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Penguins Comedy Club gig made comedian Nathan Timmel an Iowa transplant

Now living in North Liberty with wife, children, he's performing again this weekend at Penguins

Comedian Nathan Timmel of North Liberty will perform at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids on Friday (1/3) and Saturda
Comedian Nathan Timmel of North Liberty will perform at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids on Friday (1/3) and Saturday (1/4), returning to the club that changed his life. (Cory Lewellen)

There’s no question how the Timmels feel about North Liberty. Veteran comic Nathan Timmel was a star on the rise in Los Angeles, but his life changed after playing Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids 13 years ago. Timmel, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate, met a University of Iowa alum.

“We started dating, and then we got married, and I decided I wanted to live with my wife (Lydia) in Iowa,” Timmel said. “I love it here.”

Comics often have to make the decision to leave for the industry cities on either coast. Lydia Timmel, who is part of the marketing department at the University of Iowa, isn’t a comedian, but she recently had to make a similar decision. She was offered a better paying job in Texas, but it would require relocation.

“My wife was headhunted and she was given a great offer,” Timmel said. “But after thinking about it long and hard, she came to the same conclusion I did, which is that Iowa City is the best city for us to live.”

Much of Timmel’s amusing anecdotes are inspired in North Liberty by his children, who are 7 and 5 years old.

“My wife and kids still present me with plenty of material,” Timmel said. “I don’t have to dream it up. I just have to report it. One of the best compliments I ever received was from a 21-year-old, who came out to a show and said, ‘You were really funny, and I don’t even have kids.’ People get what I’m talking about. It’s relatable.”

Timmel, 50, will wax about how kids rise in the ranks in youth sports as long as someone pays the academy.

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“At my daughter’s tae kwon do class, the instructor talks about how they have to practice hard to advance, but I watch these kids who can’t do kicks and don’t work on much. They get their belts just like everybody else. The guy that runs the thing is a drill sergeant and a banker.”

Count on Timmel for some potty humor as well.

“When my son goes to the bathroom, he stands on the toilet and turns toward the wall and squats down no matter why he’s relieving himself,” Timmel said. “He would be at home at Middle Eastern airports where there is just a hole in the ground instead of a toilet.”

Timmel is enamored of his kids enough that he has taken another career path, so he can be around his family more than the average parent.

“You read about the children of (actors) Michael Douglas and Gene Hackman,” Timmel said. “Gene Hackman has had one of the greatest acting careers, but his kids resent him for never being around. I’m around a lot.”

However, even Timmel can use a break.

“When you become a parent for the first time, you have something that you love like nothing else,” he said. “But you discover as much as you love being around them, that you really love to drop them off at the day care center for eight hours each day.”

Timmel will showcase some of the material from his forthcoming album, “This Could Get Awkward.”

“My favorite part of the album is the final cut, which is a 20-minute joke that starts in one place and I go down different tributaries,” he said. “People don’t realize that I’m telling the same joke for that long of a period. I go from one point and end up at another but I never leave the joke.”

Timmel will goof on cellphones, parenting and the talent deprived.

“I’m blown away by how successful Instagram influencers are,” he said. “They’ll get paid $250,000 a year since they’ll write about or talk about certain products. Look at Kendall Jenner. What’s her talent? But it doesn’t matter what she can do. People are hellbent on making her a billionaire.”

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The Timmel family will never be in Jenner’s tax bracket, but that’s just fine with them.

“I don’t need all of the money and fame,” he said. “Just give me what I have, which is my family, and the chance to go out and work as a comic. That’s all I need.”

Get out!

• What: Nathan Timmel

• Where: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

• When: 8 p.m. Friday (1/3) and Saturday (1/4)

• Tickets: $13 advance, $15 door; Penguinscomedyclub.com

• Artist’s website: Nathantimmel.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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