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Earthquake the comedian is ready to shake things up


At the end of the comedian Earthquake’s critically acclaimed Netflix stand-up special, “Legendary,” the D.C. native led the crowd in a spirited chant at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.

“Southeast! South-Southeast! Southeast! South-Southeast!” the Ballou High School graduate bellowed from the stage as a sea of Washingtonians rose to their feet to shout along. In that moment, after more than 30 years in comedy, the son of D.C. from the Washington Highlands section of Southeast had finally become the man.

On Sept. 1, the Air Force veteran turned comic returns to his hometown for “A Night With the Legendary Earthquake” at MGM National Harbor to deliver observations on the absurdities of life and race relations, with an undeniable D.C. flair.

“I represent D.C. in everything I do,” the comic, born Nathaniel Stroman, told The Post by phone. “There’s no other place I’d rather be from. You just don’t know how much it prepares you for the rest of the world until you see it and say, ‘I came from the right place. I was built for this.’”

Recorded in 2021, the 2022 Netflix special — which features a notable introduction from executive producer and fellow Washingtonian Dave Chappelle — would go on to launch Earthquake from “your favorite comedian’s favorite comedian” into the comedy stratosphere.

A year later, with guest appearances on shows like Max’s “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” and “South Side”; a national comedy tour with Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, D.L. Hughley and DC Young Fly; and a popular SiriusXM talk show on Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud radio network under his belt, Quake was on his way to developing his own TV show. But the writers and actors strikes brought his plans to a halt. After rumbling in the underground comedy scene for three decades, Quake, as he’s known to many, says a longer wait won’t shake him.

“I really feel this time, this opportunity — because I had a few in the past — this time I have certain people around me and a network and a studio that’s going to allow me to be me.”

Leading up to his hometown return, Earthquake spoke about expanding his repertoire, practicing patience and staying true to himself.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: You had the Netflix special. You’re popping up on TV shows. What’s the goal?

A: To have my own TV show and to do more movies. I’m going to write a book, and I want to do just select dates of comedy. I’ve been on the road for 32 years. I’m really trying to do like Dave Chappelle does. He works a lot, but he chooses where he wants to work and when he wants to work and how he wants to work.

Q: What will your TV show be about?

A: I can’t say too much about it, but it will be based in Washington, D.C., about a government agency in D.C., and it will be filmed in D.C.

Q: Is it ironic that there is an additional delay to your next big project after you’ve been trying to break into Hollywood for so long?

A: It’s God’s time. Now that I look back, when I always thought it was a delay or a disappointment, it really turned out it wasn’t my turn. It wasn’t right. For this to happen, to have a hit TV show, you have to have the right people around you, the right people that believe in you and the right time. For the first time, I have all those three.

Q: In your interview on the “Drink Champs” podcast, you said there isn’t a go-to person in comedy who sets rising comics up for success. How did that affect your career?

A: We never had an ambassador to “the gatekeepers,” and that’s what Puffy, Jay-Z and the rest of them are — stars that got on, and they put other people on. People try to change your talent. That’s what Hollywood does: “I love what you do on TV, but this is what the TV show should be about,” instead of allowing you to formulate your own opinion and your talent, and turn you into what they think you should be. Nine out of 10, it’s not what the public wants to see you in. But I’m getting larger and larger, and the gatekeepers are willing to take a risk.

Q: Speaking of gatekeepers, what are your thoughts on the writers and actors strikes?

A: Despite what people might see, 89 percent of the actors that work are making less than $26,000 a year. You must make that much just to ensure health insurance. With the influx of A.I., where they can no longer need you but one time and continue on selling your image, they must come to a financial agreement that people who love this art can at least make a living wage to continue to do the things that they love. I pray that it happens. I’m blessed enough that I can still do what I’m doing now as a working actor. I can still go on the road and tell my jokes and make a great living. If I had to live off the money that I have received from being in all the projects I’ve been in as an actor, I’d be homeless.

Q: Have you been out on the picket lines?

A: Yeah, I went and brought water, food, picketed a couple times. I wasn’t out there too long ’cause it was too hot. Ain’t no sense in me passing out. I was out there in spirit. I was picketing in my house, walking around my living room with my sign. I’m there. I’m with y’all. I just can’t be on that corner.

Q: Were there moments where you wanted to throw in the towel?

A: Only one time, when I lost BET’s “Comic View,” and [Cedric the Entertainer] talked me out of it, like: “What else you gonna do, man? You’re a great comedian.” And that lasted about 24 hours. I got back to it the next day. You can still have a meaningful career even if you don’t get the commercial success. That doesn’t mean that you’re not an artist. I learned when you do comedy, it’s subjective. You might be funny to one person, but you’re not funny to another. After that, I never put my talent up to be judged.

Q: What is the energy from a D.C. crowd like for you?

A: It’s personally the greatest feeling in the world because it’s like, “Can y’all believe this?” Look what I came back home with. I went out in the world and came back with this. And they’re so proud of me. Everybody at home feels great because you’re one of them.

Q: What can we expect to hear in your set at MGM? The Alabama brawl seems like fresh material.

A: Sometimes I, as a comedian, don’t get on too many hot topics because so many comedians talk about it. I don’t like to be in the same group. But yes, I will be talking something about it. That was a great day. I’m about to be out here buying all Black people chairs and giving them away like I’m Oprah on her show. “You get a chair! You get a chair! You get a chair!”

A Night With the Legendary Earthquake

The Theater at MGM National Harbor, 101 MGM National Harbor Ave., Oxon Hill.

POST AUTHOR: Alexis Williams

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