Quite a bit has changed for Brooks Wheelan since being let go from Saturday Night Live last summer. He has released his first stand-up album “This is Cool, Right?” to great reviews, he has appeared on a variety of late night interviews and the HBO hit Girls, and is currently headlining his own tour.
Wheelan is more than just a cool dude with a pretty face; he graduated from the University of Iowa with a biomedical engineering degree. While most of his comedy peers bartended or waited tables while trying to break into the LA comedy scene, he worked a full time job testing heart valves.
Wheelan is in town headlining the Comedy Nest this weekend (April 30th – May 2nd) and we chatted with him to see what life has been like since he infamously tweeted “FIRED FROM NEW YORK IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!”.
The Main: Have you ever been to Montreal before?
Brooks Wheelan: Yeah, I‘ve performed at the [Just for Laughs] Fest twice. Actually, it’s pretty much the reason I got on SNL. Seth Meyers spotted me there.
TM: Cool, we’ll take the credit for that! How has the return to solo stand-up been after a year of the communal creative process that SNL seems to be?
BW: Well, I loved SNL, but I was doing stand-up for seven years before I got there. It’s nice to get back to that, you know. Personal writing is so different than sketch comedy. You’re in charge of yourself. I get to tour wherever I want. You don’t have other people dictating what you have to do and I love to travel and going to check out cool places outside the city that I’m performing in.
TM: Are you planning on going anywhere outside of Montreal?
BW: Yeah, I’m renting a car. Probably going to look around Quebec City one day.
TM: Your style of comedy is very much storytelling as opposed to short one-liners à la Mitch Hedberg. Do you think that’s where comedy is heading?
BW: Well, I think my style is very personal. I just want it to be like you’re listening to a guy who happens to be on stage in the same way that you would if he was off stage. I don’t think the punch line style will ever die though. There are still comics who do it. Maybe if I was better at it I would do it.
TM: I saw your recent cameo on one of the episodes Girls that was set in Iowa. Between that and your material, it seems being an Iowan is a big part of who you are.
BW: Well, I talk a lot about my childhood experience and growing up in rural Iowa is a big part of that. A lot of comics talk about their childhood I think. Anyone from any background can talk about their upbringing and make it funny.
TM: How did you end up playing the Iowan on Girls?
BW: Well, I became friends with Lena Dunham when she hosted SNL and she said I should come do the show sometimes. She knew I was from Iowa so when she asked I was like “Yeah, that would be great.”
TM: Are you interested in TV roles or do you feel most comfortable on stage?
BW: I mean, I would love to do both. Comedy is my thing, but I would definitely do TV also.
TM: Do you consider yourself a writer as well? Have you written any pilots?
BW: Yeah, I was actually writing for SNL before I was cast by Lorne [Michaels] to actually be on the show. I’ve written a couple of pilots, but none have taken off.
TM: How did you initially get into comedy?
BW: I started freshman year of college. I was always obsessed with Adam Sandler. I thought he was the funniest guy and I saw him on SNL. He did stand-up and I wanted to do it too.
TM: Who do you think is the funniest comedian alive right now?
BW: There are so many, but Bill Burr is pretty great.
TM: I feel like he’s underrated. He doesn’t get enough credit.
BW: Really? People know how good he is in the comedy world.
You can buy tickets to Brooks Wheelan’s show here and also follow him on twitter @BrooksWheelan.
In other comedy news, keep your eyes open next week as Just For Laughs is announcing the line up for their summer festival of which Bill Burr is already confirmed.