Nathan Rich, student by day and comedian by night

Rich discusses Eau Claire comedy scene and Clear Water Comedy

More stories from Elliot Adams

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May 11, 2022
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Photo by McKenna Dirks

Nathan Rich performing comedy for a crowd at a local bar in Eau Claire

Nathan Rich, a fourth-year education student, spends his time away from class as a local comedian with Clear Water Comedy. According to their Facebook page, Clear Water Comedy is an Eau Claire comedy group who “book, produce and perform” all their shows. 

Rich said he was a “weird kid” growing up who always wanted the spotlight. According to Rich, he wanted to get into comedy since high school but due to his age and living in the Chicago area, it made it difficult to get a start.

Rich said he tried going to open mic events as a 17-year-old to “try out some bits.” According to Rich though, he was always turned away at the door, so he didn’t start getting into comedy until college. 

According to Rich, the comedy scene in Eau Claire was a big factor in his decision to attend UW-Eau Claire. Jack Bertelson, a fellow comedian with Clear Water Comedy, said that it’s the attitudes of other comedians that make Eau Claire’s comedy scene great.

“In Eau Claire, the comedians want you to succeed and to improve. I think this is true of the artist community as a whole in Eau Claire,” Bertelson said. “This attitude of ‘we all do better when we all do better’ is not very common in other arts communities in bigger cities.”

According to Bertelson, Clear Water Comedy’s success in Eau Claire is partially due to their ability to book nationally touring comedians who are willing to take a trip to Eau Claire between stopping at Minneapolis or Madison. 

According to Rich, his style of comedy is “joking about myself.” He said that growing up as a suburban kid he had to embrace a new lifestyle as a comedian. 

“I had to embrace the rat king lifestyle a little bit because it’s a grimy thing, especially coming up,” Rich said. “So the comics who can work clean, I respect it a lot, but I don’t know how to do it, especially not in the second most drunk city in the United States.”

(Eau Claire is no longer the second most drunk city in Eau Claire, according to the 2021 list, Eau Claire is now 13 on the list.)

Rich said his comedy is “not filthy, but a little bit blue,” as well as “dumb observations here and there and just a general sense of idiocy.” 

Bertelson said he’s been a long-time friend of Rich and seeing him perform more regularly since the outbreak of COVID-19 has been rewarding. 

“I am shocked at how good Nathan has gotten at comedy. He is much calmer and more centered while performing,” Bertelson said. “I’ve noticed that Nathan looks people in the eye more while performing. This gives the audience the sense that he is talking directly to them, daring them not to laugh.”

According to Rich, after college he plans on moving back to Chicago to “teach all day and stand up all night.” He also plans on using a stage name so that he is able to keep a job teaching in Chicago. 

“You can’t really teach and do stand up in the same city with the same name unless you want to be incredibly clean,” Rich said. “Which I don’t, I’ve already sworn on this interview multiple times for the school newspaper so yeah, I’m going to start using a stage name.”

Rich said there’s always a chance to see him or other members of Clear Water Comedy perform Friday nights at the Brickhouse Pub & Grub

Adams can be reached at [email protected].