“I’m Nick Sahoyah and I’m sitting in a chair.”
Nick does a soundcheck for me, as I try and determine the best placement for the recorder in the din of the coffee shop.
Nick Sahoyah is a Washington, DC born, Washington state raised comic, writer, and producer. He’s 25 and a half years old.
“How old do you have to be before you stop using the half,” I ask him.
“26”, he replies, with a chuckle.
He’s been doing comedy for just over three years. His first performance was in May of 2010, at a coffee shop across the street from his apartment that had a regular Friday stand up night.
“I always told myself there was no way that I could do stand up comedy,” he confesses. “It just takes confidence, it takes diligence, and it takes practice in a way that I’m not willing to commit myself.”
But commit himself he did. What started out as sort of a hobby, he called it, with occasional weekly performances, has developed into a burgeoning comedy career, with performances nearly every night of the week. That doesn’t mean that his fears have been entirely dispelled, however.
“It’s so hard to get up onstage,” he tells me. “You never now how many people are gonna be there. You never know how many people are gonna be willing to laugh. You never know who’s just gonna absolutely hate the material top to bottom.”
I have to admit, it does sound a little daunting. But with enough perseverance, anything’s possible.
“You just gotta work on it,” he says. “You have to find out what people like. You have to find out what works for different audiences. There’s a whole science to it, almost.”
The science of stand comedy? I smell a book title there.
“It’s a lot of work,” he adds. “It’s a lot of going to open mic nights and spending all your money on cheap beer.”
I think that my act sometimes portrays some of those inner feelings. Just because I’ll be talking about things in a way that most gay comedians don’t, just because I’m a little abrasive and a little crass. It’s hard to compare because there aren’t too many young, gay, male comedians.”
But Nick is serious about his comedy, which is a good thing because, even in this age of LGBT comics in the mainstream, outside of the world of drag queens and Logo TV, a queer comedian is still far from mainstream. Nick has an earnestness, and a sincerity, though, that is very endearing, and will likely help him go far.
“I talk about sex, and I talk about drinking, I talk about pot, which I guess I can admit since it’s legal now,” he tells when I ask him about his act.
I ask him if there are any subjects that are off the table.
“I don’t do a lot of race,” he admits. “I think I’ve only done one or two race jokes the entire time I’ve done comedy. Other than that, I can’t think of any taboos. It’s just sort of what pops into my head. I don’t consider myself to be that edgy. I just talk a lot about me.”
And that is what’s at the root of any good performance, really; comedy, or drama, or what have you. It’s that sort of intense introspection, combined with enough exhibitionism to want to share it all in front of an audience. It could be narcism, except so much of comedy is based on making fun of our flaws.
Part of being a queer public figure, of course, is the responsibility to act as a sort of spokesperson to the non-queers. Because, for every success story like Nick’s, there are hundreds, if not thousand of stories that don’t yet have a happy ending. And some that may never.
It’s comedy, though, that makes these issues accessible. And, for a spokesperson, we could certainly do a lot worse than Nick Sahoyah.
One issue that seems important to Nick is the issue of gender identity.
“I find it interesting,” he confides, “that our LGBT community is so often just LGB. I feel like no one ever talks about gender queer people, which is so weird because, by the standards of a hundred years ago, I’m just as weird as someone who’s in transition to another gender.”
Nick’s onstage persona is one of a gay male, just as in real life. But his onstage look could be described as androgynous, and that’s somewhat deliberate on his part.
“I have a lot of friends who do drag,” he says, “so whenever I can find something that’s, not breaking down masculinity, but poking fun at it, I always like to embrace that.”
And thus, while other queer comics push the comedy envelope away from the straight world, Nick pushes it even further.
“I think that my act sometimes portrays some of those inner feelings,” he agrees, “just because I’ll be talking about things in a way that most gay comedians don’t, just because I’m a little abrasive and a little crass. It’s hard to compare because there aren’t too many young, gay, male comedians.”
In addition to his stand up, Nick also writes and produces. He is, of course, one of the geniuses behind the Monsoon Season web series, besides Ms. Monsoon herself. He also hosts an open mic comedy night on Fridays at 7:30, at Scratch Deli.
In addition, Nick, along with Billy Anderson and the Seattle Theater Group, is producing Out & In, a Pride Comedy Showcase. This free show at Seattle’s Neptune Theatre kicks off Pride week on Tuesday, June 25, with a fabulous lineup of local and national queer and queer-friendly comedians, including Rick Taylor, Leah Mansfield, Derek Sheen, and Solomon Georgio. It promises to be a fabulous show, and will be worth checking out, even if only to see what kind of meggings Nick decides to wear.
But whichever of these free opportunities to see Nick perform you decide to take advantage of, be sure and do it soon. The way this guy’s star is rising, his shows probably won’t be free for much longer.