If you haven’t heard his name yet, you will. And for those who have, get used to it.
I left my meeting with Comedian Nate Williams feeling like he had all the makings to become a comedic legend. He was personable, engaging, humble, and not to mention hilarious. He greeted me with a hug, as if we were old friends. We sat and talked inside the bakery way beyond our allotted time for the interview, mostly due to the fact that he was just so relatable that the conversation seemed to flow, almost endlessly.
Our conversation started not at the beginning, and definitely not the end, but in the middle. He was telling me about his upcoming plans for Los Angeles, where he was booked for yet another performance. In just a year, Nate Williams has made history, becoming the first local comedian to ever sell out The Looney Bin comedy club in Little Rock, Arkansas. In that same timespan, Nate has also sold and personally delivered 1800 tickets, performed in over 30 cities nationwide, sold out 5 shows, performed on the Bobby Jones Gospel show for more than 40 million at home viewers and has several major deals in the works with some of Hollywood’s top names.
Nate Williams may have roots in a small town called England, Arkansas, but he has planted seeds across the country from New York to L.A., to everywhere in between. Likewise, Nate has worked with and rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in the industry such as J. Anthony Brown, Tom Joyner, Tommy Davidson and DeRay Davis, to name a few. With business meetings at Russell Simmons’ company, All Def Digital (ADD), it’s only a matter of time before Nate Williams explodes onto the scene in a major way.
Not only is Nate Williams traveling to Hollywood, he’s also bringing Hollywood home, to the A-state. July 7th is set to be Nate’s first ever birthday bash and he’s rolling out all the stops. He alluded that he has a "huge" announcement that will be revealed that evening and encouraged guests to come "[t. v.] camera-ready". The event will be held at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock, with special guests Cocoa Brown from the Tyler Perry series, Why Did I Get Married and London Brown from the HBO hit series, Ballers. Tickets are available here by contacting Nate through his Facebook page or direct message. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $40 for VIP. Doors open at 6:30 p.m for the mix and mingle, and the show starts at 7:30.
Dubbed a “kingdom comedian,” I asked Nate why it was important for him to take this route, versus the traditional path of other successful comedians such as Kevin Hart and Katt Williams, who often use explicit language to drive their punchlines home. “Well, I did at first (use explicit language). Don’t get it twisted. In the beginning,” he admits, “but I wasn’t getting the response that I wanted”. He insisted that it was his childhood upbringing in the church and his relationship with Christ which ultimately led him to clean up his act. He declared that he simply asked God “What’s missing?” for which God simply replied, “Do it for Me.” It was that moment, Nate declared as the turning point in his career. He mentioned that after he transitioned to “kingdom comedy”, more doors opened up. He recalled a show in November 2015 when he performed at The Looney Bin, where more than 10 people gave their lives to Christ at the end of his show. After such rave reviews and by popular demand, Williams presented an encore performance in front of another sold-out crowd at the same venue and then followed up, the next month, with a sell-out crowd of more than 600 members in his hometown of England, Arkansas. And while Nate is commonly referred to as a “Kingdom Comedian,” he emphasized that he doesn’t want to be known simply as a “Christian” comedian, but just a comedian. While he insisted that there is nothing wrong with this genre, he claimed that he doesn’t want to be put into a box. He expressed that he wants to be a family-friendly comedian who entertains people of all ages.
He noted that growing up, he admired comedians like Sinbad, who were able to perform one-hour sets with no cursing. He says that this is an impressive feat in the world of comedy, where most comedians’ routines are tailored with foul-language and expletives. Another reason for cleaning up his act is his daughter, 9-year old, Morgan who is also an aspiring actress, comedian and singer. He revealed to me that she often asks him for advice and he feels honored to be in a position to give it to her. It’s obvious from just talking to him that his daughter is the apple of his eye and a driving force behind his work ethic.
Greater than that force, however, is another force, the Divine. Nate admitted to me that he’s always been solid in his faith. “I’ve always had a deeper connection with God, even as a kid. While other kids were watching Scooby Doo, I watched the 700 Club,” he continued. So when he grew up and began pursuing his comedy career, it was only natural for him to consult God on the direction of his path.
Nate revealed that for him, comedy was his escape, writing in a Facebook post, “From my pain, I found humor”. But that’s more than just a quote for Williams. It’s his reality. Nate disclosed a difficult period during elementary school when he suffered from a severe case of dyslexia. Dyslexia, also known as a reading disorder, is characterized by trouble with reading despite normal intelligence. The comedian asserted that he was too embarrassed to ask for help so instead, he went home with a book, prayed to God and learned to read on his own. He admitted, however, that before it got to that point, he used comedy as a diversion from his struggles to deflect from the fact that he didn't excel in this area. In similar fashion of learning to read, Nate implemented this same drive into his college education and professional comedy career with his Lord and Savior, leading the way.
“Grinding and doing it from the heart” with the right intentions is what Nate also credits his success to. Nate says that he realized his gift from God. He stated that once God revealed that comedy was his gift, He also made it impossible for him to do anything but pursue it. Nate revealed that there was a time when he seemed to get fired from every job that he worked and he wondered why it was happening. He mentioned that he now realizes that he wasn’t focused, adding that he often “walked around with a tablet in his hand, writing jokes.” He added that he couldn’t properly help customers with merchandise because his mind was preoccupied with being on stage. Sometimes God pushes us into uncomfortable situations to see how we’ll respond, to see if we’ll follow our passion or sit on our talents. It’s times like this when God is allowing you an opportunity to measure your faith.
“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God” –Leo Buscaglia
I wanted to know why laughter is so important to Nate. His response was, “Laughter stops people from doing the worst things.” I asked him if he finds laughter in everything, in the midst of tragedy and adversity, citing acts like bullying or the recent mass shooting in Orlando, for which he replied, “I’m not sure if you can find humor in things like that, but from what I heard about the guy in Orlando was that he first went to the club and someone dissed him, which caused him to return and do what he did. What I thought about was, what if he had a friend or someone there with him who could have made light of the situation and made him laugh, then it just may have turned out differently.”
Nate’s tagline is “Healing the world, one joke at a time.” I’m curious if he ever imagined the extent that this phrase would ring true for him. His passion for comedy is undeniable, but his purpose is far greater. He recalled a show in Monroe, Louisiana where he performed and gave his personal testimony. Nate says that he received a call from the pastor the next day. The pastor revealed that a young lady who attended his show the night before had come and rededicated her life to Christ. He went on to share with Nate that she had also given him a suicide note that she had written before the show. He concluded that the woman stated that “because of Nate Williams, I decided not to do it”.
Nate has credited comedy for saving his life. It turns out, that his comedy is saving others, as well.