When Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock pack theaters around the country each year, it’s not difficult to understand why the comics sell so many tickets.
Seinfeld, who is coming to the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on June 24, was the star of one of the most popular sitcoms ever. Rock was a “Saturday Night Live” sensation who has played leading roles in a number of films, including “Head of State” and “Death at a Funeral.”
It’s not as easy to explain the box office appeal of Nate Bargatze.
The veteran humorist, who will perform Sunday at the Paramount, doesn’t have a television vehicle or notable film credits. The same goes for his pals Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer. However, all three standups have blown up as live entertainers.
“Comedy has changed so much from when I started in this business (in 2003),” Bargatze said by phone from his Nashville home. “There wasn’t Netflix or podcasts. Those are huge reasons why guys like Tom, Bert and I have such an audience without a sitcom or movies.
“The other huge thing is that comedy is everywhere. Comedy is in your pocket. Pull out your phone and you have access to some amazing comedians. Appearing on a podcast — not just having one, but appearing on a popular one — can change your life.”
Comic-UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” has been a game-changer for Bargatze.
“Joe’s podcast is massive,” Bargatze said. “His podcast is more influential than a sitcom. If he stopped doing a podcast to focus on a sitcom, that would be a step down. That’s how much the industry has changed.”
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What hasn’t changed for comedians is that they still have to be amusing to attract and keep an audience.
Bargatze, 40, who hails from sleepy Old Hickory, Tenn., jokes about relatable subjects like travel, family and pop culture. The married father of a 7-year-old daughter delivers a hilarious bit on how the young mothers from MTV’s “Teen Mom” have the right idea.
“It would be a lot easier to have kids when you’re 16 years old,” he said. “When you’re my age and you have a young kid, you get tired. But I love being a father and a husband. I talk about the fights my wife and I have, and not only is it something people can connect with, what I talk about comes from a place of love. I’m not an angry comic. My family comes first.”
After living in Los Angeles for the past decade, Bargatze recently moved back to his home state for the sake of his daughter.
“I wanted her to have a normal life,” he said. “Los Angeles is full of the abnormal. The cool thing is that I can have a career and she can have a regular childhood. It’s all worked out for us.”
While working out material in New York during his early years, Bargatze wondered if a comedy career would pan out.
“You never know what’s going to happen in this business,” he said. “You pay your dues for years. When good things happen, it might not work out as you hoped.”
For example, Bargatze laughed at how his first Netflix special debuted when iconic boxer Floyd Mayweather battled the legendary Manny Pacquiao on May 2, 2015, in what was dubbed the “Fight of the Century.” (Mayweather won.)
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“Nobody watched my special that night,” Bargatze said. “I didn’t even watch it, since I wanted to see that fight so bad. Talk about bad luck. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. It was just one of those things that was out of my control. But what I can control is my material, and that’s the cool thing about what I do. There’s no gatekeepers. It’s all me when it comes to the important stuff.”
• What: Comedian Nate Bargatze
• Where: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
• When: 7 p.m. Sunday
• Tickets: $20.20 to $149.75, Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com
• Artist’s website: Natebargatze.com