Comedy Speaking Gigs with Nancy Norton

INJ 05 | Comedy Speaking Gigs

Nancy Norton is a Boulder-based comedian and a local Headliner at Comedy Works in Denver. You may have seen Nancy there or on various TV comedy showcases over the years: from doing standup in comedy clubs across the US–to performing on “Evening at the Improv” on A & E, or perhaps in her one-woman show, “The Yellowish-Green Girl” on PBS and featured on Nickmom Night Out on Nickelodeon. Norton has toured nationally and internationally, headlining clubs, colleges, cruises and USO tours. Nancy Norton is one of the founders of MENTALPAUSE! A Comedy Show focused on Laughing-off the Middle-Ages. Norton has also worked as a Registered Nurse.


Listen to Episode #5 here


Comedy Speaking Gigs with Nancy Norton

Our guest is comedian and registered nurse, Nancy Norton. She’s a headliner at Denver’s Comedy Works and frankly, she’s toured all around the world performing comedy. She’s performed comedy on A&E, Nickelodeon and PBS. She founded the Mental Pause Comedy Show, which is focused on laughing about middle-aged, which I tried to do often. Besides performing comedy and saving lives, she’s also a motivational speaker, which bodes well for us. Welcome, Nancy.

Thank you, Pete. First of all, this is probably a bad time to tell you that my nursing license has lapsed. I think I’m still technically a registered nurse because I did pass the state board of nursing, so I am inactive on three states because you’ve got to keep ahead of the law. Once a Marine, always a Marine. I didn’t mean to let it lapse. I just found that out. I was doing something online and then I realized, “I don’t remember reupping my license and I like having it, just something about having my license because I have fallen back on it a few times. I got into nursing for the same reason a lot of people got into it to save lives.

This is the perfect segue into the first question, which is if you weren’t doing comedy, if you weren’t nursing, not nursing that way, but being a nurse and if you weren’t a motivational speaker, what would you be doing?

In my fantasy, I am in a little stone cottage near a stream with a stick and I’m poking a fire. Every now and then I go out and I feed a squirrel. I have a bucket of nuts near my door and I feed a squirrel and go back and poke the fire, sip tea. That feels great to me. I love that life. You have these sweet little squirrels. They keep coming back and you never have to grieve the loss of a pet because new squirrels replace the old squirrels. You never know.

You could do this on the side?

Maybe. I have a teenage boy. I got to make a mortgage payment and food. I have to feed him three times a day. He eats like a squirrel. Maybe the squirrel fantasy is coming from him. It’s like, “Eat another nut.” I tried to get him to eat protein. We’re vegetarian so I push the nuts.

You have a teenage boy who’s a vegetarian. Where does he get protein?

From nuts and soybeans. All that they say is soybeans will make him more feminine or something. I don’t know if it’s true. He’s very masculine. He has a very nice mustache for a thirteen-year-old. It’s better than mine.

I remember being around that age and being excited to not have to shave. I remember wanting to shave but not needing to shave and feeling like that was a milestone that at some point I would have to do that.

We bought him a shaving kit. I have a boyfriend now because I’m practicing saying boyfriend because I was with the ladies for twenty years.

[Tweet “It’s terrible sitting around the table and the people stare at you and then you have no confidence in a bit.”]

Usually women go the other direction.

I’ve swung but the pendulum has swung back a couple times. I was married for eleven years. He was a very nice man, but he would not wear the Jodie Foster mask. George, nice guy. Then I was with a not so nice lady for eleven years.

That’s like a complete reversal. It’s usually you’re with a not so nice guy and then you give up the guys for the nice ladies.

I didn’t find the nice ladies and they’re out there.

I know this because I’m fortunate to have go out with them.

There are some nice ones out there. I’m just over it. I’m happy to have a boyfriend and he is going to help my son. We have the kit. We haven’t done the little shaving lesson.

That’s very nice of you because I have a single mom. I did not consult with her by the first time I tried to shave and it didn’t go well. She looked at me and she said, “What have you done?” I have a plastic BIC shaver and Barbasol, which are bad.

Those BIC shavers are the worst. I did the same thing with shaving my legs and I remember walking downstairs in sixth grade or something. I’d shave my legs and I had tiny pieces of tissue about 25 of them on my shins and knees as if that was normal and I went downstairs. I remember going downstairs and my mother was loading the dishwasher or something and I’d never heard her laugh. She laughed more at me than with me.

At least she was laughing, my mom was upset. She was concerned.

Did you take off a chunk?

No. I just had little tiny gash. I think that’s all you can do is put little pieces of tissue.

We bought my son a little styptic thing.

The technology’s way better these days. Five blades and I use this shaving cream that I love, Kiss My Face. I think that’s the best. I want to ask you what’s a typical day in your life? You’re busy clearly because you have no time for the squirrels and poking the fire.

I do make time for squirrels. I have a dog and so it’s a battle.

What are the bits? Let’s do a weekday to start.

I’ll do a little product placement for you, Echo Dot. I have Alexa wake me up with an alarm at 7:15. Now, I should get up at 6:45, but I love adrenaline so I like to wake up late and then start the day with a surge of, “I am so late.”Then I hit the floor running, brush my teeth as fast as I can, trip over my dog and I run down the hallway. I did a Feldenkrais workshop. It’s a body movement thing where I’m supposed to walk down the hallway on all fours, like a dog, but I’m going to work on that. Then I get my son a bad breakfast, some cinnamon toast, apples and almonds, some tea. I’ve got him hooked on Earl Grey tea.

This kid must feel great and bolder.

He doesn’t have that many vegetarian friends. In elementary school, they chase him around the cafeteria with slices of turkey.

This is the new bullying.

The vegetarian bullying. They would chase him around with turkey slices. I’ve got him his toast, apples, almonds and some Earl Grey with little soy milk and some turbinado sugar. Then I rush him to school late as always. He’s always one minute late because that’s how I roll and so I’ve instilled the adrenaline addiction in him. I’m like, “Go, deploy,” is the word I say. We pull up to the hug and go spot, it’s like, “Deploy.” He runs out the door and into the school and I take my dog to the dog park.

INJ 05 | Comedy Speaking Gigs
Comedy Speaking Gigs: I shut down my need to nap because when you have a toddler or whatever, you cannot even afford. You can’t think that way.

Do you interact with people at the dog park?

I try. I have a few regulars.

Do you work on bits ever at the dog park? Do you like try out some jokes with folks?

I haven’t tried out my jokes at the dog. I’m more about trying out the dog training like, “How do you get yours to stay? Mine’s not doing that,” but that’s a good idea. I don’t like to try out bits except on large numbers of people like an audience because it can be misleading. Statistics of small numbers are not true so I like to try it with enough statistics but I make things up. It can deflate your confidence if you try it on. What’s worse is when you first start it out and you’re like, “Do you think this is funny guys?” It’s terrible. Sitting around the table and the people stare at you and then you have no confidence in the bit.

The dog park is not an ideal circumstance. It’s a little too bright and early in the day and there’s not any alcohol.

Then I go home and pretend to work. I’m trying to clock in from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. I try to do four hour a day.

Do you work in your living room? Do you have an office?

I have an office. It is a closet that I have put a reclaimed desk in there that is in my meditation room. To my back is meditation time and to my forward is work time.

What are you working on from 10 to 2?

I am going through and trying to reconnect with warm calls. I’m calling people who I’ve done speaking gigs with and who might know somebody who might know somebody who might need a humorous speaker for the thing because I’m working on doing these gigs that frankly pay better than stand-up comedy. I love, love doing stand-up comedy and I like doing speaking, but I love the money from speaking.

Logic says that equals, “I love money.”

I’m hoping to break even and that is my big goal. I don’t think I love money enough. I’m okay with big flush. I’ve always had enough my whole life. There’s something in my psyche that says it’s okay to have enough money. I don’t want to be poor, but I don’t want to be rich either, but I’m working on having a little extra for getting older. Maybe a several extra, I haven’t done that yet.

Do you watch this famous scene from Glengarry Glen Ross to get pumped up about coffee is for closers? Have you ever seen this young, beautiful Alec Baldwin being a total jerk to these poor sales people who are doing cold calls and Glengarry Glen Ross?

No. I don’t know the reference I should. I feel like I’ve seen it peripherally somehow circulating on Facebook or something like that.

It’s high testosterone.

My approach is, “You don’t need me, do you? But if you do…” I’m not great at sales, but I’m working on it.

You’re making these calls. Is that the kind of hard work you’ve got to get pumped up for it?

Yeah. I get pumped up. I get a vision of sharing the light of laughter.

I haven’t done many of these but this idea of, you can call it a lot of things like your inner critic, self-doubt, anxiety, it comes up a lot. It comes up a lot in the world in general. This is a first world problem, but modern day problem. Within comedy, it’s amplified. Insecurities is another word. All these words pop up here and there. The fact that you have to have this vision and get a little pumped up to make these calls for something that is super valuable and that people love.

It’s made it a lot easier to think I am bringing something of value. I’ve gotten clear on the value of humor in the last couple years, which is what I preach about in my speaking gigs. It does help to have that clarity, but the underlying reason we got into comedy in the first place. Let’s not forget, most of us come from some improper parenting. That is my common denominator and I don’t want to speak for everybody. I’m saying in my case, born the fourth of three children and I need something. There’s a neediness that’s in me from infancy that makes it feel like, “Maybe you don’t deserve to have your needs met.” It’s hard not to identify like, “It’s about me, isn’t it?” When you get older you realize, it was because there were three other kids ahead of you and these other variables that happen in your parents’ lives. It wasn’t about you, but you made it about you so your psyche is fixed in that insecure like, “I’m not going to get my needs met, am I?”

We are good about making things about us. It’s amazing how good we are at that.

We get stuck in that egocentric phase.

As a child, it’s hard to not.

You don’t have any reference point. That is a phase of development, the egocentricity that you do think everything you are the center.

My mom would always remind us that there are starving kids in China. That was her thing but then with dad, “Eat this lima beans.” There’s famine in places of the world so you should eat this lima beans.

None of us ever question like, “Did that help them at all in China?”

Then at 2:00?

Let’s pretend like I worked from 10 to 2 and I was successful. I landed a gig, that’s great.

[Tweet “Comedy is a game where there are winners and losers. There’s a butt of a joke and there’s a victim, there’s a target.”]

If you land a gig, do you stop working?

No. I’m excited but I keep going like, “That’s great.” Do I keep working in general? You have to use Facebook a little bit in our business and it is tricky. You catch yourself toggling and then getting stuck down on a rabbit hole.

They have this worked out. They’re very good.

I’m starting to recognize the Facebook-induced anxiety. At 2:00, I wish I could take a nap. I used to be a good napper. I lost that when I had a kid. Somehow I shut down my need to nap because when you have a toddler or whatever, you cannot even afford. You can’t think that way.

Can you go to jail for napping?

Yeah, I think you can. It depends on what they got into. All of a sudden, I flashed on Jeannette who wrote The Glass Castle. Did you ever read that memoir?


I flashed on her. She was cooking hotdogs at age three in her nightgown and caught fire. She did get in real trouble. You can’t let your kids cook hotdogs. No nap. We’re at 2:00, I’ll probably go for a little run outside, take my dog for a walk, do a walk-run thing. Then hopefully, I might call my boyfriend, see what he’s up to. We might have a play date or something. Then my son’s going to be coming home from school at 4:00. My parenting now is thirteen. It’s great. You can now make your own mac and cheese.

What are his chores?

He vacuums the living room.

How does he feel about chores?

He accepts it. It’s been there for awhile. He’s clear like the line is drawn, “I don’t vacuum pass this line, the dining room.” “That’s your area.” I’m like once in awhile, “Can you do the dining room?” “No. That’s your area.” We have very clear lines.

He sounds like a crack negotiator.

He always has been, very detailed. If you told him not to run in the restaurant, then he will skip and say, “I’m not running.”

You alluded to this about becoming a comedian. Was there a little bit of a coping response to challenges of being funny? Were you a class clown and what age?

I was very, very early, probably kindergarten.

It’s a little unusual for a girl. Probably less some now.

It’s interesting because I didn’t have and I still always have the right name for the whole gender continuum. I consider myself genderful, it’s my new thing. It’s going to catch on. It started here. I am genderful. I was a tomboy. Maybe because I was boyish that that was okay for me to lead in a verbal.

How did your teachers react to it?

Some of them loved it and some of them hated me. It depends. I was in the hall a lot. In first grade, I remember I got sent to the hallway quite a bit. I had one teacher who loved me, loved my sense of humor. She would sometimes see me to the hallway and she would pass me funny notes under the door like, “I’m going to blackmail you on your wedding day.” She was fun. I remember her. This was a history teacher. This was later in middle school. Looking back on it I thought, “I should’ve gotten more into the performing arts, which I didn’t until high school.” She would read things out of the history book and have me pantomime building the pyramids or something and funny, silly if you can be funny building the pyramid, if you do a little dance with it. She used my skills which I appreciated.

I’ve done this a couple times now where I reached back and thanked the teacher or professor especially because things turned out well. If things don’t turn out well for people, they don’t reach back and be like, “I appreciated the support,” but I’ve done it a few times and it feels good.

I never did thank her.

I sent my book to a professor in college. He taught the hardest class ever taught, hardest graduate I took in college. He was a health psychologist. I sent him the book and said, “You will remember me when I was a student in your class shortly after you moved to Rutgers. It was the hardest class I ever had, but I also learned so much in that class, and I want to say thanks.” He sent me this lovely note back. It was old school. He sent me a letter back. We have a typical day in your life. I want to ask you about what kind of tools do you use as you’re working on your craft. Are you writing in your notebook? Are you writing in your phone? Are you using a word processing program? Are you like JAY-Z who makes it all up in his head? He doesn’t have to write anything down.

My boyfriend’s been trying to help me like, “I want to get you Scrivener.” He’s got me on Evernote. He will say, “Write that down.” I do need to write things down. My memory is not as good as it once was and there was a time I wrote everything down on little napkins. When I first started, it was any little piece of paper. I’d make notes and then I was very diligent about trying to find the bit in it and working it out and I’ve gotten to where I’ve gotten lazy. I get on stage. I do want to write more because I am still doing jokes from the ’90s. I’m doing 25-year-old jokes that I still can sell as fresh and new.

INJ 05 | Comedy Speaking Gigs
Comedy Speaking Gigs: To the universe, let this be for the highest good. I hope these people leave feeling better than when they walked in here.

Tell me one of your 25-year-old jokes.

I’m originally from the Ozarks. Everybody say, “Which trailer park?” I sometimes will swear at them and say, “Not everybody in the Ozarks lives in a trailer park.” Pause and there’s a huge waiting list. I give them a bunch of crap for making these terrible assumptions about people in the Ozarks and then I reverse it.

I think your stuff is accessible. You can do fly-over states and you can do young and old. We did an event a couple years ago. I bet you the mean age in that room was 59, 60.

They were a little older and your stuff killed. There’s a room here in town at the Beirgarten that’s like college kids in a bar. I’m always surprised that they go from my old lady stuff. Once in awhile, I hunker down like festus and say, “Kids back in my day.” I like to think that it is accessible and universal, although some of the stuff is dated. This is a joke I’ve caught myself doing lately. Some of what I say makes me funny is born cross-eyed. When they want to get a laugh, they’ll cross their eyes. That’s somehow hilarious in pictures and, “Let’s cross our eyes and I can only cross one. Were you born cross-eyed?”

My sister told me I would introduce myself like this, “Hi, my name is Nancy. I’m cross-eyed,” to beat him to the punch, but then I think that made me funny. Then I had the surgery later on that made my eye turned out, which I don’t know which is worse. I did this joke about me twice as many people as the rest of you. I have no depth perception. I just park by sound. I’m there and get out. I’m only licensed to drive in Kansas. I’m not saying it’s flat and boring, but I drove all the way across the state with my club on. There’s no clubs anymore. There’s things like that and they’re like, “Nancy, maybe you can let that one go.” I did have eye surgery couple of years ago to try to pull my eye back in. I dropped all the eye jokes, but now my brain is pushing my eye back out.

Do you think that those jokes are harder to do these days in part because people are more sensitive?

No. As long as I’m not going down with it like, “I feel so bad about myself.” I’m like, “No.” If you’re being playful, I haven’t found that to be a problem.

Yeah, so the show you’re talking about is on Sunday nights. It’s the Biergarten in Boulder. Boulder Comedy Show is a great show. It’s become super popular. They added a second show and they get a lot of the performers on Sunday from Comedy Works who stay on another day. I could see why your stuff works well with that crowd in part because they’re desperate for something different. The comedians who come through there, there’s a lot of weed jokes and there’s a lot of hipster comedy. It’s nice to get something different and funny in that venue.

I’m always delighted. I used to work clean all the time and now. There was a time I was single and it was my sexual outlet. Comedy was my sexual outlet so I do a lot of sex jokes.

Freud would be so happy right now if he was alive. That was his entire theory of comedy. It was an aggressive and sexual tension.

Humor is aggressive also. Is that the point?

There are these different theories of humor. One of them is superiority theory. Comedy is a game where there are winners and losers. There’s a butt of a joke and there’s a victim, there’s a target. We laugh at the follies of others. That’s an aggressive tendency in Freud’s eyes.

When you’re all for yourself, it’s neat because you get to be the victim and the perpetrator, which I tend to be. When I’m making jokes about being cross-eyed, I’m also empowering myself by saying I meet twice as many people as the rest of you like, “Here’s the benefit of having a lazy eye.”

That’s the benign violation to my vernacular. You’re pointing out this bad thing and saying how it’s good. That’s essentially the definition of humor in my eyes. Let’s get back to these critiques; self doubts, anxieties, insecurity.

One of my friends says comedians are the most insecure, arrogant people which I makes sense, the insecure/arrogant.

The persona on stage versus the one behind the show.

I think you can transcend all of that anyway in moments. I think my personages have shifted. I still have very insecure moments that get triggered and go back to that infancy of being totally dependent on everybody.

[Tweet “I still have very insecure moments that get triggered and go back to that infancy of being totally dependent on everybody.”]

Mine is at 4:30 AM. I wake up and my mind is working and nothing else is and I’m not in a good place to cope with it.

That’s the definition of anxiety, being somewhere else. You can’t do anything effective or you could. You could get up and write.

I find that I have to reset, had to get up, move around, lay back down, breaks the pattern.

I’ve got into a bad podcast addiction. 3:00 or 4:00 AM, sometimes I have to put on another voice. I do sometimes block out my voice with the other voices. As far as comedy goes, maybe because I’m in my 50s, I do want to be of service. I know it’s weird. I’ve proven myself in a lot of ways and I feel like I’ve met that, I have validated that I’m funny. I’ve done the PBS. That was more of a tear-jerker. I’ve proven that I’m sad. I’ve proven that I’m poignant. It’s hard when people are clapping not to take it personally, but it’s about celebrating the experience.

I started to look at temporary art that we build together and I know it feels embarrassing when I say it out loud because it feels very cheesy to say it. I do talk about it on stage and like, “This is like an ice sculpture that we built together.” Even though we might use some of the same moves and make some of this, we might make the same lion, but it’s going to look slightly different. Every audience is going to whittle away and we interact. My bits, and I have a lot of nuances and I also do a little improv in the middle of that keeps things lively. It’s temporary art that we celebrate and then that applause is not about me but it’s about us. Most of the time it goes great.

I don’t think that is cheesy at all. It’s rather elevated. You are creating art. Good comedians are great artists. Comedians don’t have to be artists in the same way that musicians don’t have to be artists. You can play a cover and you’re not an artist, you’re just a musician. If you write a song, now you’re an artist.

Or arrange a cover in a unique way, just shout-out to the musicians who are doing covers but they’re doing them with their own voice.

Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m being too hard on this. You paint by numbers, that’s not truly art. When I talk to comedians, they are like musicians in the sense that it’s such a great feeling when their laughs are washing over you.

I think of it as sharing a laugh.

You’ve clearly spent time in Boulder meditating. That’s a meditative approach to comedy. I’ve done a little bit of meditation over the years that I’m very partial to a loving kindness meditation because I grew up in New Jersey. When you grow up in New Jersey, you’re not taught to be either loving or kind, so it’s been very good for me. For people who are not familiar with loving kindness meditation, the idea is that you think compassionate thoughts about yourself, then you move on. Once you’re able to do that, that’s already hard to do. It’s already hard to think compassionately about yourself. Then you think about compassionate thoughts about other people you care about. It can be easier, especially if you’ve accomplished the first one. Then the next one, compassionate thoughts about people you don’t like.

Or don’t like you; people who have hurt you, wounded you, torn you apart.

If you can do that, then you’re supposed to think compassionate thoughts about all things.

That’s when you become a vegetarian.

Clearly, I have not made it to the third level yet. What you’re describing, I think a little bit is that compassionate view. We are all in this together, this loving kind view of comedy. This is not about me and it’s not about you, I’m sure there’s some fun analogy that we could come up with, but without an audience, a comedian’s not comedian.

Without the comedian, the audience is not an audience. They need their identity as the audience as well. It’s an agreement. When I’m behind the curtain and I say the last thing and sometimes I forget and I can tell a difference in my performance art pieces, but if I say, “Let this be for the highest good,” even if I’m to bomb for this to be for the highest good, I’m okay with that. If somebody needs to watch me bomb so they can feel better about their lives or maybe they don’t kill themselves tonight, that’s fine with me like, “Look at me. I’m up here in front of people and I ate it,” which is the irony of life is you eat very often when you don’t care about eating it. With Jack, when I started out I ate at least 50% of the time driving home going, “Why God do I have to do this? I hate this.” I used to be a little more steeled for it, I’m ready and prepared. Now, when I bomb I’m disoriented like, “I forgot how to deal with this.”

You say this like as a mantra to yourself before you go on stage? “This is for the highest good.”

Yeah. “To the universe, let this be for the highest good. I hope these people leave feeling better than when they walked in here.” This is where I’m crossing over into the preachy, cheesy comedian. I can take it.

The behavioral scientist from New Jersey when he moved to Boulder was little intolerant of some of the hippy-dippy stuff here. I have to tell you that I come around on a lot of things in part because the research has backed it up. For years people have said, “Meditation changed my life.” I was like crystals, magnets, pyramids, whatever these things are. Serious scientists had been doing work on this stuff and time and time again find robust benefits of meditation and retraining your mind to think in different ways. I’ve come a long way and started practicing meditation not because I was convinced by folks in town, but because I’ve read papers that tell these kinds of effects. I’m a believer that these things help.

I’m not an intellectual or a scholar so it’s easier for me because my brain will shut down pretty easy. I can shut it down in a couple of blinks so I don’t have that scholarly mind. That is a harder thing. Eckhart Tolle, have you read any of his stuff?


INJ 05 | Comedy Speaking Gigs
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

I think you would appreciate it. He wrote The Power of NowIf you’re dealing with stuff at 4:30 AM, I read the CliffsNotes to The Power of Now immediately. There’s a book called Practicing the Power of Now and it’s a very short book but it has two-minute meditation. I have ADD and I sit and meditate for 30 minutes. I started doing glimpses of meditation, 30-second meditations of being here now and now I get high on it. I talked about in Boulder I get high on my plants, I don’t smoke them, I just look at right through them and I feel high. When I sit in my meditation room that faces east in the morning and this light comes through the leaves of these plants and I can study the veins of leaves. For scholars, I think it’s a tougher deal. When you tell me you came to it from science and research and all that, is your meditation more of an intellectual process or are you able to drop down or drop behind your thoughts?

For me, that stuff is hard. I’m in my head a lot. That the point is you acknowledge it and allow to move on. It’s a blessing and a curse. I live a more effective, efficient, I make fewer mistakes in life and so on, but sometimes it gets in the way. I’ve worked hard to enjoy the aesthetic part of life more where it is more feeling and perceiving rather than thinking and judging. It sounds like in terms of looking for inspiration, you’re looking for inspiration in the shared experience.

I’m looking for that. The jokes come organically. I can do it though. I’m happy that if you gave me an assignment and you said find three funny things about this bamboo plant, I might be able to it. Mostly, it comes organically and then I try to write it down and then share it with people like something hit me funny and the fact that we’re holding this bamboo plant hostage in Boulder and we should return it to Thailand.

Do you engage in your creative pursuits? Do you give yourself assignments like that? Like you say, “I’m going to do X.”

I wanted to have more of a discipline practice. I want to write more like that. I might know. I keep saying I’m going to start doing that any minute.

I suspect you could. You already came up with the premise for a very good joke about the hostage. What are you reading? What are you watching? What are you listening to, you mentioned podcasts, that really stands out?

Eckhart Tolle stuff. I’m listening to a lot. In fact, in the middle of the night I will put on some Eckhart Tolle’s lectures. I don’t want to underestimate the subconscious mind when you’re sleeping and stuff goes through the layers without any filters. I try to put on something that I feel confident that it’s going to be an uplifting message. It used to be NPR until the Trump administration, now you can’t. You can’t listen to NPR anymore. Terry Gross’ voice used to be soothing for me. Now with the interviews, I think she’s doing a lot of jazz. I listen to a lot Eckhart, that stands out the most with other stuff.

Did you read anything or hear anything that blow your mind, like your book or something? The reason I’m pushing on this and I do this with all the guests, there’s a lot of good material out there. There are lots of good podcasts and lots of good television and lots of good books. It’s fine if there’s nothing. If you were just like, “That had an effect. I can’t get that out of my head.” 

I dabble in stuff right now. I feel like my concentration is low, so I’m a chronic dabbler in different things.

You’re consuming a lot?

Not a whole lot, but I what I do is very shallow. I record Colbert, he was my therapy at the end of the day because I think he’s one of the greatest performers around and what he does with satire and brilliant. It’s therapeutic for me to cope with the situation in the world a little bit. I still record his monologues and I’ll watch these monologues and I am drawing a blank completely. I know there’s other stuff that should be there, but I would say Eckhart Tolle have all the things. It’s to be in the present moment. I do have a signature on my email and it was like, “May you be in the present moment for now.”

This meditation thing, you have very good company. When you start to look around, there are plenty of very famous comedians and humorous and so on who practice meditation; Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern, Ellen, all meditate and across successful people whether it’d be business, athletics, etc. You can find a commonality in terms of meditation.

There has been a shift, I think through your own personal studies.

Some of these folks started doing it way back when. I figure when successful people are doing something, it doesn’t guarantee success, but it is suggested or there’s some value there. Nancy, what is the secret to success that everybody knows but they can’t do?

Follow through. I started reading this book Laugh and Grow Rich. It’s an old book from the depression days that are helping people make a bunch of money. That book I was listening to because my humor, I wanted to parody it. Do a thing called Laugh and Grow Happier or Laugh and Grow Rich with Happiness. The irony when you parody something and you end up gleaning information, but that is really it. Stay focused, follow through, keep going. You don’t stop no matter how many failures. You got to be accepting thousands and thousands and thousands of failures but keep going.

[Tweet “May you be in the present moment for now.”]

You’re right about that idea that people struggle with this idea of self-control and motivation. It’s a tough thing for people to do. 

Especially if you have kids that you have to provide for. Luckily, I was a comedian before I had a child. If I hadn’t met with some success before, I might not but having the nursing license, maybe that’s why I let it lapse. Part of me wants to not have the safety net because if you have the safety net, it’s been proven that you fall back on the safety net rather than follow through with plan A when you need money. Don’t be a coward and fall for the food trick.

I’ve been kicking around this ‘no plan B’ idea. I don’t want to have made it, but I’m not desperate anymore. I’m still in the office I moved into on day one here mostly because I decorated it and then no one’s taking. I don’t want to move again. I don’t want to pack up so I don’t have a fancy view or anything. I’m still motivated. I’m still hungry. This idea of not having a plan B, I hear this sometimes. You had a plan B as a registered nurse, but you’re looking to set it aside.

I haven’t worked as a nurse in two years and I have set it aside to a degree, but yet there’s something in me that’s a little scared. I’m scared to let that nursing license lapse.

The idea is to help push through the follow through. Nancy, this is a lot of fun. I knew it would be.

Thank you, Pete. I’ve enjoyed it and let’s not do it again too often.

Resources mentioned:

About Nancy Norton

INJ 05 | Comedy Speaking GigsNancy Norton is a Boulder-based comedian and a local Headliner at Comedy Works in Denver. You may have seen Nancy there or on various TV comedy showcases over the years: from doing standup in comedy clubs across the US–to performing on “Evening at the Improv” on A & E, or perhaps in her one-woman show, “The Yellowish-Green Girl” on PBS and featured on Nickmom Night Out on Nickelodeon. Norton has toured nationally and internationally, headlining clubs, colleges, cruises and USO tours. Nancy Norton is one of the founders of MENTALPAUSE! A Comedy Show focused on Laughing-off the Middle-Ages. Norton has also worked as a Registered Nurse.


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