Actor/comedian Nick Thune spoke to Solzy at the Movies with the release of Dave Made A Maze this upcoming Friday.
Thanks for joining Solzy at the Movies today. How are things treating you?
Nick Thune: Things are treating me pretty well.
Dave Made A Maze pays homage to the great adventure films of the 1980s. What’s your favorite adventure film of that era?
Nick Thune: It’s hard to say because you look back—Goonies—but I wasn’t as into those types. I was into Stand By Me kind of stuff—a little more emotional—so then I started to watch more Indiana Jones and stuff. I forgot I loved those movies when they came out. I just never watched them again. I think it had a very basic action-adventure. What was that? I never really liked the one with Arnold Schwarzenegger…the one…shoot. Well, this is going to be a great interview (Laughs). Sorry. The Last Action Hero—I liked that one.
What were your initial thoughts when you read the script for Dave Made A Maze?
Nick Thune: When I first got the script, I thought Bill Watterson—the creator of Calvin and Hobbes—was directing it. I got the script via email from David Wain, who knew the editor and the editor said the director was interested me. So I read it and loved it and said I’d go meet him. On the way out to the meeting, I found out that it wasn’t Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes. It was actually just William Watterson, young writer/director kind of guy. I was already getting off the exit when I got the call.
I loved the meeting. I loved the script. I loved that they had a whole warehouse and were already building all these parts of the movie. It seemed like such a cool thing. Generally, when you see creative people working hard towards a goal, it’s the kind of thing I want to be involved in.
How did you feel when the film won the Audience Award at Slamdance this past January?
Nick Thune: I was so excited. I’ve been a part of a lot of—I’m sure there’s been plenty of people that have been doing this or more but a lot of films where you make it and it just kind of goes away and you’re part of something. When you make something and these people carry it all the way to getting it to the festival. How people reacted to it at the festival, the buzz—It sold out a screening and they added another screening and that sold out. It’s really fun to be a part of something that people are responding to.
Frank Caeti was in the first Second City show I saw back when TourCo stopped on campus in 2003. What was it like working with him?
Nick Thune: He was great. He’s such a nice guy. In fact, in the middle of making the movie, I was asked to throw the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game. So for the week leading up to that, I was showing to the set with two baseball gloves. Frank was out with me in the street getting me, throwing the ball, and getting me warmed up.
Nice! The director and co-writer, Bill Watterson, describes The Maze as being a metaphor for the creative process. What do you make of that?
Nick Thune: Yeah, I think so. I think that’s what attracted me to the character. My main job—what I started doing is stand-up comedy. You don’t have a boss. You don’t have somebody telling you to go to work every day. You don’t have somebody making you to clock in. You’re your only employee. You’re the boss and the hell with it. I know how easy it is when you’re working alone to get sidetracked. I’ve been in that character gaze—kind of that stagnant area where you’re not hot, you’re not cold, you’re just kind of lukewarm. You’re just kind of walking around in a daze. I know what it feels like when you just kind of hit a stride all of a sudden. Oh my gosh, there’s a right way to do this and you realize that oh, there’s like joke writing or whatever. Oh, if I keep doing this little turn and you keep working and I think that’s what happened with the maze. He just started making it like I can go deeper. I can go even deeper. I can take it all the way.
You were also in Mr. Roosevelt, a film that premiered at SXSW and played the Chicago Critics Film Festival in May. The film is still awaiting release but how did you get involved with that production?
Nick Thune: Noel called me. I never met her—actually, I have met her because I auditioned for her TV show and she didn’t pick me. I auditioned for the role of the boyfriend in the TV show and didn’t get it. Then it came up for a role to be her ex-boyfriend and she thought I was perfect for it.
I’m still waiting for the rest of the country to finally see this film.
Nick Thune: Yeah, I’m excited for people to see that. I think that in the fall, it’s going to be happening.
I know I just got credentialed for SXSW as of the other day and the big part for me is what’s going to happen with the bathroom bills. If those pass, it’s pretty much a Texas boycott.
Nick Thune: Is that a thing in Austin?
Well, it’s not so much Austin because there one of the most liberal cities in Texas but I would feel very uncomfortable giving my tax dollars to the state when they’re sending the message that people like me aren’t welcome there.
Nick Thune: I would, too. I hope they don’t keep moving backwards.
When did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
Nick Thune: It’s hard to say. I was always fascinated by it. I loved when Comedy Central was more stand-up based. When I was younger, it was really a place where I could go and just kind of see what I thought was at the time—now I think its not but at the time, I thought it must have been one of the hardest jobs in the world: to memorize all those words, to learn all that stuff, to get the timing right, to talk to people for that long and think of all the work that goes into it.
Then I saw and I listened to Mitch Hedberg and think, “Oh, I can do that.” I just thought like “Wow.” This encouraged me into thinking that this is something I might be able to do and not because I thought that I was capable of being as funny or witty as him but just because finally someone is speaking in the sense like I can figure it out in my voice. Kind of like that. I think I was 21-22 about 16 years ago
What do you tell someone when they tell you that they want to be a comedian?
Nick Thune: Here’s the thing—in the YouTube age, people think they can just put content up and think they’re going to be famous. With some people, that’s obviously been the case. The only way to get good at stand-up is to be falling on your face constantly and going up on stage every second of the day if you can. Every second that you can be on the stage, you should be there whether it’s an hour-long drive or a five-minute walk. I used to drive down to Carlsbad for a set for no money. If you live in LA, you know it’s an hour drive just to do five minutes. That’s how much it meant to me. And I think that’s what I tell people that you have to jump in full board and not expect anything to come back to you until you’re worth it.
Is there another actor, comedian, or filmmaker that you would like to work with if given the opportunity?
Nick Thune: All of them (laughs). I want to work with all of them. There’s obviously people in Los Angeles or something that I would kill to work with. I’ve had opportunities to audition for certain things that I wish I could have got. I really just want to work with my friends though. If I get the opportunity to work with someone big, that’s great. To me, I’ve found that now that I’ve been doing it a little bit, the most fun I’ve had is when I’m with the people that I love—that I like to work with. If I could do that on a bigger level, that would be great.
Are you working on anything right now?
Nick Thune: I’m running a TV show right now. I wrote it and somebody passed on it after they paid me to write it and then somebody else just bought it. That’s going to be coming out soon, hopefully.
Nick Thune: Thank you.
I know I took Writing for TV and Film through Second City and finished with an outline for a sitcom pilot. Given how important it is to get trans stories out there, I’m going the indie film route.
Nick Thune: Rather than a TV show?
Yeah. I just think it’s going to be too much work to develop and then try and sell it. With indie films, there’s the festival circuit.
Nick Thune: Well, the show that I sold was very difficult because it had a religious aspect to it in the sense that it’s a workplace comedy that takes place at a church. But it’s not religious at all. It’s not about G-d or showing G-d. It would like if The Office—assuming it’s about religion would be like assuming The Office is about pape, which its not at all. Selling that show was tough. It took a year and a half to get to here. We’re just now dealing with lawyers getting back into the deal again. TV these days—unless you’re a superstar, it’s going to take a long time.
Thanks again for your time.
Nick Thune: Thank you.
Gravitas Ventures will release Dave Made A Maze on Friday.