TUESDAY, Oct. 13 — Comedian/writer Brooks Wheelan, probably best known for his recent stint on “Saturday Night Live,” brings his comedy tour to Lansing tomorrow.
Wheelan, 29, was a last minute addition to the show’s 2013-2014 season, joining the cast just weeks before the season premiere. His run on the show ended after just one season when his contract was not renewed.
"I'm totally honored to be able to make this next joke,” the comedian posted on Twitter. “Fired from New York it's Saturday night!"
The firing caught Wheelan off guard, but he found an outlet in comedy to help him deal with the disappointment.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was a bummer,” Wheelan said. “So I talked about it and made light of the situation. I’m not going to shy away from it. My job is to talk about my life. I think the best comedians are very vulnerable.”
After his departure from the show, Wheelan moved to Los Angeles to focus on screenwriting and standup comedy. By his account, post-“SNL” life has treated him pretty well.
“It’s been kind of great,” Wheelan said. “I just got engaged to a real cool lady. I shot a travel show in Europe — that was the most fun thing I’ve ever done. I recorded a half-hour special, and now I’m working on an hour special. That’s what the tour is about, getting this hour special to where it can be shot.”
Tonight, Wheelan kicks off a tour of the Midwest — he jokingly refers to it as his “Central America Tour” —with a stop at Pontiac’s Crofoot Ballroom. The tour hits the Loft in Lansing tomorrow, and then takes a zig-zagging route through the nation’s midsection, ending in Houston on Nov. 17. The choice to stop at the Loft and the Crofoot, two live music venues, is part of the tour’s design.
“I’m not doing any comedy clubs. It’s all rock venues,” Wheelan said. “I wanted to get out of comedy clubs, because that’s where our parents go. They’re great, and they’re stable, and it’s nice to do them, but I’d rather do a venue where nobody shows up on accident. With a comedy club, you might have some people who have a babysitter and they’re like, ‘Let’s go see comedy,’ and they come to your show. And then they might not like you — which is totally OK — but they just didn’t know what they were getting into. But with these small rock clubs, everybody who’s there, even if it’s not that many people, are there on purpose. You don’t just accidentally walk into that show. It makes for the best possible audience, because everybody’s on board.”
The tour will bring Wheelan, an Iowa native and graduate of the University of Iowa, back to his old stomping grounds. One might think that would make him more comfortable, but that’s not necessarily the case.
“When I’m in the Midwest, I’m always kind of afraid my parents will come in,” Wheelan said. “They’ll walk in the back like, ‘Surprise!’ and I’ll be like, ‘Oh shit, I didn’t know you guys were going to be here. Let me not tell some jokes that I was going to tell.’”
Being a writer and comedian was never a given for Wheelan, who pursued a safer career path in college.
“I’ve got a biomedical engineering degree. I was still a biomedical engineer until the day I got hired at ‘SNL,’” Wheelan said. “That was my day job in LA for four years. I never quit until I got the call and moved to New York. I never took the job very seriously. I worked at Papa John’s in high school, and I treated biomedical engineering with the same amount of no respect.”
City Pulse talked with Wheelan a few weeks before the show, and he was still brushing up on regional references to work into his act.
“You guys are good at football right now, right? That’s cool,” he said. “If you come to the show, just know I will probably mention Kid Rock a lot.”
With Matty Ryan and Mike Lasher
8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14
414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
(517) 913-0103, theloftlansing.com