Detroit native and rising comedian Brad Wenzel is set to headline a house show in Louisville this Wednesday, September 19th which will be hosted by Laff Fest’s Dan Alten (go here for address & more details). Wenzel, who is known for his offbeat, one-liner comedy has made a name for himself appearing on Conan several times as well as opening for heavy hitting comedians like Brian Posehn, Kathleen Madigan, Gilbert Gottfried, Pete Holmes, and Patton Oswalt to name a few. In addition to working with these acts, Brad relentlessly tours comedy clubs across the country.
After listening to his hilarious new album Sweet Nothings (released on Jack White’s Third Man Records label) and watching a few youtube clips (like the one above), it’s easy to fall in love with Brad and his unique approach to comedy. To get a better handle on who he is and what he’s all about, I reached out for a quick interview. Thankfully, he kindly obliged…
Never Nervous: How long have you been at it as a comedian, and what made you want to get into comedy in the first place?
Brad Wenzel: I’ve been a comedian 8 years. I was a big comedy nerd growing up.
NN: You’ve got a very dry, but enduring delivery to your jokes. Where did this style come from? And who do you consider to be your biggest influences and inspirations?
BW: (I’m a tornado up there so I don’t know what you’re talking about). It developed over time. It’s just what feels natural. I was influenced by all the great one liner comedians: Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, Zach Galifianakis, Demetri Martin. Also Bob Newhart, Steve Martin, Gary Gulman, and Norm MacDonald.
NN: Ultimately, what is your goal as not only a comic, but an artist? Do you aspire to do any writing for TV or films? Or have you already?
BW: I think the ultimate goal would be to find my own audience. If people like what you do specifically, you have more creative freedom. I would also like to write. I co-wrote an animated pilot that I’m really proud of.
“If people like what you do specifically, you have more creative freedom.”
NN: I noticed that you’ve been on Conan a few times. What’s that like? And how different is the experience from a normal show?
BW: It’s really cool. I’m very lucky they have had me on there so much. It’s different than a normal show because there’s a thousand times more goodwill in the room. The audience is excited and rooting for you way more, but you’re also going out cold in the sense that they haven’t been listening to 20 minutes of other stand up material before you walk out, the way they would at a regular show. So it’s somehow easier and harder at the same time. It’s very exciting.
NN: I thought it was pretty cool that your album Sweet Nothings was released on Jack White’s Third Man Records label. How’d this happen? Not too many indie rock labels release comedy records, at least not that I’m aware of.
BW: Thank you. I did a show at the Third Man venue in Detroit and the guys who run that operation really liked it. They said we should do something together. I gave them the recording of that show off my phone, they passed that on to to the other people in charge, and they liked it too. It got back to me that Jack White liked a joke I do about gavels, which is really fun and bizarre to think about. I was already booked to record an album at a club later that year, but I didn’t have a label so it worked out great. I was in the right place at the right time. Third Man has done other comedy albums so I was really happy with how it all worked out. Since I started comedy in Detroit it felt very full circle to end up on a Detroit affiliated label.
“It got back to me that Jack White liked a joke I do about gavels, which is really fun and bizarre to think about.”
NN: Have you performed in Louisville before? And if so, was it a good show?
BW: Yes, I’ve featured and headlined the Laughing Derby. I also did a couple sets at Bard’s Tavern (that name is wrong for sure) while I was in town for those shows. Louisville is cool.
NN: I’m always fascinated with the way that comedians handle hecklers. Do you have any good stories about dealing with some asshole that won’t shut up?
BW: I like to just make them repeat what they said. That really takes the wind out of someone and highlights how lame their comment was. I usually just tell them to talk to a someone professionally and see what’s missing in their life that they act out in this way.
NN: Before you go, give us one good reason to come see you perform this Wednesday in Louisville.
BW: If you like jokes, I have a lot of good jokes. You can say you saw me before it was cool. It might never be cool, but technically you’ll still be able to say that.