Nicholle’s quirky personality and contagious laughter came out as she recounted her personal journey to the Power Thread. Nicholle Kun is a stand-up comedian, actress, and the Founder of Contagious Comedy. She is a cast member of the Off-Broadway comedy hit show, The Jackie Mason Musical, and she has produced shows at top NYC comedy clubs, such as The Comic Strip Live, Broadway Comedy Club, and, in 2 weeks, Stand Up NY. She also is a member and has produced shows at the legendary Friar’s Club.
Tell me about growing up in Ohio and moving to New York, and how you began doing stand-up comedy.
I have been in New York for a really long time now, probably seventeen years. I grew up in Ohio and lived a “normal” life before I decided that I needed more of a challenge.
Some of my college friends lived in NYC and I was like, why not move to New York? And I did! I was working on selling advertising on the Howard Stern morning radio show and a K-ROCK station. I even was featured on the Howard Stern show and felt the thrill of being on radio and going off script.
Fast forward seventeen years later, I want to continue finding purpose and fun outside of working in advertising. I want to make people laugh and enjoy themselves! I remember the comedy scene in Columbus, Ohio, and there wasn’t a lot going on. There were only one or two comedy clubs, and I remember how the comedian would make the whole audience burst into laughter. Eventually I realized that I wanted to do comedy and to start my own production company!
“Just put yourself out there and have fun! Be passionate, aggressive, and focused. Never let anybody get in your way or knock you down.”
Tell me about Contagious Comedy.
Contagious Comedy is my production company. We do anything from charity fundraising to corporate company events. Purpose and meaning have always been an important part of Contagious Comedy. Our first show was in Columbus, Ohio, at the Funnybone Comedy Club. One of my best friends in high school passed away from a blood disorder called Thalassemia. I wanted to do the show in her honor twenty years after she left us. We ended up raising over $30,000 for a good cause. That was my jump into comedy production, and it made me want to do much more.
So how do you make people laugh?
Being real makes people laugh. I guess I have always been quirky myself. It is just part of my personality to bring joy and laughter, and I want to “infect” everyone with my “contagion,” as I call it. With my Contagious Comedy, the tagline is “You’ll want to catch it.” If I can spread the laughter to people who are having a horrible day, and put a smile on their faces at the end of the day, that would be mission accomplished for me.
What is challenging about being a comic in New York?
There is a lot of competition. There is a limited amount of comedy clubs and a bunch of talent. You have the best of the best here. You’ve got to find what makes you stand out and shine, and magnify it to tell your story. The challenge is really just figuring out what makes me unique and how to stand out above the rest.
So, what makes you unique as a comedian?
I think of myself as a quirky, single girl living in New York City, who always gets into crazy situations. I have had people ask me after a show, “Did that really happen to you?” Usually, it is true to a degree, but it is an exaggeration of the truth. That’s what comedy is. I tell the story from my own experiences, but I make it into something that is relatable to the audience.
What are your long-term goals for comedy?
Initially, I just wanted to tell my story and bring a smile to people’s faces, and I love that many of my shows are for a purpose. My goal is to make Contagious Comedy a national brand that, when you say the name, people light up and immediately recognize it. I would love to even have a comedy special on HBO or Netflix. I am trying to think bigger, take my career to a higher level, and bring laughter to more people.
“In comedy, it is powerful to turn the negativity into positivity using humor and have everyone join in with you.”
What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a career in comedy?
Just put yourself out there and have fun! Be passionate, aggressive, and focused. Never let anybody get in your way or knock you down. People will tell you that you are not good and not funny enough. Find out who you are and just hone in on that!
What makes you powerful?
Laughter is so powerful. It is healing. We are so stressed in our everyday lives, and there is so much negativity. In comedy, it is powerful to turn the negativity into positivity using humor and have everyone join in with you. For me, personally, I get kicked around every day from trying to make things happen. Power for me is when I get knocked down, I return to the ring with my gloves and fight back stronger and better. Focus on your passion, look straight ahead, and don’t detour.
You mentioned that your earrings bring you power. Tell me more!
These earrings have a special place in my heart. After I produced the show to commemorate my friend who passed away from Thalassemia, her mother came up to me. She is such a powerful, strong woman, and she gave me her daughter’s special earrings. Now, whenever I feel down or need an extra push at a comedy show, I put these earrings on and I turn into a superhero. They give me a special energy.