Nick is a Marketing Specialist & Actor
Nick Nappo returns to the podcast from episode 135 to talk about his shift in hobbies from competitive trivia to theater acting! He also talks about how his acting experience helps with his ability to develop relationships in the office and how your passion truly defines who you are as a person!
• Nick talks about winning another trivia championship
• Returning to theater acting
• Acting in Shakespeare
• How making a career out of a hobby can change your perception of it
• Talking about his theater performances in the office
• How his acting experience helps with developing relationships in the office
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Welcome to Episode 282 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following-up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published very soon, and it’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Nick Nappo. He’s a marketing specialist with Konica Minolta, and now he’s with me here today. Nick, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Nick: John, thank you so much for having me back. It’s great to be here.
John: For sure, man. I mean it’s been a couple of years and you’ve had some changes so it’s going to be exciting.
Nick: Yes, I have. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.
John: Absolutely. But first, rapid fire questions right out of the gate here.
Nick: Of course.
John: Here we go. Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Nick: I never got in to Game of Thrones. I mean I’ve never been into the sci-fantasy genre at all so I’m going to say Harry Potter.
John: Yeah. I’ve never seen Game of Thrones either because it’s one of those channels you have to pay for.
Nick: And then the way it ended, you know, 20 points for that.
John: Yeah. I just heard it was terrible so I’m like, well, now I don’t want to watch.
Nick: Yeah, facts.
John: All right. This is an easy one, or maybe not. Oceans or mountains.
John: Oceans. Yeah, that’s what I figured. Yeah, yeah, living in Jersey. Kindle or real books?
Nick: I actually like real book. I’ve never owned a Kindle, but I really like the feel and even the smell of a real book.
John: No, totally. Especially those older ones. Yeah, that’s pretty awesome. How about brownie or ice cream?
John: There you go. That was a trick question. That is the right answer. How about a favorite TV show of all time?
Nick: Oh, favorite TV show of all time. That’s tough.
John: It could be more than one. That’s okay.
Nick: I have no shame. I watched Full House in high school like I was getting paid for it.
John: Right, cut it out.
Nick: Cut it out.
John: I’ve actually done comedy with Dave Coulier.
Nick: Dave Coulier? Oh, nice.
John: Yeah, super nice guy.
Nick: But as I got older, I appreciated the Golden Girls, really got into that.
John: Oh, hilarious show.
Nick: Love it so much. Now, I’m really into Schitt’s Creek. That’s a funny one.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Very funny shows. I see where you’re at. How about more jeans or khakis?
John: Jeans, okay. One more. Toilet paper roll. Over or under?
Nick: Over. Who has time for that? Who has time for that kind of negativity and that kind of challenge in their life?
John: Right, exactly. I’m just leaving.
So your Episode 135. Holy cow, man. We talked of course the trivia and world championships, kicking butt and taking names and having people stop by your cubicles and asking you questions and keeping you sharp. Is that something that you’re still doing now, or you’ve changed it up a little?
Nick: Well, actually, I should tell you that this other team at my company actually got in on it too. I think I mentioned that I had the white board outside of my cubicle where I would post a question every week. Well, this other team decided to get on and they had a big white board in their area. It was like a team collective white board. They would post a question every day, and they would like rotate around and you know, I kid around, and I asked them about it, and I said, “What are you doing? You guys are jacking my swag.” And then they’re like, listen, some people like Coke and some people like Pepsi.
It’s a fun thing though so we played off of each other’s questions. They ask really good questions too. There’s another guy who is on their team that’s also really into trivia and he’s just a beast when it comes to that kind of stuff. He’s taken the Jeopardy test, so I said I’m pulling for him to be in the show. Yeah, that’s something I still continue with and people still know me for that.
John: That’s cool that that rubbed off on others that clearly, had you not even done that or had you been like well, you know, I don’t want to share that with people or whatever, that would have never happened and now, it’s carried on into another department, and it’s a thing.
Nick: Yeah. I really solidified my place. People know me, and people have gotten to know me, and they’ve got to really know what I’m all about. Just speaking to your goal here, what you’re looking to accomplish, people need to know the real you. They really need to know what about you and what really drives you outside of work because that’s what really defines you as a person, that’s what really makes the whole you, and that’s what will make people gravitate towards you and want to get to know you better.
Since then, they’ve gravitated towards me, I would say in a different way because when we last spoke, that was spring of 2018. So early that year, we went back to Atlantic City, and I mentioned we won again, we won the World Tavern Trivia National Championship back to back.
John: Which is huge.
Nick: Yeah. It was great. It was fun. But after that, my passion shifted a little bit and it was around that same time that I stopped doing performance poetry. I mentioned in our first interview that I had been to Denver in 2017 for the National Poetry Slam. I was part of the Rockland County team that represented the county at National Poetry Slam in 2016 and ’17.
After I came back from Denver in 2017, I didn’t do poetry anymore. I just ran out of things to say. I still love performing and things like that, but I was still involved just like an audience member and a participant and a groupie and stuff like that, but I didn’t really continue to perform poetry.
For about a year, I didn’t have anything to really fuel that creative outlet, that I had have for my entire life. I was looking for something to do. The summer of 2018, I saw that this theatre company near me, this community theatre was having auditions for a play called Disgraced which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. It’s one of the probably most compelling plays and the most powerful plays of this past decade. It basically talks about Muslim-American identity and political and religious identity in the United States following 9/11.
It was a very topical play, a very relevant play, very provocative play. It was the kind of thing I wanted to get involved in. I went to this theatre and I auditioned. This was the first play I had gone out for in six years. I mean I had done it in high school. I grew up in the theatre since I was ten years old. I was in al the plays in high school, studied it in college, did plays there, I did it for a little bit after college.
Then it just stopped being fun. It turned into something I had to go do every night, and it’s really different when money gets involved, right? When something is your career just versus your hobby, there’s a lot of pressures of needing to impress a casting director, an agent, or needing to pay your rent or your bills. It was those aspects that really pulled me away from acting six years ago. But when I came back into it, I was like well, let me do this again. Let me take a risk. Let me put myself out there. Let me try and get to know new people and use this as a way to really explore a different part of myself, a part of myself that I didn’t really know that was there. Let me challenge myself. I went to this audition and I got the part.
John: That’s awesome.
Nick: Yeah, and that went up in January 2019, then that was the first of four plays that I did in 2019. That was the start of getting assimilated in the theatre scene around here, New York, New Jersey, and there were a lot of great companies around here that it just represents a circuit and people get involved with the different theatres, and everybody knows everybody, so after Disgraced, I went to do Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers at another theatre just right down the road from my house and then after that, if you want to talk about challenging yourself, I did Shakespeare.
John: Holy cow.
Nick: Yeah, I was Prospero in The Tempest for a local Shakespeare company just a big leading role and even though I was only 30, I knew I was far younger than all of the other great actors that have ever played the role, but it was like well, let me do this. Let me go out on a limb and challenge myself not just to learn all of these lines but to bring a young fresh take to this iconic character. Let me do it my own way and let me do it in a way that’s true to myself. The authenticity really came out and the way in which I rose to the occasion, I feel really helped me grow as an actor. That was a great role.
Then after that, I did The Full Monty down in New Jersey which is my all-time favorite musical. That was the biggest joy I’ve had on stage. So we’re here. Obviously given the current circumstances, I mentioned that my show — the show I was involved in got called off, well, actually it was rescheduled to next spring. They planned their season for next year and they decided that it would happen next spring after all. Never say never so I’ll be back into it.
This time, I’ve been doing play readings, I had gotten back into writing so writing ten-minute plays and just trying to get more involved in like the playwriting community, thankfully for Zoom, thankfully for all these videoconferencing platforms such as QuadCast. You’re never far from people and there’s always a great way for you to connect with others.
John: That’s so fantastic and so cool to hear. I mean you did it back in the day but when it’s your job and when there’s money involved like you said, it’s different. I mean I made that switch from doing comedy for fun at night and al of a sudden, it was like oh, wow. This is how I have to make a living. Now, there’s some hustle, and now there’s grit, and you have to do stuff like the jokes that you don’t really want to do because you need the money.
Nick: Exactly. There are career pressures. Like you said, you find yourself pursuing just every little thing. Even if you’re just vaguely right for it, at least when I do it now as a hobby, I can pick and choose what I get involved with, and I can dedicate myself in projects that I’m really passionate about and that really sing to me.
With all the things I’ve done in the past year, I’ve never felt like I was wasting my time. I mean I worked hard. I was tired of course but I —
John: For sure.
Nick: I never felt like my time was wasted.
John: When passion is driving it, then it’s not as exhausting.0
Nick: No, absolutely not.
John: And especially when you get to do Full Monty, it’s like man, I would be in the crowd for this. But I’m the one on the stage. I’m watching the show from on the stage.0
Nick: That was just an unreal experience. It was so great, so great.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool to hear, and just how it lights you up so much, and you can just hear it in your voice. I guess is this something that you share with people at the office now too.
Nick: In fact, yeah. Actually, it is. When I would market my shows, I would just put the little poster in the common area next to the water cooler and people would ask me about the show and that’s how I got to learn that people really enjoy theatre or they, themselves, were involved in theatre or they had a family member that was involved in theatre.
There’s actually another co-worker of mine that has her own theatre company here in New Jersey, so I’ve seen a couple of shows of her so it’s definitely something we bond over and we can have the conversations. It’s always good when theatre people can connect with each other because oftentimes, they’re in a world where people — I mean they appreciate what they do but they don’t really understand the nitty-gritty of what they do. It’s always nice to connect with people that share those same stories and those same challenges and struggles, and also, those same joys.
John: Yeah, yeah. Because I mean the show’s maybe three hours long, but you don’t understand the months and months of rehearsal and practice to get to that three-hour.
Nick: Yeah. For a lot of people, it’s a fun night out, but for people like me, it’s been two months of rehearsing three or four nights a week and on weekends too, I’m learning the lines and you know, it’s a lot of work to create a character.
John: For sure. Do you ever like on the last night, ever throw in some ringers or so something a little bit off grid?
Nick: No. Well, I may not be being paid, but I’m still as professional as —
John: Oh, okay. All right. Because sometimes, when we do comedy shows, we would have like okay, everybody, you have to work this word into your set somehow and like it’s funny because by the third person, the audience kind of catches on but yeah, that’s just something that I would do and why I’m probably not an actor.
Nick: I mean I take that back. One time, I did the Pirates of Penzance, and I was one of the pirates in the ensemble. The way the show was staged and choreographed, the pirates would often stand in clumps all the time, very tight together, so one of the guys brought in this little Lego that looked like — we called it little mini Fredrick, because Fredrick was one of the characters in the play, so it looked like it.
Throughout the play, starting from the beginning and going all the way to the end, we would pass this little Lego figurine among each other on stage. Just like if you were putting your arm around a guy, you would like shove it down his shirt or like stick it into his pocket and you would just try and move the thing around as much as possible. If you had it at the end of the show, you lost.
John: Oh, that’s great.
Nick: One performance, there was the curtain call, so I went, and I took my bow and I was standing with the other pirates, and I was like, this is great. I don’t have the Lego. I locked eyes with this one guy and he looked at me maniacally and he just went over to me and just opened my collar to shove the — and I lost.
John: Right, because it’s technically not over yet.
Nick: Exactly. Yeah, we’re still on stage so still a fair game.
John: But that’s the kind of stuff that makes it fun and interesting especially when you’re part of the ensemble where it’s like well, let’s make it fun because we’re not in the front and singing all the lead stuff and whatever.
Nick: People might be seeing you, but the central focus isn’t on you, so that’s room for you to have fun and just do something like that, just very discreet of course.
John: That’s super awesome, man. That’s so cool. Have you ever had people come to any of your shows?
Nick: Oh, yeah. I’m very grateful to have co-workers that are very supportive of my endeavors. Some of them have seen all the shows I’ve been in so far.
Nick: Yeah. They like to come opening night because at some theatres, they do like an opening night reception. It’s the other thing, I entice them with food and champagne and stuff like that. So yeah, and then we go out and we pulled afterwards and we go to another bar afterwards and we go to another bar. It’s just a really fun evening. We’re hanging out, we’re having fun and we’re still celebrating the success of the shop.
John: Right. Do you feel like you’re connecting with maybe different people than the trivia people or is it still sort of the same group?
Nick: Yeah. Actually, I would say, because with trivia, I think it appeals to a really specific type of person. It takes a really specific type of person to excel in trivia and really appreciate trivia but theatre is an art form, so performing artform just like TV, just like film, and people really get into it just like they would a movie or a TV show and because we’re so close to New York, we have Broadway, we have this really active theatre and performing arts community in our backyard so people really take advantage of that so they have an increased appreciation for that than they would trivia at a bar. In that way, yeah, I definitely have connected with different kinds of people.
John: That’s fantastic, because then yeah, I mean that reach opens up there and then do you feel like that helps the work relationships? I mean just like I mean your trivia did for sure, but I would imagine, it would enhance it as well.
Nick: Yeah. Well, absolutely, John. Because with theatre, you’re on your stage and you’re vulnerable. You’re playing a character that enables you, forces you, you know sometimes even to explore a different part of yourself and a different part of your humanity. As a part of your humanity that somebody might not see in real life let alone at work.
When you’re bringing in a co-worker to see something that maybe doesn’t represent the most flattering part of yourself or maybe like the most socially proper, I should say, part of yourself, that’s definitely exposure. That’s definitely letting somebody else into your world and seeing you at your most vulnerable and at your most real, and at your most true, and at your most human. If that doesn’t enhance the scope of the relationship you have with somebody professionally or otherwise, I don’t know what does.
John: That’s for sure it. Have you ever thought like well, you know, is this going to carry over into work or are they going to not talk to me anymore?
Nick: I felt that way for The Full Monty because I had no reservations at all about doing that show. I love that show so much. I was like, well, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For a while, I as hesitant about you know, should I tell my co-workers? Luckily, I have a co-worker that I’m pretty close with and I was talking to her about it, she was like well, you know, Nick, I think at this point, you should really own it because this is what you’re about.
I was like, you know what? You’re right. This is who I am. I’m not going to hold anything back because that’s not what an adult does and that’s not what a human being should do. These people deserve to know who I really am because I’m comfortable with myself and I feel like I can trust these people now with something that’s really important to me and I told them about it and they came to the closing performance of the show and they absolutely loved it, and I wish I had told them sooner. I wish I had told more people sooner.
John: Yeah, but I mean that’s such great advice though. Just own it. I mean it’s not illegal. It’s a Broadway theatre show.
Nick: Yeah. The people that I’m working with, there are actually a lot of teachers, a lot of public school teachers in the cast, and the couple of the guys I did it with, one of them is a college professor, the other one’s a high school teacher, our choreographer was a high school English teacher, so the one who was showing us all these moves. By day, she’s a high school English teacher and you know, this is what she’s doing at night. There were definitely a lot of teachers involved with the production. If they all own it, we all own it and we’re all having fun just why hold back?
John: Yeah. I mean just own it. I love that. I mean such great encouragement for everyone else with their hobbies and passions is just own it type of a thing because it’s not like oh, he’s on that show. I’m not going to talk to him again or oh, he’s fired. If anything, it’s gone the other way where now, more people know about you than before.
Nick: In more ways than one.
John: Right. That’s awesome. Well, this is so cool to hear, Nick, and so encouraging, man. It’s really encouraging and before I wrap this up though, it’s only fair that I allow you to become the host of the show if you would like to rapid fire question me or ask me anything, I’ll let you be the host now, so you’re in charge. So here we go.
Nick: Okay. Let me ask you, oceans or mountains?
John: That’s a good question, yeah. I mean I guess I’ll say oceans simply because the mountains are right there. I can just go in my backyard and see them living in Denver, maybe I’m spoiled by seeing them so much, so oceans is more of a treat I guess where I have to get on an airplane to go to them.
Nick: Yeah. You’re in landlocked state.
John: Right. I equate oceans with being warmer even though it’s not always the case but whenever I go, it’s warmer. It’s a beach, you know.
Nick: For sure. Let’s see. Load up a pizza.
John: Oh, okay. Here we go. Yeah, pretty much all the meats. I mean not sardines though. That’s weird. I don’t even know why that’s a thing, but year, I mean pepperoni, sausage, I mean ground beef, ham, and then I have to have a little bit of color so I’ll do green peppers and spinach, maybe some mushrooms, I pile it all on like it’s just like all of it.
Nick: When you were starting off, I thought you were describing like a meat lover’s thing, like a pizza —
John: Right, but then some vegetables because I’m not an animal.
Nick: Because I’m an adult male.
John: Exactly. No black olives. Those are gross.
Nick: Oh, Italian. I go for all olives all the time. Favorite pro sports team?
John: Favorite pro sports team. Yeah, wow. This is tough. Probably St. Louis Cardinals baseball. That’s probably what I would say. Yeah, way more into the college sports but yeah, probably Cardinals baseball, I would say.
Nick: Okay. In the accounting world, who are your favorite speakers? Who are your favorite people that you follow?
John: Oh, okay. Well, a buddy of mine, Greg Kyte, who’s been on the show. He’s very funny also. He does comedy and he does a really funny ethics training that’s really good. He’s really great. So yeah, I guess Greg’s probably my favorite as far as that goes because he’s a reverend too.
Nick: Yeah. I love Greg. I followed him for years, for definitely the past few years but yeah, really cool. I’m going to ask you, favorite thing you own, favorite thing you have.
John: Oh, favorite thing I own, favorite thing I have, so I have a couple of things, I’ve answered other things, but this one that I haven’t brought up before, is I have a typewriter that was my grandfather’s and he is from probably like 1925 maybe, old, old typewriter. Royal is the company, the brand. It’s just a super old typewriter that he used to use all the time.
It’s still kind of cool because he used to smoke a pipe a lot. And so it still has a little bit of that pipe smell from his tobacco that he would smoke. Yeah, it still works. Absolutely. It does the ribbons and everything. I haven’t used it, but it still definitely works and it’s just cool because it’s like something that I always equated with him. You know, he would type letters to me or whatever, and stuff like that. It was just a cool thing that I have that’s pretty neat for me.
Nick: That’s awesome.
John: Awesome, man. Well, this has been so much fun, Nick. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me on the Follow-up Friday on What’s Your “And”?
Nick: For sure, John. Thank you again for having me. This was so much fun.
John: Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Nick on stage or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com and all the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.