DAVENPORT -- To paraphrase the parable, Brooks Wheelan isn’t crying because it’s over — he’s smiling because it happened.
Wheelan, who was born in Manchester, Iowa, and raised in Dubuque, was one of a record eight featured players hired by “Saturday Night Live” last season — and one of three who were fired over the summer.
“I got fired, but I got to be on it. That’s crazy in itself,” Wheelan surmised in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “It would be crazy if I was truly mad, because I was lucky enough to be on it.”
Wheelan returns to his home state for four nights of standup comedy, including tonight in Des Moines, Thursday in Dubuque, Friday in Cedar Rapids and Saturday in Iowa City.
“I haven’t been in Iowa (besides) Christmas for about six years, so it’ll be nice to be there when it’s bearable,” he said. “I can walk outside and my eyes won’t freeze.”
Even baited by a reporter’s questions, Wheelan refuses to say anything bad about his time on “SNL.” His lack of screen time became a joke during one sketch, a parody of “Family Feud” that included guests Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, where Wheelan played himself, unrecognizable by the rest.
Wheelan said his peak moments were the two times when he got to be himself on the “Weekend Update” segment. Once he talked about tattoos (including showing his own) and in another he talked about how his roommates pranked him by placing a stick of butter in his crotch while he slept, leaving him to think he had a horrible disease when he woke up.
“That was my career goal,” he said of the “Update” appearances. “That’s why I wanted to go into comedy, because Adam Sandler would roll on (to the set) as Adam Sandler. That’s what made me fall in love with comedy. It was incredibly surreal, really fun.”
Wheelan said it was “shocking” to see how much work went into each week’s show.
“The workload was crazy, and it took me a little bit to catch my breath, but once we got to the end of the season I felt like I was really figuring the show out, getting a lot more sketches on,” he said. “I got to put some things out there that were my voice, that I wrote and I liked them. I’m super-proud of things that made it on the show.”
Since his July firing from the show, Wheelan has been touring with his standup, including an appearance last week on Conan O’Brien’s talk show.
“When I was on the show, I was locked into the show,” he said. “Now that I’m off the show I can do so many other things. I can do more standup, which is my thing anyway, I can be on ‘Conan.’ It opened up so many other opportunities, really.”
His “SNL” experience takes up about three or four minutes of his hour-long set, Wheelan said.
“I talk about my life, completely, on stage. And ‘Saturday Night Live’ was part of my life for a year,” he said. “But I also have material on the previous 27 years of my life. It’s there, but it’s maybe three or four minutes of the hour.”
Wheelan, who moved with his girlfriend from L.A. to New York when he got the “SNL” gig, will continue living there, he said. He’ll be looking for some acting roles and start writing a script for his own TV show, as well as continuing his standup.
“If you go to my comedy show you’ll see how I view the world as a 28-year-old dude from Iowa. Things that have happened to me, and my reaction,” he said. “Hopefully in a funny way.”