childish and Lil Dicky. …And me! Endless types within one genre and individuality are our strength. The more yourself you can be, the further you can go. Especially if you have a lot to say; when that’s the case your material becomes limitless. Honesty is your total value. No point in getting on the mic if you’re not telling your truth. Who are you up there for? Just you. And they won’t connect if you’re not connecting. They are the same in terms of what it takes to be a GOAT. You have to score high in all categories. The K Dots, Coles, the Patrice O’Neals, and Bill Burrs. In hip hop it’s technical rhyming, flows, club hits, storytelling, bars, you got to do it all. In comedy, it’s act outs, one-liners, premises, voices, stories, and insight. That’s what a goat is made out of. That’s what I put into my work. 

I treat comedy like rappers treat hip hop. Because I’ve always understood how similar they are. They are two art forms, that whether we like it or not, place us in direct competition with each other. Comedy shows are usually at least six comedians back to back for 10 minutes apiece, you’re always trying to be better than the last comic, you’re always trying to have the best set of the show. IF you weren’t, there would be no reason to do it, and it makes the show great because everyone is bringing their A-game. Hip Hop is the same. There’s always another song on the playlist right after that, or a feature on the song from a different rapper coming up in 45 seconds who wants the top spot and so he’s gonna bring it. No other art form demands that it’s participants bring it fully every time. You gotta be at your best if you want the mic; if you want to be listened to. No half-stepping as Kane would say. No other art form respects itself and it’s craft as much as hip hop. Do you want in? Make it specific, make it beautiful, unique, fly, whatever you’re aiming for, you really can’t front. I love that, that is how I live my life. 100% of me in everything I do, you will remember me and what I need you to know.

How has your combination of the two arts been received by your audiences and the industry overall?

I think people are confused hahaha. At least at first. They want me to be one or the other. It’s not even uncommon anymore. But people always want to push me further into one box or label than the other. Lonely Island comedy raps or comedian who does impressions of rappers. Or even like Lil Dicky. People who see the raps first, tend to say stuff like “yo you can spit, but you’re mad funny though you should do like comedy raps.” And people who know me as a comic are like yo you’re like actually fire though, like you can really rap, just be a rapper.” But the people who follow me, who know my stuff, they’ve come to expect the unexpected. Last year I made a short film where I did martial arts and sword fighting. My goal is to continuously push the boundaries of what you can expect from me. When you suddenly dropping multisyllabic fast raps at a live comedy show it’s an exciting twist. No one expects it. As far as the industry, I think they love it. It makes the picture bigger. They brought me in for Wild N’ Out like 8 times but I think ultimately I wasn’t rapper enough or comedian enough. I don’t know, I’m just never going to lean into what people want me to be and instead just be everything I am all at once. I’m just one of those weirdos I guess that believes he can literally do anything. But at the same time, rapping and telling jokes you wrote are not THAT different, Tom Cruise will tell a girl he loves her in one scene and then literally fly a fighter jet or rock climb with no harness in the next and no one says he’s combining two things!? It’s like bruh, those are totally different skill sets! Ones acting, one’s EXTREME SPORTS!

Tell us a bit about your work and passions OUTSIDE of the entertainment business…

I’m a type 1 diabetic, I have been since I was a toddler. So my own health and fitness are really important to me. Physically and mentally. But also the diabetic community as a whole, showing kids that no matter what they might be dealing with- diabetes, and other health issues, they are still capable of doing awesome things. Challenges like that can build character and teach us lessons we apply in other places. So I’ve done some things for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and similar organizations. I grew up with those people helping take care of me so I want to give back there. 

That, and collecting Dragonball Z figurines. 

Last but not least, HYPE wants to know…What’s your CRAZIEST “Where

they do that at?!” aka WTF?! moment…I

One time, my older brother invited me to go out with his friends. I told him I had a show so I couldn’t join. He said it was gonna be “a crazy fun night” so that if I was going to miss it I “better make new fans and straight up have people pissing their pants,” it was his way of saying, make it count. so I went and did my show, it was fine, I don’t know if I made new fans let alone made someone pee in their pants. BUT, that night, my older brother was in line for the bathroom at a bar. The bar was packed, the line was long, and a bunch of aggro tough dudes really had to pee. Tensions were high. And a guy on line a few people behind my brother kept staring at him. My brother could feel him burning a hole in the back of his head. And my brother is not the type to leave a mean mug unaddressed. So he was at a crossroads, he was nearly at the stall. He could get out of line to confront this guy, losing his spot and likely end the night peeing in his pants, or, totally let it go, use the bathroom and go on with his night (*the correct option). But, homie wouldn’t stop looking over at my brother. What what was gonna burst first, the pee, or his cool? You guessed it. My brother gets out of line walks to the back of the line gets nose to nose with this guy and asks “Yo is there a reason you’re staring at me? Is there something I need to do to stop it?” The guy goes, “Yeah…. I AM SO SORRY, it’s just, are you a comedian? You look like this comedian I really like. I’m so sorry.” My brother responds, “My brothers a comedian…” The dude says, “Is he Nick Callas?” Brother says, “Yes.” Guy goes, “I’m a fan.” Brother, “…Nice.” Dude, “Ya’ll look just alike.”

My brother had to go to the back of the line after that, he would have ended up having to wait another 25 minutes to pee. He claims he just “left the bar found an alley and took a piss.” But deep down in my heart I know…. not only did I make a fan, I made my brother piss his pants.

@MrNickCallas on all socials.


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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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