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 David Garrick
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Two Very Enthusiastic People: Five Questions with Brooks Wheelan

Two Very Enthusiastic People: Five Questions with Brooks Wheelan
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Leon casino, Photo: Filmmagic

When you look at the coupling of insanely talented people who’ve been tapped to either be a writer or a cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” you realize real quick that it’s a big list.  A show that we’ve all grown up watching, even the list of those who’ve been fired from the show is impressive.  One of those names, is comedian Brooks Wheelan.  As a cast member for one year at SNL, Wheelan did impressions of Jared Leto and Kid Rock, while retelling cautionary tales on the show’s Weekend Update segment.  What most people don’t know, is that Wheelan was already a strong stand-up comic, as well as a contributor for College Humor; and a biomedical engineer.  On January 24th and 25th, he’ll be in Houston at the Come And Take It Comedy Festival alongside another comic fired from SNL, Norm Macdonald.  Free Press caught up with the Iowa native to pick his brain about where he’s been, what he has coming up, and what he plans to do here in Houston.


FPH:  You’re from Iowa, is that one of those states where no one claps when you say, “I’m from Iowa,” ?


BW:  Not really actually. People who are from Iowa love being from Iowa so if any of them are in the crowd they clap a shit ton. I talked about being from Iowa during a set I did on Conan and there were two VERY enthusiastic people reacting positively. It kinda threw off the joke for a second.


FPH:  You’ve been doing stand-up for eight years, is there a Brooks Wheelan album in the works?


BW:  Yep, it comes out January 27th and it’s called “this is cool, right?” You should check it out. I’m really proud of it.


FPH:  You were recently let go from SNL, and it seems like there were a lot of press outlets who covered it.  Do you think that’s because you were so light hearted about it or because everyone was looking for dirt on Lorne and the show?


BW:  People just like to talk about that show. It’s something we all grew up with.


FPH:  Speaking of that, you’re now a part of two distinguished lists, those who wrote for SNL like Conan and Robert Smigel, and those who were fired like Norm Macdonald and Jay Mohr; how has just being a part of all that helped you in stand-up?


BW:  The best part of being on that show is that now people are interested in seeing my stand up, which is the thing that I really love. SNL gave me exposure, and it’s up to me to use that exposure to show everyone that I’m funny. Hopefully I’m doing that.


FPH:  How does someone go from a degree in biomedical engineering, to the upright citizens, to stand-up, to SNL?  Is this a path you can explain to the audience in Houston, or do you have a different plan entirely?


BW:  Well everything all happened at the same time. I started doing stand up when I was going to school for biomedical engineering and instead of dropping out of school, I used my degree to get a job in LA and just kept that job while doing comedy every night.

Really it’s kind of what my album is about. On the record I start with like 10 minutes of jokes then I get into being young and realizing I had to do stand up and then go all the way up to being fired from Saturday Night Live. It’s a really autobiographical album. I talk about being an engineer for four years and going to college and never being cool growing up. Since that’s all on my album, I have stopped doing it and moved on to work on the next one.


Doing all new material is pretty amazing coming from a guy as funny as Wheelan.  You can catch him along with the likes of Maria Bamford, Norm Macdonald, Todd Barry and pretty much every heavy hitting Houston comic at Warehouse Live January 24th and 25th.  Tickets for the two day event range between $55.00 and $99.00 and are available here.   It’s one of those shows that you’ll really hate yourself if you miss out on.