Comedy Wham LIVE: Aaron Brooks Shares his Secrets

July 22, 2019

Photo Credit

An Indoor Lady

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin

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Ahead of the release of his debut full-length album, Secrets, land­ing July 30th from Sure Thing Records, it was our plea­sure to have Aaron Brooks back with Com­e­dy Wham for a Vol­ume 2 inter­view. And what bet­ter place to con­tin­ue our sto­ry, than where Brooks feels at home: the com­e­dy stage. (Thanks to Fall­out The­ater for sup­port­ing this event and pro­vid­ing said stage!) 

Peo­ple know Brooks best for his com­e­dy, and right­ly so, but I know a fel­low nerd when I meet one, and my intu­ition was con­firmed when he dropped a ref­er­ence to his mul­ti­ple Rick Mora­nis action fig­ures in his open­ing set. He also not­ed they were for sale, and it took a great deal of self-con­trol to not jump up and place a bid right then and there. I wish I could claim some super­nat­ur­al lev­el of clair­voy­ance, but truth be told, if you’ve seen Brook­s’s com­e­dy, or lis­tened to any of the 450 episodes of The Lanalax Cor­po­ra­tion with Brooks, Pat Dean, and a mas­sive coterie of guests, you already know of his pen­chant for pop cul­ture and things of a geeky nature. The cov­er for Secrets is itself a paean to nerd-dom, illus­trat­ed immac­u­late­ly by Alex­is Gard­ner in the style of a Choose Your Own Adven­ture book from the 80’s. It’s a per­fect com­pan­ion to both Brook­s’s per­son­al­i­ty, and a tip of the hat to Lanalax, which puts guests in a vir­tu­al adven­ture of their own. Every episode sum­ma­ry is the same: “[Host] asks [guest] a hypo­thet­i­cal”; that sim­ple line belies the almost infi­nite­ly cre­ative ways the hosts curate their guests in deal­ing with unex­pect­ed sit­u­a­tions, pos­ing their own solu­tions to try and save the day, or at the very least escape a grue­some death. With­out giv­ing exact num­bers, I can say that they fre­quent­ly do nei­ther, and the glee with which they meet their fates is one of the best parts of the pod­cast. We love it so much that we begged (we are not above it) Brooks to do a mini-sode at the live event, and it’s includ­ed in this episode. 

Secrets, illus­tra­tion by Alex­is Gard­ner
As on-the-nose as it might be to say, the album cov­er could­n’t be more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of this time of Brook­s’s life, as he has made a momen­tous choice of his own. He’ll be leav­ing Austin soon to start build­ing the next phase of his career in sun­ny Los Ange­les, and has been hard at work in prepa­ra­tion. In addi­tion to prepar­ing for Secrets, which was record­ed over two nights this year at Cap City Com­e­dy, he’s also spent the past two years work­ing on scripts and oth­er mate­r­i­al to broad­en his skillset and port­fo­lio. The dri­ve to dive into this process is part of the rea­son he’s decid­ed to move on from Austin. The well-earned name Brooks has built for him­self here has, he feels, begun to lull him into a bit of com­pla­cen­cy with regards to growth. With­out the pres­sure to com­pete for stage time, and with sev­er­al suc­cess­ful shows like Low and Inside and the now-end­ed Six Shoot­er, Brooks isn’t feel­ing the req­ui­site urgency that helps boost his out­put and tra­jec­to­ry. I know the feel­ing, as I’m a very dead­line-dri­ven per­son, and some­times things just don’t get done until the heat is on. [Ed note: He’s not kid­ding.] I have to make it myself…go where there are peo­ple that can impact my career,” Brooks says. And as for decid­ing between the two Coasts? It was the eas­i­est deci­sion. I’m not a New York guy. I’m a slow walk­er,” he laugh­ing­ly notes. Hav­ing made a sim­i­lar move before from St. Louis – at a sim­i­lar pro­fes­sion­al inflec­tion point – Brooks is in touch with what he needs to keep him mov­ing. The Austin com­e­dy scene will cer­tain­ly feel the loss, but he’s quick to point to Valerie Lopez and the audi­ence names and shows that he swears are the fun­ni­est in town. That includes his show col­leagues and friends like Mac Blake, Nick Saveri­no, and Ral­phie Hard­esty, and the pop­u­lar and long-run­ning PUNCH, run by Matt Bear­den, which was actu­al­ly where one of the two nights of his album tap­ing took place. Brooks notes how spoiled” we are with great com­e­dy in Austin, and prais­es Punch!–which runs every Tues­day at Cap City Com­e­dy – as some­thing espe­cial­ly unique. “[PUNCH] is like the best show in America…I’ve done com­e­dy all over the coun­try and there’s noth­ing like it,” he says, and after tap­ing the set that night, there was just this big feel­ing of like, okay, I did it…it was like a real­ly emo­tion­al thing.” I think that’s Brooks in a nut­shell: some­one who thrives in being open, whether in his com­e­dy, or his effu­sive praise for the peo­ple and insti­tu­tions sur­round­ing him. To see him take on this next phase, work­ing in long-form and new medi­ums, after see­ing what he can pull off in a short com­e­dy set, or extem­po­ra­ne­ous­ly in Lanalax, is exhil­a­rat­ing. For a man who excels at cap­tur­ing and telling the sto­ries from his life, we can’t wait to hear and see what comes next in the adven­tures of Aaron Brooks.

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Aaron Brooks

Valerie Lopez Richard Good­win Lara Smith Com­e­dy Wham

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