On this day in comedy on May 29, 1963, the comedian known as Earthquake was born!
Actor, Voice-Over Artist, Radio Personality and stand-up comedian, Earthquake was born Nathaniel Stroman in Washington, DC and he guarded his secret identity, so it was only known to his bank and dry cleaners. Under his persona of Earthquake, Stroman shot comedy specials for HBO, appeared in the Kevin Smith film, Clerks II and the movie Longshots. On the TV front, Earthquake had a recurring role in Everybody Hates Chris and he supplied to voice of Root the Rooster in the film and video of Back at the Barnyard.
The stage moniker was coined by his mother. Seems she had tried to avoid having this child. She’d used the diaphragm and condoms, but Nathaniel came into the world anyway. So, she decided to name him after a natural disaster and he’s been wreaking house ever since. However, before he pursued his destiny, Quake was sidetracked with the more pressing business of living. His mother raised him in a poverty-stricken part of town. It wasn’t until after lunch was served at school that Quake had the strength to concentrate on his studies. Meaning he was a half-ass student because he could focus for half the day. His report card was sprinkled with “F” s.
Despite his academic failings, Earthquake showed promise as a cut-up. He was the class clown always getting laughs out of the other kids. When he thought about it later in life it upset him that none of his teachers had the vision or forethought to point him in the direction of a performer.
Without clear-cut guidance Earthquake enlisted in the Air Force right out of high school. He stayed there for eleven years, where he saw the world and got out of his mother’s house and the corruptive neighborhood where it sat. The military looked like the snug fit Earthquake had been searching for. He’d found his niche in life and was content to be a career military man. Then the Gulf War hit and the last man you would’ve ever suspected became a conscientious objector. Earthquake refused to fight in a war aimed a killing brown people and taking their oil. He was dishonorably discharged.
Prior to letting his convictions point him in his own direction, the military had given Earthquake an option he’d never considered. There was a talent show, “Tops and Blues”. He entered it and was bitten. Once out of the service he dug into comedy, gigging in dinky clubs and holes-in-the-wall, until he was good enough to ask for and receive money for his time. He also contributed to Steve Harvey’s Morning radio show. Before long he had his own spot – The Uptown Comedy Corner in the Buckhead District of Atlanta, Georgia. He as the host and the hottest talent in Black comedy came through his club. This gave him much needed exposure. He opened up two more clubs: one in Dallas the other in Atlanta.
Earthquake took advantage of the Black Comedy Boom of the early 1990s and was seen on the major stand-up shows of the day; most notably, BETs Comic View and HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. His performance on the latter was so well received that he was recruited to be on the Def Comedy Jam Tour. From there his career blossomed.
Touring was the hot ticket for comedians during the boom and Earthquake was no exception. Besides, the Def Jam Tour he also joined the Latham Entertainment Presents Comedy Tour in 2002. In 2005 he did “About Goddamn Time”, the All-Star Def Comedy Jam in 2007 and TBS’s Comedy Festival Lollapalooza in 2008. Earthquake was the main attraction on Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam Special in 2009 and in 2011 he popped up on TV One’s Way Black When. 2013 saw Earthquake make a high-profile appearance on ABC’s The View as a favorite of co-host, Whoopi Goldberg and also a return to radio. He was full time on station WBLS during the weekdays until his departure in 2016.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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