Comedian Earthquake hopes to have them shaking in the aisles

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When: 8 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Pittsburgh Improv, Waterfront, Homestead

Admission: $22

Details: 412-462-5233

About the writer

William Loeffler is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer and can be reached at 412-320-7986 or via e-mail.

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When you call yourself Earthquake, you have to be prepared to answer questions about how you got that name -- maybe for the rest of your natural-born life.

One story holds that Nathaniel Stroman earned the seismic moniker because the way he shook his hefty bulk onstage reminded some folks of a San Andreas hiccup.

Or is there more to it than that?

"My mother gave me that," says the comic, who opens a three-night stand Friday at the Pittsburgh Improv. "She said, 'Any time you take all the precautions not to have a kid, from the diaphragm to .... a condom, and you still have a child, there's nothing else you can name that child but a natural disaster.' "

Stroman joined the Air Force to escape the shootings and other violence of his hometown of Washington, D.C. Then he found out that he was going to another place where they shoot at you.

"I joined the military to go to college," he says. "Then the (Persian Gulf) war broke out."

He became a conscientious objector and eventually received a dishonorable discharge after 11 years in the Air Force.

"If you're in the military and you ain't rah-rah - 'Rush that hill!' ... If you ain't that type of person, they isolate you," he says. "They was rough on me on that end. I just started talking about it and it led me to this."

He embarked on a stand-up career, he says, because he could vent his anger to the audiences and get paid for it, as opposed to paying a psychiatrist.

Stroman caught the wave of black comedy cable franchises in the mid-'90s, appearing on BET's "Comic View" and "Def Comedy Jam" on HBO. He's in post-production on an hour-long television special of his best work and has a recurring role as Uncle Mike on "Everybody Hates Chris" on the CW network. He also has a role in the upcoming film "Something Like a Business."

If he's distrustful of the military, Earthquake seems even less enamored of Hollywood.

"At least drug dealers have some integrity," he says "There is no integrity when it comes to entertainment."