Nikole Denise & Danna Kiel

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Nikole’s responses to Danna’s questions:

Do you feel nervous about new material even after you’ve mic’d it?

Yes.... I’m always nervous right before and up to the first minute I’m on stage. Then I can get in a flow if the energy is good. Doing material at an open mic is way different from a show. Open mics are full of other comics who really aren’t listening. Lol..So you may not even get the real response. You really have no idea how your material is gonna work until you do it for a real audience.   

What is your biggest Comedy Dream ?

My biggest comedy dream is whatever God’s purpose is for me. I’m open to taking this as far and as high as He wants me to go. I’m here for purpose, on purpose. 

What’s your answer if one of your daughters wanted to be a comedian?

Oh man... I can see my youngest wanting to do comedy. She’s silly like me. Even at 5 she knows a joke and makes them constantly. I’d support it. I mean I will also push other financial endeavors for stability and long term wealth. But I’m taking her to all the comedy clubs. 

Do you resist comparing yourself to others?

Always.. I choose not to ever compare myself to anyone. I feel like that’s subconsciously telling myself/my spirit which is perfectly imperfect that’s it’s not good enough. I was put here to be this person. Comparing any aspect of myself to another person is a slap in Gods face. 

Do you have an inner critic? If so what do you say to silence her?

Yes I have a very loud inner critic and that heffa is always running her mouth.. lol. I can point out all the wrong things in me way before and faster than anyone else. It’s hard to shut that [email protected]!?h up, but meditation helps me acknowledge it, and use it to evolve for the better. 

What is your proudest performance to date and why?

My proudest moment to date is a two part actually. My first proud moment is my first time getting on stage.  I had to face so many of my fears and bad self talk to do it. And winning first place in a comedy competition at Flappers. I framed that check!!!

Danna’s responses to Nikole questions:

What made you get into comedy?

I finally realized I was a comedian, actress and a thinker all along. It was time to live into who I AM and what I’ve always been.  Comedy is the only performance genre I know of that I have the freedom to be my smartest self and that I don’t have to dim that light ever.  I get to be whole as a comedian..

Who's your top three comedians?

Trevor Noah, Ali Siddiq and Sommore. It tends to be a rotation. It’s a tough question. Trevor Noah never falls out of the rotation. Ali Siddiq inspired the current journey on this comedy freeway.  Sommore is just so poised, potent and clear. I want to be all of those things. I love Chris Rock, Ellen Degeneres and Yvonne Orji. I love Tiffany Haddish’s freedom. My greatest inspiration honestly is Carol Burnett.  I don’t know if folks consider her a stand up comedian though. She was my first connection in childhood to the pieces of this puzzle called comedy.  When I saw her and watched her show, I wanted to do what she did…Be an instrument of comedy and MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH!

How much do you think comedy and intellect go hand in hand?

They are twins. As a comedian I don’t have one without the other. Whether I am being topical or observational, the capacity to see and understand what I am looking at is where the comedy goods really are. I am talking sustainable comedy goods not snacks 😂🍏, but whole meals.

Do you resist comparing yourself to others?

In terms of other comedians, I don’t resist it.  I just don’t compare myself in the ways one might think.  I wish I could resist it though. I compare myself based on time.  I wish I had started sooner. I am proud, blessed and don’t take for granted that I can develop quality material, but it often feels like I came out of the starting gate extremely late.  I look at my age and compare myself to those my same age, because of what they’ve done with the time. I obsess about what I was doing in those timeframes. I ruminate on chances to pivot sooner and that I didn’t.

I pull out of that space though by being present and grateful for the comedy miracles that are happening EVERYDAY. I tell people, God is opening doors like gangbusters.

What are your hobbies?

Baking and Graphic Design.

My mother baked with my sister and I from a young age.  She was pulling different recipes and had us trying different things not just chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies.  I remember baking some cookies that had like orange peels baked in or something. I also had a grandmother who baked like NOBODY’S business.  It made her a Queen amongst her nephews (our whole family) and she was beloved.  Baking makes me feel like the Queen I witnessed my grandmother be. Baking connects me with my mother and the freedom to try different things.

Graphic Design allows my creative juices to flow by being a mash up  of coloring, painting, visual composing, and communicating.  Like baking you get to cook up something people can enjoy.

What's one embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

So many 😂… I am a member of a Black Greek Letter Organization, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.  “Stepping” is a rich tradition in our organizations.  Performing at an HBCU Homecoming Step Show is one of the pinnacles of “running the yard" in undergrad.  I am a graduate of Tuskegee University. At Tuskegee The Deltas ran the yard (Of Course I believe we did).  At this particular Homecoming Step Show My Linesisters and I had completed the best routine ever (we won that night) and with 5000 onlookers cheering us on we began our stroll to exit the floor. As we filed out strolling, I tripped on my Linesister’s shoe in front of me and fell…to the ground.  I somehow managed to pop up on the next beat (literally) of the song that played.  While only a few people caught it happening live, the video tape lives on and is still watched today by the friends who recorded it back then. 😂😂😂😂😂

What is your goal in this comedy game?

To Serve, Inspire and Connect with people, be potent, be relevant, take advantage of Quality Work opportunities and to build broad fame. To leave an honorable legacy for my son and my family. I want do stand up specials. I want to tour. I want to write for television. I want to be a series regular on a TV show.  I want to get at least 3 films made (that I write, direct, and/or have a role in).

You are a chess player/teacher, do you use the concept of chess in life?

Yes, but it's not necessarily intentional. I was always an “if then” thinker.  I recognized patterns and causal relationships long before I learned the game.  Chess honestly has given me personally a broader framework for self reflection and self improvement.  It is a mirror of self awareness, because bigger than "what we do" is "why we do” anything.  Chess helps me open my eyes and gather those truly inner insights. The icing on that cake is seeing causal actions and reactions play out in a low stakes game compared to the collateral of everyday life.

What's your pervert scale? 1-10

It’s kind of a 5 😂.  I think my high ratings on the pervert scale are behind me.