Columbus Comedy Festival: Nickey Winkelman

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In college, Nickey Winkelman's stage dreams went from playing dramatic roles like Lady Macbeth to telling jokes about large lady parts.

"I had heard so many small penis jokes from male comedians," Winkelman said, "I thought, 'Someone needs to do giant vagina jokes.'"

A lifelong "theater kid," Winkelman studied acting at University of California, Santa Barbara. She started doing stand-up after she took comedy acting and solo performance writing classes.

When she moved to Columbus she joined Sketch By Number. The group of young, trained actors and writers perform original "Saturday Night Live"-style skits.

Blue comedy is the technical term, but Winkelman's fellow SBN comedian and friend Daniel Prater explains her shtick better.

"Nickey has a well-honed sense of what audiences will appreciate and find funny," he said. "I would describe her act as sex, drugs and Disney movies."

One of her routines re-imagines "The Little Mermaid" as an adult film. Another pokes fun at an ex-boyfriend.

Occasionally outrageous, Winkelman makes talking like a sailor seem charming. That's not easy.

"The more offensive a joke may be, the funnier it has to be in order to pull it off," she said. "I don't want people to laugh because it's shocking. I want them to laugh in spite of it being shocking."

Many are taking notice of her skills. Last year she won CoverGirl's national Stand Up for Beauty Contest (she joked about having a mustache as a kid).

She also helped pen Sketch By Number's collaborative concept skit "Back in My Day Olympics," where elderly people battle in competitions like the "Short Form Random Topic Complain Off." It won the top prize at last year's Shadowbox Sketch Comedy Festival.

Winkelman's helped her sketch troupe take on subjects like Jesus' high school experience and the "bromantic tragedy" of Bromeo and Julian, but she hopes her future has a balance of dramatic and comedic plotlines. She feels she's in a great place to work toward that.

"My peers at Sketch By Number keep me really motivated. They're all so creative," Winkelman said. "So are other Columbus comics. I'm very blessed to be around all of them."