Registered nurse, comedian and baker. These professions might not sound like an obvious mix—but you'll find all three in Wisconsin native Sam Schedler, whose social media following measures in the hundreds of thousands (and counting). During the pandemic, taking care of sick patients around the clock and returning home to stare at four walls took a toll on Sam. "I was like, 'I need a hobby,'" he says. "I started making silly videos on TikTok, then decided I wanted to try something new. So I took up baking!"
Take up baking he did, from chocolate caramel tart to milk bread to French silk pie. Trying new recipes brings him joy—even when he makes mistakes (which he's hilariously open about in his videos). And there's a fundraising component to his baking that makes it all worthwhile. Not to mention the positive feedback from fans and followers. Pair that with a desire to make lighthearted, entertaining videos and voilà! You have a nursing-baking-comedy juggernaut.
We chatted with Sam about his wonderfully unprofessional baked goods, the pride he feels as a representative of the LGBTQIA+ community and why inclusion is at the heart of everything he does.
You have a lot of careers! Let’s start with what led you to nursing.
SAM: I was overwhelmed by choosing a major in college, so I just went with the same one my brother and sister did. I thought learning about the human body was really cool, and I also liked the relational aspect of nursing. But all throughout college, I was like, "I'm never going to be able to work in a hospital." I had really bad anxiety about messing up. Adding to my anxiety was the fact that a friend of mine who was in nursing school at the time told me you can only act serious at a hospital. That really freaked me out. Thankfully, when I got to a hospital, I realized that the relationship between nurse and patient is super-duper special and there is absolutely a time and a place for humor and levity. I'm glad that person was wrong.
Has baking helped ease any of the anxiety you face as a nurse?
I think it has definitely helped cement the idea that you are going to make mistakes, no matter what. You have to be able to accept them, own them and move forward. I have a lot of little notes in my recipe books that help remind me of errors I've made in the past. Similarly, I journal frequently about what I could do differently at my job and how I could have handled something differently. There are lots of parallels!
What appeals to you most about baking?
I love baking because it is so functionally useless—no one needs to eat a cupcake or a piece of cake to survive. But we as humans can find incredible meaning and joy in things that don't help us survive and are pure excess, and I think that's super neat. Life is short, we're all gonna die, you should have a cupcake. I also love being able to share that joy with others by forcing them to try my latest bakes!
Why did you decide to be so open about your baking mishaps in your content?
I think there's something super powerful about being authentic and vulnerable on social media. It's mortifying to share the disasters I bake, but I think it helps remind folks that deep down we're all sort of bad at things and that's OK. I love when folks DM me and share their mess-ups. We're in this together!
Have you always enjoyed making people laugh?
SAM: As far back as I can remember, I've loved entertaining people and stealing the spotlight. I found myself in a lot of situations where I was the only guy around a lot of women. When I was six years old, I cheered on my sister's soccer team as the unofficial mascot. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin that randomly had a competitive jump rope team, and I was the only guy on it. I was always the odd one out and just wanted to make people laugh.
Watching my audience grow on social media has been wild, but imposter syndrome is real. There are plenty of days when I think no one cares and no one has actually laughed at anything I've ever said. On other days, I acknowledge that a lot of people enjoy the stuff I create and I'm blown away.
There's also a fundraising component to your videos. How did that come about?
SAM: Yes. I got a letter from a dear friend who reminded me that I have a platform and should do something more with it. That was a good reminder! I have an engaged audience of people who care about similar things, but I don't have a ton of money to donate on my own, which made me realize we could do some meaningful things together. I started doing live baking shows on Instagram, during which I'd donate to local organizations. I encouraged people to find their own local organizations to support, as well. It's a ton of work to do these kinds of videos, but it has been so cool to see what my audience has accomplished. Together we've supported Reclaim (helps queer and trans youth get access to mental health services), MN350 (helps Minnesotans prevent climate change) and local abortion and food shelters.
What's a day in the life of a nurse-baker-comedian really like?
SAM: I am a huge morning person, but not in any physically productive way. The whole "rise and grind" thing is not for me. I wake up at 5 a.m., not to go work out and seize the day, but to make coffee and sit in my house for two hours. I play video games—it's the best. I love the morning time; it's sacred. Then I go to work. I started doing CrossFit last April, so that's been incorporated into my day. I also have a Sibs Night once a week with two of my siblings, and I have a great community around me that I get to see.
How do you feel about being a representative for the LGBTQIA+ community?
SAM: Being gay is a core part of who I am, and it's something that I'm not ashamed of. I think what's so important is it used to be the thing I hated most about myself. It used to be what I thought would drive me to hell, where I'd be for eternity. The biggest shame of my life has now become something I celebrate, and other people get to celebrate too. The fact that the Uno Reverse card got played on that shame is so cool. It's very discouraging to hear what's going on with book bans and how trans people are being treated—sometimes I feel so helpless. There's just no easy answer, and that's so freaky. It's an honor to be an out and proud person amid all this nonsense.
You’ve said you’re passionate about making everyone in the room feeling welcomed and valued. Why is that important to you?
SAM: I moved to Minneapolis when I started high school, and on the first day of school, there was an assembly. I didn't know a single person in that room—what I needed more than anything was someone to just say hi and make me feel welcome. That moment has made me aware of people who are on the outs in any given situation. I just want to tell them, "I'm super glad you're here, and I think you're awesome." At the risk of sounding cliché, I hope a lot of my content conveys the value that queer people have and how much they matter, regardless of what they're being told by their church or parents. They are so incredible and so loved. I might not physically be in the room with them, but I hope they can feel that through my videos.