Comedian Nate Craig is coming back to his hometown of Madison to host some holiday shows, and to share some big career news.
Craig has a recurring role on a new Netflix series, “Maniacs,” starring Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Gabriel Byrne and Sally Field.
“The show’s loaded,” Craig said in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “I’m not a huge part, but I’m in five episodes. It’s just been the best experience of my career.”
Craig said there’s not much he can reveal about his role in “Maniacs,” which has an as-yet-to-be-announced release date on Netflix sometime in 2018. Stone and Hill play two patients in a mental institution, each living in their own respective fantasy worlds.
“Emma and Jonah have their worlds, and their worlds collide,” Craig said. “I exist in Jonah’s world. That’s about as much as I can say.”
“Maniacs” was written by Chicago novelist Patrick Somerville, based on a successful Norwegian TV show. Each of the 10 episodes was directed by Cary Fukunaga, who directed the first season of HBO’s “True Detective.”
Craig was hired for “Maniacs” through a friend he had worked with in the Chicago theater scene years ago. Since moving to Los Angeles, Craig has worked primarily as a stand-up comedian and a writer on TV shows like MTV’s “Ridiculousness.” Getting the chance to act in front of the camera, and with such A-list talent, was a thrill and an education, he said.
“It was nuts to get to watch these people work right in front of me,” he said. “Emma Stone is just so subtle and such a movie star. It’s really an honor to be a part of it.”
He said he especially connected with Irish actor Byrne (“The Usual Suspects”).
“I think that guy would be the best person to work with on a movie set or the best person to work with in a factory,” Craig said. “He’s just a regular guy who came from the real world and he cares about all the right things. He was so approachable and accessible and had all the perfect insights and advice from scene to scene.”
Craig finished filming “Maniacs” in New York last month. He is returning to Madison for Christmas and to host a couple of shows in town. He’ll host a show with several of his favorite Chicago comedians at 9 p.m. Friday at the Brink Lounge, 701 E. Washington Ave. Tickets are $12 ($15 at the door).
He is also hosting “Townie Fest 9,” a charity raffle to benefit the Aaron Myers Foundation, Saturday night at Alt‘n Bach’s, 2602 Whalen Lane. He plans to time the raffle during halftime of the Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings game.
Craig’s approach to stand-up comedy has evolved over the years. While he was heavily into political comedy during the 2000s and the Bush administration, he moved into more personal comedy on his 2015 album “Eggshell.”
But current events have pulled him back to politics in 2017. He said he prides himself on writing a couple of topical jokes for each set based on the news of the day, even if the jokes will only have a shelf life of a day or two.
Personally, he finds himself pulled toward political comedy, and makes a point to watch Stephen Colbert’s monologue whenever he can.
“The man running the country used to own a teen beauty pageant,” he said. “I need somebody to make some sense of that for me.”