Highline alum Dustin Nickerson brings act home

By Winter Dorval - Staff Reporter

Former Highline student Dustin Nickerson takes the stage to have a hoot with his comedy. 

Nickerson will be performing in Redmond on March 9.

Nickerson is now 33 years old, and grew up in Federal Way.

He attended Highline through Running Start as a junior and senior in high school.

He originally majored in journalism, and worked as the sports editor for the Thunderword.

"I didn't want to do anything other than sports and I remember having this conversation with my professor, where he asked me to be the editor in chief and I said no," Nickerson said.

"And he goes 'one day you're going to wake up and realize that you want to devote your life to something other than sports.' That ended up being very prophetic of him long-term."

Nickerson loved stand-up comedy all his life.

"I was a kid in the '90s that would just watch all the Comedy Central Presents that would come on every night and I had them memorized. I would watch the budding stars, who some you'd heard of, some you hadn't, and some I work with now," Nickerson said.

He began attending open mics when his family moved to San Diego.

"In stand-up they talk about catching the bug, and you know whether or not you want to do it right away and I did. I fell in love with it," Nickerson said.

A career as a comedian has its challenges.

"It's not all good and peachy. It is so brutally hard even now, not that I'm some seasoned veteran, but if you really want to do it then you're like 'well I'll just put up with this torture,'" Nickerson said.

Nickerson travels often for his job, and usually visits multiple cities every week.

"At my level the travel is challenging, because you're on the road a lot, and you're isolated so it can be very lonely," he said.

Another challenge can be the performances themselves.

"They're not always good shows.  There's shows where not a lot of people come up, and where the audience isn't paying attention," Nickerson said.

"There's shows where they're just not into it, they don't think you're funny, and don't like you."

Stand-up comedians perform alone.

"It's not like you're in a band where you just hide behind your instruments, and you're up there with other people," Nickerson said.

"When it's not going well on stage and your material's not working, there's no safety net, no eject button, it's just you up there to try and figure it out. Sometimes you do, but often you don't," he said.

Nickerson uses his life, experiences, and social interactions for his material, he said.

"It's very personal in that hopefully when it's going well I'm talking about things that a lot of people relate to and I'm telling stories that people can relate to, but it's definitely very me-centered," Nickerson said.

Highline didn't directly impact Nickerson's choice to pursue comedy but "I remember my professor saying to me something that ended up being true of why I didn't stay with journalism. I said 'Hi, my name is Dustin and I want to be a journalist, because I love to write, and have a lot of opinions.' He stopped me and he said 'Journalism is not about opinions,'" Nickerson said.

This helped him decide that he wanted to pursue a career in comedy, not journalism, Nickerson said.

"Journalism is about unveiling truth and reporting it and comedy is very much about taking everything in. It's our job to know things and have an opinion on it," he said.

Nickerson has videos on Hulu, and he was on a show called Laugh on Fox.

"My biggest achievement was to get to do this professionally, as a full-time job. When you set out as a comedian you have a lot of goals, but really your first goal is to just do it and you come a long way," Nickerson said.

At all of his shows he hopes that people laugh and "that it's cathartic for the audience in some way to laugh at the challenges we all have in life," he said.

He plays in Seattle four to six times every year, he said.

His show in Redmond is on March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

The address for the venue, Overlake Christian Church, is 9900 Willows Rd N.E., Redmond.

Tickets are $19 and $25 for reserved tickets, $35 for premium tickets, and $45 for platinum tickets.

To purchase tickets and for more information visit www.dustinnickerson.com/shows/

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