Nick Kocher is the person I’ve known the longest. He was born in January 1986 and was a quiet baby until, three months later, his mother brought him to the hospital to visit me right after I was born. He and his mother rounded the hallway of the hospital and that’s when the screaming started. He used to hate coming over to our house growing up because my brother and I would teach him cuss words and tell him about the real world, which disturbed him greatly. At some point, his fear of me subsided and he became one of my closest friends.
Today, he is an actor/writer/comedian living in Los Angeles. He is responsible for writing, producing, acting, and editing this YouTube video (with over 1.9 million views) in just a weekend. He is one-half of the comedy duo, BriTANick, and performs stand-up, sketch, and improv regularly. I wanted to know more about where comedy has taken him.
Comedy requires a lot of travel. You often perform at sketch comedy festivals and colleges. What is on a comedian’s travel itinerary? What do you pack in your suitcase?
Before I moved to LA from New York, there were frequent trips to the west coast. It’s important to go to LA for pilot season, so all the networks can see you in person and go “No, thank you, too ugly.” Some comedians perform out of town every weekend, for us it’s more sporadic. The occasional college or festival. In my suitcase: consistently there’ll be two more changes of clothes than I actually need. A toiletry bag. And props. Depends on the show we’re doing but often there’s a large fake knife, a silly shakespearean shirt, an old timey hat, fake blood, and two helmets. That’s if it’s a light show. I’ve definitely packed a sillier suitcase than that.
What are some of the most memorable performances/audiences/venues?
When we played Brandeis, we thought we’d been officially hired for the school’s comedy festival. But it turned out we’d been brought out by just one student. She had gotten into an argument with the faculty who organized the official comedy festival and said something to the effect of, “I can throw a better comedy festival than you.” So it turned out we were playing the unofficial comedy festival thrown out of spite by a single student. The venue was a coffee shop in the middle of the day. I still have no idea if we were even allowed to be there. We couldn’t black out in between sketches because the coffee shop had huge windows through which daylight was streaming through. So in between sketches we told everyone to close their eyes while we did the scene transition. As slapped together as this show was, we had a lot of fun and it still remains one of our favorites.
You do a lot of travel for fun. What impact does that have on your work? Why is it important?
Traveling for fun hurts work in that it takes you away from it. But it helps work, because inevitably, good stories will come out of it.
It’s often hard to fill seats for theatrical shows. There is a strong social element to your work. Many of your friends and fans come out to support BriTANick on a regular basis. What makes BriTANick so socially sticky?
No idea. We try not to worry about promotion too much. We believe if you work hard and deliver a good live show/video/whatever that people will find it eventually and if it’s really good they’ll keep coming back. In promoting things, I just try to have as much fun with it as I can (designing silly posters, making jokes within promotional tweets).
Who/what made you laugh growing up?
I loved the comic strips in newspapers. Specifically Calvin and Hobbes and Foxtrot. I strongly believe those two strips were how I learned to be funny.
What drew you to comedy?
As a kid I was often teased and bullied. Things started to turn around when I took a page out of a bullies’ book and began making fun of myself. When people are laughing they have a hard time being mean to you. I like when people are not mean to me.
When did you realize you were good at making an audience laugh?
Well I really enjoyed comedy movies, the funny pages, and standup. I would often just parrot back to my friends the funny lines from various things and that would make them laugh. In my experience that’s how a lot of comedians got their start. By stealing. I did that, then I would change a few words to make it funnier in my eyes. Then eventually I began making up whole jokes.
I loved stories. Personal stories about something interesting that happened over the weekend, or in math class, whatever. I loved telling them and I loved hearing them. I started noticing that whenever I would relate my version of something that had happened, people would laugh even if I wasn’t trying to be funny. I always liked comedy, but I fell like I kinda fell backwards into being funny. I don’t quite understand it.
You studied acting at NYU and remained in New York City for the better part of a decade afterwards. What made you decide to stay in New York City after college and how did that influence you?
I just really loved New York. I still do. It inspires me, there’s always something going on, and you don’t have to drive. I hate driving. I’m glad I spent my twenties in New York. Plenty of people have said this in the past, but I think it’s true: You go to New York to get good at your art, then move to LA to make money off of it. The first part is way more fun.
Check Him Out
- A great comic he wrote about the Syrian Refugee Crisis
- A New York Times piece he wrote about growing up
- A New York Observer piece he wrote about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro
- So many excellent BriTANick videos
- One of my favorite Twitter accounts