When you first meet Nicki Fox Toy–who you may know as a member of the improv troupe Sons of Harold–she has a quick smile and deep laugh that makes you instantly like her. She’s one of those people with whom you’d love to have a beer. A person with whom you could shoot the shit, but could the relationship be more?
Nicki says it’s hard for her to maintain longer relationships. She says it’s because she’s mouthy and bossy and controlling, but who – to some extent – isn’t? Real and deep friendships are hard. As we grow older, we realize it’s fun to have “all the friends,” but only a very few people will become strong and even life-long friends.
We pick them, initially, to keep us company in some extracurricular class we’re taking. Maybe we end up hanging out at parties or going to the beach. Then, one day we’re on the phone for hours solving the world’s problems. We’re eating dinner together and making a point to catch up whenever we can. Then one day we’re injured and in the hospital. The nurse asks, “Is this person family?” We answer yes. They are.
This Sunday Tell Me More…. Storytelling will feature five storytellers sharing stories about “connections and belonging.” Some of them will tell stories of blood relatives while, at least, one – guess who?! – will talk about the family we pick.
Hear Nicki’s story at The Push Comedy Theater after the Norfolk Comedy Festival, Sunday. Learn a little more about her here… now…
Name: Nicki Fox Toy (Yep, it’s a porn stars name… sorry if you google it)
Deb Markham: Who are you?
Nicki Fox Toy: According to some of my dear friends, I am a New York Bagel, an M&M, and a unicorn.
I am an easily amused, creative, loving, and sometimes funny woman. I live for my family and friends, and would do almost anything for the people I care about. I have spent the last 20 years being a wife and a mother, and not much else. I loved being those things, but something has been missing.
In the last couple of years, I have found myself. I have started living life not only for those that I love, but for myself too. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s wonderful! I love my children to the end of the earth and while I’m no longer married to their dad, he and I are great friends. I’m truly lucky (blessed if that’s your thing) to have them.
Where do you come from?
Venus right? Isn’t that what John Gray says? Kansas. I’m from Kansas. A wonderfully large small town called Manhattan. Manhattan Kansas. Home of the Kansas State Wildcats and 19 years of my life. I had an amazing childhood that included playing outside until dark, summer camps, little league softball games, and holiday trips with my family. My parents have been married for 44 years, have retired, and have recently bought a giant camper. Starting in 2016, they will be “summering” here in Virginia. I’m really excited to have them around more. Maybe.
Why are you here?
I joined the Navy in 1994 to see something other than my wonderfully large-small town in Kansas. I have been here ever since. I love it here. There are so many great things to do, see and get involved in. Hampton Roads is one of the greatest places I’ve ever been.
How might people know you?
When people say, “hey, I know you” I immediately apologize because I more than likely said or did something offensive. I’m one of those people that says what comes into their head. Sometimes even if I shouldn’t. I FEEL like I’ve gotten better at that, and I have been trying to make a conscious effort of it.
Most people know me from one of my kids’ activities or my own misadventures in softball, kickball, football and volleyball. Often, it’s someone I have drank with, and lately, it’s because they’ve seen me in and around the wonderful Push Comedy Theater!
Do you like to make people laugh? How do you make people laugh the most?
I personally love to laugh, and I try to surround myself with people that make me laugh as much as possible. I 100% enjoy being able to make someone laugh. I’m most funny when I’m being raw and true. If I overthink (and I usually do) it’s never funny. Someone remind me of that Sunday please.
Are you a likeable person? Why or why not?
Yes. Yes I am. It’s hard for me to say that, but I believe I am. However, if you come to listen to my story Sunday, you may hear me say otherwise. You may also hear some people say otherwise as well. I am likeable, but sometimes difficult.
What do you do for fun – other than make people laugh?
I play sports. When I say that I mean I used to play sports. Now I just show up in a jersey with a cooler of beer, and try to keep up with people half my age or more, and act foolish. I enjoy fishing, camping, going to the beach and being around my kids. I am an art collector. As you can see, I get to carry my art with me at all times, and that’s always pretty fun [points to cast on foot]! I also enjoy an evening of “Netflix and Chill.”
Are you a delicate flower or just accident prone?
I am going to steal this from a friend and say I am a Steel Magnolia. Accident prone, YES! Good grief I’m a clumsy SOB.
Do storytellers make good stories happen or are they by accident? Or is it a combination of both?
I think a good storyteller can make the most mundane things sound brilliant.
How did you realize you wanted to tell the story you’re going to tell this Sunday? No spoilers!
When I read the theme of Connections, the song “Stand By Me,” and suggestions of friendships and belonging. Plus the changes I’m going through in my life, I needed to tell this story of friendship.
Do you get stage fright? Do you think everyone does? Will it ever get better?!?!
I don’t get stage fright as much as I get stage diarrhea. This enormous wave of HOLY CRAP washes over me and I have to run to the restroom right before going on. I also drink a bit before going on stage to calm my nerves. Liquid courage to the rescue! Some people seem so confident and comfortable, I don’t’ know how they do it. For me, I don’t think it ever will get better. I think there is a level of nerves you need to have to perform; if you lose the nerves, maybe you’ve gotten too comfortable, sedentary maybe. Or you’re just better than me, and for that, I tip my invisible hat.
When and where else can we see you on stage this week?
Funny you would ask! This week is the 4th annual Norfolk Comedy Festival! It’s happening in the lovely City of Norfolk through Sunday. Thursday night, I get to play on stage with my improv group, Sons of Harold, with some of my very talented friends in the Locals Only show. If you can get away from your day to day rigamarole, get out and see some really funny people this week!
Did I miss anything? Is there anything you would like to add?
No. I’m barely alive after this emotional torment you’ve put me through.
SEE NICKI ON THE TELL ME MORE… STAGE
Nicki will join the Tell Me More… Storytelling stage at 8 p.m. this Sunday, Sept. 20, with JT Williams, Meredith Keating, Chris Fellini and Chris Chandler Each third Sunday of the month, Tell Me More… Storytelling hosts storytellers sharing stories based on any inspiration they glean from a word and song provided by the show’s organizers. This month the word is “connections” and the song is “Stand by Me,” by Ben E King. Admission is $5. For more information and updates on Sunday’s show, follow the event on Facebook.
Interested in giving storytelling a try? You can find a list of themes and pitch a story for an upcoming show on the Tell Me More… Storytelling site.
For a taste of the sort of thing you’ll hear at the show, listen to the most popular podcast episode recorded during our show in August. Melissa Baumann details the lengths her mother would go to for expired snack cakes: