Comedian Nick Thune and Singer-Songwriter Damien Jurado Talk About Their Tour That Comes to the Beachland on Jan. 26

click to enlarge Nick Thune - Courtesy of Pam Loshak
Courtesy of Pam Loshak
Nick Thune
Sad Music, Sad Comedy, a tour featuring comedian/actor Nick Thune and singer-songwriter Damien Jurado, finds the two artists sharing headlining duties (and collaborating together too).

Thune, who'll appear in the HBO Max romantic comedy anthology series Love Life alongside Anna Kendrick, also recently shot the ABC drama pilot Heart of Life, inspired by the John Mayer song of the same name. He's also released two hour standup specials — Nick Thune: Good Guy and Nick Thune: Folk Hero.

Jurado started making albums in the late '90s and last year released his first acoustic album, In the Shape of a Storm.

They bring their tour to the Beachland on Sunday, Jan. 26.

During a recent conference call, Thune, who said he was relaxing in a hot tub, and Jurado, who said he was sitting in his Christmas pajamas in his recliner, spoke about the tour.

Can you each talk about your backgrounds a bit. Damien, what drew you to music and Nick, what drew you to comedy?
I stated out doing visual art as a kid. I grew up in a big family of Mormons. That fizzled out. At around 11 or 12, I got into hardcore music and was into that. I played in hardcore bands until I was 19. In 1994, I put out my first cassette of acoustic music. I signed to Sub Pop Records and did four records with them. In 2001, I signed to Secretly Canadian, and I just signed with Mama Bird Recording. That’s me in a nutshell.
Thune: I started performing at church. They brought me as the funny guy to do announcements. It was like, “Don’t park over there; park over there.” I found a lot of fun bringing humor into this very serious place. I realized the audience of the church is something not to learn to perform to the real world. I got some stage chops and started performing at poetry open mics as a serious poet but I was really messing with the audience and then started doing standup. I moved from Seattle to L.A. because I wanted to go to a city where I didn’t know anyone. I just wanted to fail in front of people who didn’t know me. Bombing on stage in Seattle in front of people I went to school with got old. It just happened quickly. I got up in front of the right people. A month later, I was on The Tonight Show, and two months later, they had me back. I started to making a name for myself in the comedy world. I got deals with Comedy Central and Netflix. I’ve been acting and doing standup ever since.

How did you first meet? What were your initial impressions one another?
We met at a [singer-songwriter] Richard Swift memorial. We’re friends with Richard. I knew everything Damien had put out. I was a fan. Richard had talked about him, and I knew a little about their working relationship. I had seen live performances and was glad to meet him.
Jurado: Same thing for me. I first knew about Nick through Richard. I knew about Nick and being a fan of comedy, I knew Nick’s name and heard his animals. I did a show at [the L.A. club] Largo that he put together. I was not impressed at all. His comedy is great but personally, I wasn’t that impressed. Hopefully, this tour can fix that.
Thune: I’m just here to serve. I’m also working as tour manager on this tour.

How did the concept for the tour come together?
We had a fun time doing a show together. It’s fun. As a musician, you get used to touring in other bands and with other musicians. As a comedian, vice versa. So I’m constantly looking for a way to make what I do more fun. I’m trying to give the audience a unique, in-the-moment experience. Doing stuff like this helps create that.

Is there a precedent for this tour? Was there another comedy and music tour that you looked to for inspiration?
I’ve done a few rock club tours and I opened for the Mates of States once and have done shows with local bands. I don’t know how many coheadlining tours have been done like this. I can’t think of one. I know it’s usually one or the other opening. Our stuff is radically different but it works well together. People know it’s not just a comedy or a music show. It’s a full experience that’s about a performance. We also do stuff together as well.
Jurado: I open and Nick closes out the night, but we also do stuff together as well.

Damien, can you talk about your new album, In the Shape of a Storm. The songs are really beautiful. Did you want to do something differently this time around?
I never set out to accomplish much when it comes to the records. I just want to put them out there. When I did that record, I took so long that fans would wondering what was going on. My records tend to have lots of production going on, but my live sets are different. They’re more stripped down. I like having that contrast. I thought maybe it was time to give them an acoustic record. That was my driving decision. I wanted to make it acoustic. I had never done one before. We did it in like an hour-and-a-half or two hours. It’s all live in one take.

Nick, can you talk about what was it like to make your two comedy specials?
I love the experience. The difference between music and comedy is that material for comedy is built on the road. There’s no way to write something and think, “I think people are going to like this.” You do get better at knowing whether something will work or not, but it’s not anything until it’s performed live and built in front of a live audience. After enough time of doing that, you get to dump it. You get to perform an hour of stuff they haven’t heard that you have dialed in, and then, it’s over. It’s weird that way. You can’t really tour on it anymore. Making an album, you your write it and then tour behind it. It’s a backwards way of doing it. There are so many comedy specials coming out and the problem is that lots of people are putting them out and just kind of doing it. It used to be that people would wait ten years to put out a special. I want mine to be dynamic and well thought out to every breath. Right now, I’m building the next one and I want to take my time knowing that I can take my time touring and make it perfect. I need to find the right home too. Someone wanted me to put one out next month and it’s not there yet. The tour is where you really put it together.

How’d you come up with the name? “Sad” music and comedy makes it sound like it’s going to be lame since “sad” has that connotation.
Maybe [Lame Music, Lame Comedy Tour] would have been a better name. I wish we would’ve named it that.

Any great memories from performing in Cleveland in the past?
Thune: The last time I was there, Boyz II Men and Backstreet Boys were co-headlining. I view myself as Boyz II Men and Damien as Backstreet Boys, so I feel like we’re coming back.

Sad Music, Sad Comedy, 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124. Tickets: $25 ADV, $28 DOS,

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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