Whiskey Bear Comedy Festival: Nickey Winkelman

Jim Fischer

Nickey Winkelman doesn'treally plan to murder her ex-boyfriend.

Winkelman theorizes she told him, "I'm going to kill you," more often while they were dating than since, but the last one was brought to her boss' attention, resulting in a little hot water.

"It's embarrassing. You shouldn't threaten to kill someone. But that's what came out," she confesses.

So naturally, the whole thing has become a bit for the standup comic, alongside stories about what a bad year she had in 2014 - from having her house broken into to being hit by a car while walking Downtown (something she's only recently allowed to speak about, due to no-longer-pending legalities).

"As a comedian you only go through those things to write jokes," Winkelman said. "If you go through stuff and you don't get a bit out of it, you're failing!"

Which is not to say Winkelman's act is a downer. She tells story jokes "about things that happen in my life," and that means bringing the bad with the good. And doing so with the help of sarcasm, self-deprecation and a bit of crude edge. ("I'm much more polite in real life," she assured.)

The current onstage Nickey is the closest to the real-world one, Winkelman said. Since she started doing standup as a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she worked her way through a few characters, trying out, among others, "slutty" and "ditzy." She kept some of the edge she tried out, feeling at home with a healthy dose of cursing, but not the stark attitude that accompanied it.

"It takes a while to act like you," Winkelman said. "It has to be an act, polished, a performance. But it has to be you, so you don't come across as phony."

Winkelman's early inspirations were vintage "Saturday Night Live" actors - Steve Martin, John Belushi, Gilda Radner - whose work she learned of through her dad.

"My dad and I memorized skits and bits. We used to recite Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch. We did Samurai Deli from 'SNL,' and [Dan Akroyd's Bass-O-Matic]."

These days, she's working with her dad at his home remodeling company. Holding forth among a group of construction workers, "I'm finally in a situation where I'm the least crude person," she joked.

At her busiest, you could catch Winkelman on just about any and every stage that offered time to local comics, open mic or otherwise. Now you can find her, typically, one or two nights a week. She cohosts and books "Tuesdays With Mak & Winks" at Shadowbox Live's Backstage Bistro, which was once strictly a comedy night but now has expanded to include sketches, storytelling and even an upcoming breakdance show. (Yes, you read that right.) Winkelman also books Camelot Cellars' once-a-month comedy night.

In the end, she remains busy enough to need to add new bits to her show - hot water over an ill-advised, offhand threat to an old boyfriend notwithstanding.

Besides, she said, "I don't really want him to die, because then I couldn't talk bad about him."