Friday, February 13, 2015

Brooks Wheelan's "This Is Cool, Right?"

I went in to Brooks Wheelan’s “This is Cool, Right?” rooting for him. As an avid viewer of “Saturday Night Live” I always felt bad for Wheelan, who joined the cast as a featured player at the same time as 64 other featured players and as a result kind of got lost in the shuffle. He was in and out before I got the chance to connect with him and when this CD released I was excited to finally have the chance to get to know him and his sense of humor.

To be honest, things get off to a fairly rocky start. He begins with a few bits about recording his CD and how he hopes it’s going well that are OK, but didn’t do much to really grab me. He’s trying really hard and putting his all into it, but his punches just weren’t landing the way I wished they would and I began to worry that we were in trouble. 

After about five minutes, however, things began to turn around. Wheelan has warmed up and pieces begin to fall into place. I eventually caught myself transitioning from smiles to chuckles to genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Once Wheelan finds his footing, it’s smooth sailing and nice laughs throughout the rest of his set.

Wheelan has a bit on being high and seeing a French-speaking baby that is fresh and fun and foreshadows the whimsical sense of humor that will be coming our way. His zeal is contagious and when he gets excited about driving into town to see the internet for the first time, we do too. It’s soooo much better than Oregon Trail and the wonderful mysteries of will soon be unlocked in all of their “for more information”-al glory.

At one point Wheelan reveals why he went into comedy (it had something to do with his dad’s possum-stained pants) and considering all of the outlandish experiences he’s gone through in life, there’s no way he couldn’t not talk about them eventually. Revenge on his brothers by contaminating their mouthwash, a man’s wet ponytail in his mouth, and the horrible, horrible, terrible butter incident that scarred his college years all serve as great fodder for his material and the way Wheelan reacts to each incident (usually with a dramatic “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!”) only enhances each circumstance and adds fuel to the funny.

The album ends with a piece on his abbreviated stint on SNL. Instead of going the route of tell-all gossip, Wheelan instead opts to share with us his ideas for sketches that never made it to air. Some of them are better than others but all of them are fun to hear pitched. 

Despite a few misfires at the outset, Wheelan has put together a project I feel more than comfortable recommending. The grind of being hired - and ultimately fired - from such a highly revered comedy institution could leave someone understandably bitter and jaded but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Wheelan. He’s taken all of life’s little hiccups in stride and used them to craft some wonderfully funny moments. “This is Cool, Right?” asks the title of the CD. I am happy to report the answer to his query is, “Yes, Brooks. Totally.”

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