Comic Earthquake tells Jalen Rose how military prepped him for comedy – New York Post
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When Earthquake — government name: Nathaniel Stroman — was starting as a stand-up comedian, he had trouble getting booked. So he vented to his mother, who dished out some sage advice.
“She said, ‘What did I tell you? Never get mad at a man that won’t let you ride his bike. You either get your own bike or don’t ride at all.’ So I went and I got my own comedy club,” he told me on this week’s “Renaissance Man.”
In the early ’90s, the Washington, DC, native opened Uptown Comedy Corner in Atlanta — a city he chose because he saw a CNN poll that said it was the best place for “black males to prosper.” It was a wise decision. At the time, Atlanta was becoming the center of Southern hip-hop, with Outkast leading the charge. Also they had some pretty sweet strip clubs like Magic City, where I first met Earthquake.
He admits that he was at the jiggle joint so often, a man told him he’d never seen anyone at the place so frequently. When Earthquake asked the man if he came there a lot, he responded, “I own it.” Eventually, the owner, aptly named Magic, would send his patrons to Uptown Comedy Corner, and Earthquake would bring all the comedians to the club.
It was a true gentlemen’s agreement, and a fruitful one at that. Earthquake went on to have roles on “Everybody Hates Chris” and “The Neighborhood.” He frequently collaborates with Kevin Hart, and Dave Chappelle produced his Netflix special, “Legendary.” In the new year, he’s kicking off a tour with legends Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, D.L. Hughley and DC Young Fly.
Before that, he was in the Air Force. He enlisted because, well: “I wanted to get out my mother’s house. And they was the first one that would get me out. She was hollering at me for free, so might as well go in, get hollered at and get a check.” It was the best move because it gave him the discipline to be a comedian — “be there on time, keep your word … There’s no excuses.”
It also opened up his world beyond his hometown, which he noted was pretty segregated.
The service “taught me that, you know, we are all the same. We just do things different,” he said. “It just opened my eyes and it got me to see the world … More than anything, it allowed me to see exactly what the world is and who people are other than the narrative that was given … And when I finally got to be around white folks and be around different races, I found out … we just got more in common than we got different.”
He was enlisted for nine years, working with nuclear weapons for a living. Then Desert Storm happened.
“I was like, ‘Listen. I don’t mind practicing for war, but y’all fighting for real. It’s time for me to go on cap on out. I could have stayed home and got shot at.’” When he left the military, he started comedy almost by accident. He took a woman out on a date to a comedy club and she was laughing like a hyena at a dude he didn’t think was funny. So she challenged Earthquake to give it a try. And the rest is history.
We also spoke about his very funny friend David A. Arnold, who recently passed away. He said David’s death broke his heart. “We rooted for each other.”
Earthquake is a man who has seen the world. And with Election Day upon us, I wanted to know why he thinks it’s important to vote.
“Just think if you live in Russia right now. You came to work as a basketball player and they told you no. Today you go fight at the front line of Ukraine. Here is a gun without no training. At least here you have a choice … Even if there is a shortcoming where you’re at, you still appreciate how blessed you are to live in this great country. [And] if you don’t like how this country is, you can make a change [by voting].”
So take his advice. And his mother’s too. We all need our own bikes.
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He executive produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book, “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker, and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.