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Socialite Life Chats with Comedian Nick Sahoyah

Socialite Life Chats with Comedian Nick Sahoyah

Nick Sahoyah

Comedian Nick Sahoyah may not be a household name (yet), but he’s making a splash on stage and screen.

A successful stand-up based in San Francisco, Nick has been able to parlay his sharp sense of humor from the comedy clubs of California to the world. If he looks familiar, he should, if you’re a Drag Race fan.

Nick currently co-stars with season five winner Jinkx Monsoon on the hilarious World of Wonder web series “Cool Mom”. Socialite Life had the chance to talk to Nick about working on the series – and performing with a lot of Drag Race favorites – as well as how he got his start in comedy.

We also got Nick to share more about himself by answering the Socialite Seven, so get to know this very funny performer in our exclusive interview.

Socialite Life: I loved hearing you on Mano Agapion’s podcast, “Drag Her”.

Nick Sahoyah: Thank you. I listen to that podcast every week and it’s fun to be on the things that you listen to.

How did you and Mano become friends?

I met him at Drag Con because he has a press credential for “Drag Her” and I was just there hanging out because if you do WOW stuff, they just tell you to come and hang out and take pictures and stuff. We ran into him backstage. He was hanging out with Betsy Sodaro and I just introduced myself and then we became friends.

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How did you get your start in comedy?

There was an open mic across the street from my first apartment in Seattle. They had a big canvas sign in front of it every Friday that said, “Free comedy tonight” and I would look across the street and everyone looked like they were having fun.

I just wandered in there one week and I went back the week after that and I got on stage and a few years later, I was running that mic. It’s one of those things that happens. 

How did you get involved with Jinkx Monsoon?

We met at a Dresden Dolls concert – they were like a queer-adjacent cabaret with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe – and I really got into them for some reason. Me and a bunch of my queer friends from the suburbs drove into Seattle to see the Dresden Dolls at the Showbox. The line was around the corner and while you were waiting in line there were these two people in sort of the Dresden Doll aesthetic makeup – white face, rosy cheeks, a kind of Victorian vibe – and they were lip-syncing along to “Coin Operated Boy.”

We were watching them and throwing them tips and stuff – it was really funny because it turned out to be Jinkx and her friend Etienne. I got pulled up on stage during one of the songs and then I was hanging out on the side of the stage talking to them because they were performing – they were doing act-outs of the songs as the Dresden Dolls were performing. It was a very trippy thing.

And then we all just met up after the concert and we went up to the Dick’s on Broadway. We found each other on MySpace years later and I got mono and she took care of me when I was really sick. It’s a long, weird story (laughs.)

Has Jinkx encouraged you to do drag?

No, not really. I think I’ve only gotten into a female-presenting drag less than five times in my whole life. I’ve done gender fuck quite a lot. Usually when I’m “in drag”, I’m just wearing a fur coat and some mesh and, you know, party boy stuff. That’s just kind of my simple aesthetic. [Jinkx] gave me my drag name. It really wasn’t about the performance for me with drag, it was just sort of the visual aspect.

She gave me my drag name because we were going to an all-ages club in Portland called The Escape – I think it’s still there – and she was the queen of the pageant that year, she won the pageant, and she was in her reign. And, I think for her step-down ceremony, we performed Sweeney Todd together. She was Mrs. Lovett and I was Sweeney Todd…so that’s kind of always how I’ve fit in the drag thing like whenever I perform with her, I have been the guy from Die Antwoord or Sweeney or the sort of male equivalent she needs to make the number work.  

So how did “Cool Mom” come about?

We used to make these movies during the same time I was hanging out with the Monsoon drag family. I got this idea that we could do a queer Curb Your Enthusiasm with queer 20-somethings, and we would shoot in on a camcorder in her house and we did.

We would do a few episodes a year for about five years on and off and, by the end of it, we had all of this mythology about me being Jinkx’s son and there’s a mystery surrounding who his father and there’s this whole, weird backstory between us from those old videos. They’re kind of hard to find at this point, but a lot of them are on my Vimeo right now.

Anyway, WOW wanted to do something with Jinkx, and we were like, “Well, if you want, we could film some sketches and edit them and send them to you and you can put them on WOW Presents”, but they really wanted to work within the existing format.

It was right when “UNHhhh” was moving to Vice and they were really trying to fill in the gaps, so they were throwing out greenlights. We got greenlit alongside three other shows from Drag Race girls, and I think we’re the only one that survived, because Bob the Drag Queen got really busy!

Is there going to be a fourth season of “Cool Mom”?  

Yes, definitely! We are already talking about recording again in February. We don’t have a date nailed down yet, but usually, we record them in chunks of like six to eight [episodes].

We only got to film one time all last year, it seemed like it was less of a gap because they held onto some of the season two episodes for a little longer. But hopefully, we’ll shoot multiple chunks next year, so that there can be a wave of “Cool Mom” coming all through 2020. I’m sure we’ll need them.

Are the “Cool Mom” episodes scripted or more ad-libbed?

I would say 90% of it is just ad-libbed. We come up with the ideas for the episodes beforehand, which gives us a little to work with and, occasionally, I’ll drop in with 30 seconds of my stand-up act and Jinkx will pull in a minute of a story that she told in Provincetown a hundred times.

Those parts do feel a little more scripted because they’re coming from our act and from our Rolodex of jokes but for the most part, we give them the topic and Pete, who’s really awesome, he’s our director, throws ideas at us. Some of them land and some of them don’t and we record for an hour and they edit down to a really funny eight minutes.

I love the bloopers.

The bloopers are really fun. I would say personally I have the most fun watching the bloopers.

In addition to working with Jinkx, you’ve also worked a lot with Peaches Christ. What projects have you done with her?

The most recent one I did was “Mean Gays” a Mean Girls parody with Willam as Regina George and it Laganga [Estranga], Kim Chi and Roz Drezfalez from LA who is also awesome. It was really, really fun.

Previously, I had done “Sheetlejuice” which was a Beetlejuice parody with Bianca [Del Rio] as Sheetle. I was also Max in “Hocus Pocus”, which is when I met Bob, because he was filling in for the part BenDeLaCreme used to play. She came in and played the Kathy Najimy role. That’s when I got to meet her. She was really funny. She’s a kook!

In addition to more “Cool Mom”, what other projects do you have on the horizon?

We have the podcast abut old episodes of Untucked, called “Interior Delusions.” It’s me and my friend, Jason LeRoy, who’s a really funny local film critic here in San Francisco. We’ve already recorded some episodes with Jinkx Monsoon and Peaches Christ. We’re sitting on them because we don’t have album art for iTunes yet! So, that will come out whenever we get around to hiring a graphic designer. It will be fun. I’ve already edited a couple of the episodes together and I think it’s got a cute little flow to it.

Maybe some film stuff coming up, nothing I can announce, but I want to do another film. I haven’t done one since Poster Boy, and that was five years ago at this point. So, I’ve been toying with doing something on that scale, doing something smaller, doing something bigger, I’m not sure – but more film somewhere! I also have a show in the Castro, so if you’re ever in San Francisco on the first Wednesday, come to Blush Wine Bar. It’s always a queer lineup and it’s been really fun so far and they have wine, so you can just drink wine! It’s called Legs for Days. It’s free but we will guilt you for tip money.

Nick Answers the Socialite Seven

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

Ooh, that’s a really big one. I think for different parts of what I like to do, there’s different people, but for all of the drag-related stuff, I definitely look to John Waters. I think that the spirit of what I saw in Pink Flamingos and Hairspray and Cry Baby – I especially love Cry Baby – I think those movies made me not worry so much about it looking like a professional movie.

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His movies aren’t technically excellent until he starts to get a bigger budget and I just realized that something can look very DIY and still be as funny or as heartfelt as the stuff you’re seeing in theaters. It was really inspiring for me…and obviously working with drag queens…same kind of deal.

Who do you think is the most underrated person in comedy right now?

So, I’ve got to cheat and say, two people, because it’s the two people who have gotten me through some hard times in comedy and are always pointing me in the right direction. That’s James Adomian, who’s a really masterful impressionist and he does a ton of V.O. work. You’ve probably heard him in something and didn’t even realize it.

I would also say Guy Branum, who acts a little bit but is primarily a writer and stand-up is sort of his constant thing he’s always doing. So, when he’s writing a lot, he’s doing stand-up a little bit. When he’s not writing, he’s like “I’m going to put all of my energy in stand-up.” That is sort of what I’ve tried to model my workload after.

I think both of those guys were really inspiring to me – and also just the fact that two gay men can succeed in stand-up because it’s hard. There’s maybe one or two national headliners who are gay males as far as stand-up goes. It’s a very daunting thing to decide that you want to be a gay stand-up, because there’s clearly no market for it. But we keep pushing it – there’s just more and more and there’s too many funny men doing stand-up right now for them to be ignored anymore.

I think we’re finally turning a corner. But I started ten years ago.  There wasn’t Joel Kim Booster and Jaboukie, you know, all of these gay men rising to the top. I just had to assume there eventually would be and I could be one of them. But Guy and James, I met them early on and they were both great to me.

What would you consider your dream role or gig?

I don’t know why this popped up in my head first, but I would love to be in a Gregg Araki movie. I have always just loved his stuff. I think Smiley Face is probably the most underrated comedy I’ve ever seen. So, few people have seen it, but I think it’s one of the funniest movies ever.

He just did Now Apocalypse and I thought it felt every bit as fresh and visually stimulating as Nowhere, which is sort of the same thing from 20 years ago. The fact that he’s still telling queer stories and pushing our kind of aesthetic to the forefront, I would really love to work with him.

What’s the last movie you saw that really moved you and why?

I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Parasite, and it really stuck with me. That movie was so scary. I don’t even want to say that much about it because I think it’s one of those movies where the less you know, the better.

There’s a couple of points in the movie where you realize what you’ve been watching isn’t at all what you’ve been watching. I was almost completely alone in the theater and I was jumping out of my seat because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I thought it was great and it really stuck with me.

What would the title of your autobiography be?

This is one of those things that I feel I should have thought about, but I never have. So, I will tell you what I would call my comedy album – and that changes over the years – but, right now, it’s Trueversed. I think maybe as one word, Trueversed.  It speaks to me both literally in a gay way but I also think it speaks to my approach to art. I just want to do everything.

What three things could you not live without?

I’m going to say weed and I’ll say, my family, my loved ones. And then the third one would be Nintendo.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given? 

It’s really cliché, but just fake it ‘til you make it. I hear that so much in my life. As a young person, I would hear that and it rhymes, so it seems like it should be true. But then it takes you a long time to realize the truth of it you know, we’re all walking around with impostor syndrome, especially comedians because what we do is so weird and ephemeral. It took me a long time to realize that everyone else is having that same internal dispute and turmoil that you’re having.

The difference in who’s successful and who’s not is who manages that voice the most. So, you’ve just got to train yourself to believe that you could be really good at something. I’ve had situations where I did something really cool and I just refused to believe that it happened because I put in hard work and I’m good at what I do. I’m Catholic. It took me a long time to believe in myself, I guess is what I’m saying.

Check out Nick on “Cool Mom.” New episodes are available on WOW Presents Plus and some classic episodes from seasons one and two are available on YouTube. If you’re planning on heading out to SF Sketchfest in January, Nick will be performing as part of the Live from the Alamo series on Friday, January 10. You can also follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram.

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