Interview: Brooks Wheelan

Interview: Brooks Wheelan

Monday, 16 July 2018

I don’t know if Brooks Wheelan will ever shake his time on SNL, but I for one am glad his appearance on the show put him on my radar. Since leaving, Wheelan has been responsible for some of the best stand up shows I’ve seen. His departure from the show helped him focus on his album This is Cool, Right? which is simply a phenomenal debut. As solid as that album was, Wheelan has continued to focus on his stand-up and devloping his own voice over the years. Also, a nicer guy you’ll never meet.

We caught up with him at one of his highlighting dates at Laugh Boston and asked him questions because that’s apparently what we do with comedians on this site now.

Last time I saw you in Boston was at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. That’s a punk rock music venue with probably a crowd that it more familiar with your type of comedy. This time you were at Laugh Boston which strictly caters to stand-up and comedy and has a very different kind of vibe. You said that this crowd was more the kind that you have to win over. Talk a little about playing such a different venue this time around.

First of all I just wanna say I like both those venues a lot. The Middle East show was just easier for me as a comic because it was everyone packed into a single show in a small music venue versus Laugh Boston was 3 shows spread out in a much larger venue. The main difference is that everyone at that Middle East show was pretty similar in the fact they like seeking out weird comedy shows in non comedy venues and the shows at Laugh Boston were filled with people who enjoy comedy and might not necessary know my act. So I just have to work a little harder to prove myself at those shows. Honestly the Laugh Boston shows are the ones that make you a better comedian because you’re not just playing directly to your own audience. They really make you grow up.

I’m surprised by how little political stuff there was on your set. Is that comedy you actively avoid or are still trying to get better at?

This is tricky. I recently dropped a huge chunk of political stuff when I’m playing broader comedy clubs. If I was doing the Middle East I would have talked a lot more about me and my family not agreeing on politics because I assume 99% of that crowd is liberal like myself. But when I do a “comedy club” you never really know. I do the political stuff up top and I realized I was alienating around half the crowd pretty early into my set. I had to honestly think about it and I decided I shouldn’t be dividing those audiences. These people worked hard all fucking week and paid money to come, laugh, and get away from all the world’s bullshit for 90 minutes, it felt selfish to just serve my own agenda.

I loved your last album This is Cool, Right? You seem to be on the road a lot lately. Are you working on a new special or album?

Yeah I think it’s ready. I want to record a special because a lot of my new stuff is acted out. Most of all I want to get this new stuff I love out there for everyone to see.

My first exposure to you was on SNL, which you said you said you were fired from. Is that something you were relieved by when it happened or was it unexpected?

It was pretty unexpected on my end, but looking back I must have been naive. I was bummed but that sadness is what drove me to make “This is Cool, Right?” which i think is the best thing I’ve done comedically to date. Much better than anything I was doing on the show.

Speaking of SNL, it’s a show that’s notoriously hard to get tickets for. Now that you’re an alum of sorts, does that make it easier for you to get in if you ever want to check out a taping of the show when you’re in New York? Nothing like going back to your old job to check in on how everyone’s doing.

I’m in no hurry to go back to a taping. If I’m in New York and they have a show I’ll swing by the after party and drink some beers with my old friends, but that’s about it.

Do you still watch the show?

No. It’s kinda like an ex girlfriend. You know she’s out there, you just don’t really need to know what she’s up to.

Since we’re a music site and I know you like (Sandy) Alex G, I have to ask: what music have you been listening to lately?

I got into Songs: Ohia

Finally, what did you think of the Mapparium?

Mapparium ruled, was just bummed they wouldn’t let me take pictures of it.

Brooks is out playing dates. Check them out here. 


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