“Ben Wilke is an asshole.” People throughout history have said this and many societies have agreed. You may laugh at what he says on stage today but never forget that he is an asshole. You may think to yourself, “This guy is funny! We would totally get along.” You would be wrong. When was the last time you got along with an asshole like this? NEVER! Go ahead. Allow yourself to reap the benefits of Ben’s years of training at the Second City and Improv Olympic. Bask in the glory of his quick wit and ability to see things immediately for what they are. Just sit back, relax and allow his comedy styling’s to take you to a better place, where things are more purple and funny. But do not allow yourself to be charmed by this guy. He will disappoint you once he gets off that stage. Because like he said in his own bio…Ben Wilke is an asshole…and he’s our guest this week’s guest in 5 Questions.
FOH: What’s the comedy scene like in Michigan and who are your favorite comics to work with up there?
BW: It’s got two pretty distinct scenes Eastside and Westside. There are a lot of opportunities over on the Eastside more nights to go up in good rooms. But there is a group of guys on the Westside plugging it out. Which has really caused some great opportunities, and good “Rooms” to open up here on the Westside. Stu McCallister the House MC at Dr Grins and a touring Comic has fostered in one way or another most of the current Westside talent. Also the manager at Dr Grins (Lou Moratti) has started to manage a few of us which has really opened up some big doors they traditionally would have taken a long time to break down. Also Brian Borbot has started a room called “The Sunday Night Funnies” that has been a great workout room, and even tapes every performance and airs it on public access he has put a lot of time and effort into making it a comedian friendly room.
FOH: How did you first decide to get into standup comedy?
BW: Well I moved to Grand Rapids Michigan. I had done Improv and Sketch Comedy in Chicago for about 8 years, but when I left there and met my wife we moved to GR, and there was really no Improv scene as far as being able get right up on stage, with a community (That has Since Changed for the better.) So I knew I had to keep doing comedy and I had always admired my Stand up Friends in Chicago. I knew Stage presence would not be an issue so I just started writing out some of my stories, thoughts that had always mad people laugh. Then I approached Stu at Dr Grins about doing an open mic, he got me on the list and also informed me about an Open Mic that had just started and was being run by Brian B. Called Sunday night funnies. My first open mic didn’t go horrible and I have been doing it ever since.
FOH: What’s the best experience you’ve ever had on stage? And the worst?
BW: The best was probably a show me and some other comics put up ourselves at the Historic Wealthy Theater here in Grand Rapids called “Comics For Hire” wasn’t the biggest show I have done but I nailed my set and doing comedy with friends was great. We also had my video production company “Deep End Films” film it, it was a 5 camera shoot and it turned out really professional so its been great for my reel and my bookings. The worst was probably recently at the Sunday Night Funnies, A drunk heckler tried to pull me off the stage, I shoved him to the ground, and after that the place went nuts it was like a saloon in the old west people screaming and fighting…. Just nuts. The guy ended up running off and his wife spent the night in jail for fighting waitresses, the whole thing was taped ((http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqMm7X5tnQQ) Starts at about the 20 min. mark.)) I’m sure it will make me a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons….
FOH: Are you always constantly writing jokes or do you have a specific time of the day that you set aside just for writing?
BW: For me it’s more about thoughts I have that I think can be worked into a joke. I write them down right away wherever I am, I try and put a few punchlines or anecdotes in, and then I work them out on stage. It helps to have my improv background if its not going well I am pretty good at going right back into crowd work. For some of my alternative bits, I really try to work on them a lot before I bring them to the stage.
FOH: What’s next for Ben Wilke in the next twelve months?
BW: A bunch of little shows all over The Westside, 2 Guests spots at Dr Grins over the summer, and then my first professional feature paying spot there or anywhere in November, that’s gonna be very big for me!
Official Website: www.benwilke.com
Ben on Twitter: twitter.com/Benjamin_Wilke
Ben on Facebook: Facebook.com/benwilke
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