By David Gavri
When comedian John Wessling was just 24 years old, he showcased his comedic talent in a comedy show where George Lopez and Carlos Mencia were both headlining. The crowd went wild for Lopez and Mencia. But for John Wessling, it was nothing but hate and anger, with a lot of booing. The crowd of 5,000 gave this opener no respect whatsoever. So what did John Wessling do about it? He did what John Wessling does best. He killed them with laughter. And he’s been killin’ it ever since.
This Houston-born comic is the founder of Houston Comedy Union. He’s also an ESPN Radio sports talk show host. And most importantly, he’s a husband, a father, and a brother of whiskey.
We got the chance to hang out with John Wessling as we kicked back and talked comedy.
Tell us about the first comedian you ever saw live.
When I was a kid, I saw Bill Cosby perform at the Astrodome at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. This happened only one time, and I was there. We came because we had George Strait tickets. Except George Strait wasn’t there that night. Instead it was Bill Cosby.
The Astrodome was not packed for this show. Just like an Astro’s day game. My dad wanted to leave, and people were booing. Even Bill Cosby expressed his awkwardness by saying, “I have never done comedy in a place where I can’t see any people…but I can see…animal feces!”
Later, Bill Cosby when on to call this “The Worst Performance Experience…EVER.” After the show, he fired all of his representatation and immediately flew home.
That was the one thing that motivated me the most to be a stand up comic. So I could have one of the worst shows in the history of mankind.
I was a sophomore in high school. I wasn’t supposed to be there, but I bullshitted the owner of the bar that I was much older than I really was. So I lucked into it.
But I ate shit so bad! I didn’t know what to do and I freaked out so bad that the feature act had to take over for me on stage. And after that, the owner kicked me out. He found out I was underage cuz my jokes were about being in high school, and locker rooms, and shit like that. So I had to leave the room in shame.
And I was hooked. I felt great. I felt like I robbed a bank! I didn’t know if I peed or if I came. I was shaking. I wanted a cigarette. I was freakin’ out!
And it was just pure fuckin’ shame. It was like my clothes were ripped off my body, freezing water was thrown on my tiny penis, and everyone I ever knew pointed at me and laughed. It was great.
You went on to win Houston’s Funniest Person Contest. What year was that?
1998. It was the second year I competed. I was a finalist in 1997.
Tell us about your contributions to the Whiskey Brothers.
The Whiskey Brothers have a long history. They started somewhere around ’97, ’98. They’ve had a number of cast members over the years. I am the newest member.
Before the Laff Stop closed down, the only show I ever did out there out there was The Whiskey Brothers Christmas Show 2009. After that I started doing more work with them. Recently we started our podcast, and we’ve now done over 118 episodes.
Tell us about the formation of the Houston Comedy Union.
I moved back to Houston from Los Angeles to do Sports Talk Radio. I was excited to move back right next to my home club, The Laff Stop. Except it ended up closing as soon as I got back in town.
After some time, it became Sherlock’s Pub. Me and a buncha the guys checked it out one night and thought, “Hey lets do comedy again right here.”
I try to keep doing my part to keep comedy alive so that all you guys can keep on coming out.
What advice do you have for the younger comics?
Quit. Go back to school. You’re not gunna make it. It’s not gunna happen for ya. You’re trying to be a professional lotto player. Someone wins every week, but it’s more than likely not gunna be you. Get a real job.
What is the worst advice that you have ever been given?
To quit. To go back to school, and to get a real job. [Laughs]
You’ve got a lot on your plate. How do you balance it all?
Drugs and alcohol. [Laughs] Na, the love and support of my family is the true and complete answer. My wife is my best friend. She puts up with alotta my crazy shit, and my borderline autistic, dumbass behavior. I love my daughters. They have changed my life.
Where do you see yourself in the near future?
Hmm…divorce, strung out with heart disease…I’ll weigh about 450 lbs and have one foot left from diabetes…or maybe a car accident, or a tragic fire.
Every night I have nightmares of being in a tragic plane crash with another comic who’s better than me in their career. Because when the news article comes out, it’s gunna say, “Comedian Sinbad Dies in a Plane Crash.”
And in tiny letters where no one can read, it’ll say, “Also appearing, John Wessling…”
Follow John Wessling on Twitter: @JohnWessling
You can find him at HCU open mic every Monday night at Sherlock’s Pub River Oaks.
Interviewed by Steven Padilla
Written by David Gavri