Sidney native seeks community support

By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@sidneydailynews.

Sidney native Nathan Barnes, shown in front of the Shelby County Courthouse, is vying for an opportunity with the film, “Fast and furious 8.”

Courtesy photo

SIDNEY — Nathan Barnes is looking for some help from his hometown.

Barnes, 32, a Sidney native now of Hagerstown, Indiana, has an opportunity for a role in the new “Fast and Furious 9” movie.

“There are two different opportunities for me for the film,” said Barnes. “I’ve been a big fan of the film series and that’s why I’m pushing so hard to get the role. My cousin, Steve, who is battling pancreatic cancer, is the driving force for me to make this a reality.”

The role in the film is based on a character Barnes created, Ty Sketchers. He is a character on a YouTube channel. Barnes has his own site on YouTube under the name of Skeeter Jerkins.

Barnes, who is a comedian, said the opportunity is a dream come true.

“I found humor in trying to get a degree,” said Barnes. “I write all my own material. It’s all really life events and I fluff it out.”

September was a whirlwind month for Barnes as he visited California. While he was there, he performed at the Comedy Store thanks to Pauly Shore, who also helped Barnes get his opportunity for the “Fast and Furious 9.”

“I met Pauly Shore a year ago,” said Barnes. “He advised me to put my video on the auditions website. A talent scout said I had two opportunities available, and I wound up in LA with an opportunity for ‘Fast and Furious.’”

Barnes said he developed the character of Ty Sketchers after wondering what it would be like to binge watch YouTube for hours and days at a time.

“I had him go down the rabbit hole and think that there are conspiracies everywhere,” said Barnes. “He (Ty) stayed up for three days watching it. He (Ty) developed a twitch and tick from watching all the shows. I put makeup on and had dark rings under my eyes, and away I went.”

Barnes said he’s made his part-time job as a comedian into a full-time job. He’s performed at bars and other locales throughout Ohio and Indiana.

“Even if the role in ‘Fast and Furious’ doesn’t happen, I’m going to take some improv classes,” he said. “I want to expand more as a stand-up comic. I’m also working toward doing more acting.”

Pauly Shore’s mom, Mitze Shore, was responsible for his appearance at the Comedy Store.

“She’s launched the careers of stand-up comics such as Robin Williams and Richard Pryor,” said Barnes.

“(The Comedy Store) is like the Grand Ole Opry for stand-up comics,” he said.

Walking into the Comedy Store was like walking in the footsteps of the comics he admired — Redd Foxx, Robin Williams and so many more.

“It was like I was in a time machine for a split second,” he said. “I was back in the 1970s and 1980s and to capture time.”

He said the audience liked his show.

Barnes said he may be returning to LA next week for a follow up on his opportunity with “Fast and Furious.” Filming for the movie by Universal Studios begins in April 2019.

His mom, Tina VanHook, of Sidney, said she’s very proud of her son. She said she had her son at a young age.

“I grew up with Nathan,” said VanHook, who also has another son and daughter. “Nathan played a bigger role in their lives than just being a big brother. He worked when he was growing up. As a single parent, I was working two jobs. He helped me on that. He was a big influence on his sister and brother. I’m amazed at what he’s done with his life.”

Their family, said VanHook is very close.

“This is an opportunity for him,” said VanHook. “This is an opportunity for his wife and kids and family. It will change things for everybody in our family.”

Barnes said he was told to promote himself for the role in “Fast and Furious.” He’s using social media to help tell his story. He can be followed at #NathanBarnesFF9 and #fastnineNathanBarnes. He can be followed on Facebook at On YouTube, he can be followed at He can be followed on Twitter at @skeeterjerkins and on Instagram at Nathan_Barnes_Skeeter. He has a Pay Pal account for anyone wishing to help him with his expenses associated with the trip back to Los Angeles. The account can be found on his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

VanHook said there have been a lot of people helping her son on his path to success.

The steady father-figure in his life was his cousin, Scott King, who passed away from ALS. His Pop Warner football coach, Ron Burns, was also a big influence in his life.

“Tom Roll was my night school teacher,” said Barnes. “He came to my house and went out of his way to make sure I’d get a diploma. Mr. (Tom) Clark at the Opportunity School also helped. They were two big influences in my life. I was in the first class at the Opportunity Schoo. There’s a Nathan Barnes Rule because I found a loophole in the program.”

VanHook said her son helps brighten up everyone’s day when he’s around.

“Ninety-five percent of comedians battle depression,” said Barnes. “We feel better when we’re making others feel better.”

Barnes said if the opportunity with “Fast and Furious” comes true, he wants to be able to help families who have a loved one battling addiction.

“This would give me financial freedom to help families and children of those affected,” he said. “I want to help out a town (Sidney) that’s being ripped apart because of drugs.”

When he’s not doing stand up comedy, Barnes is a landscaper at his cousin’s business.

Barnes is also the son of the late Dawayne Barnes. He is a 2004 graduate of Sidney High School.

Barnes and his wife, Brittany, have five children. He has an associate degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. He is a U.S. Navy veteran. photo photo photo

Sidney native Nathan Barnes, shown in front of the Shelby County Courthouse, is vying for an opportunity with the film, “Fast and furious 8.” native Nathan Barnes, shown in front of the Shelby County Courthouse, is vying for an opportunity with the film, “Fast and furious 8.” Courtesy photo photo

By Melanie Speicher


Reach the writer at 927-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 927-538-4822.