Comedian Wyatt Zieger demonstrates part of his comedy routine ahead of a competition in Edmonton. The 18-year-old Bumper-2-Bumper employee has been making a name for himself at comedy clubs in the city. – Stephen Dafoe photos
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Sitting at a table, coffee in hand, 18-year-old Wyatt Zieger looks like any other recent high school graduate. But as soon as he opens his mouth, one quickly realizes there is something a little theatrical about the man. The way he talks, the way he moves his hands, the slight smirk on his face and an underlying edginess are sure signs this guy has held a mic and done some comedy.
Zeiger picked up a mic and dropped his first punch line immediately after his 18th birthday last October. But the pursuit of comedy is not a recent thing. “It was always a bucket list kind of thing,” he said. “I was about 12 years old when I first knew I wanted to go up. I went up once after my 18th birthday and they told me to come back. I’ve been in love with it ever since.”
The stand up said the first experience was a nervous one but he made it through that right of passage every comedian must endure, ultimately getting an invite to return. “I was double fisting the mic to keep it straight,” he recalls. “I tried to get as comfortable as I could. I had a couple beers. I wore my crocs. I ended up going up fifth or sixth and they said I was one of the funnier people that night and asked me to come back.
Since that maiden comedic voyage, Zieger has been back about 20 times over the past six months, an impressive number for a comedian with a day job. Zieger said he usually performs Thursdays at Yuk Yuks at the Century Casino, Hit or Miss Mondays at the Comic Strip and will be entering a tournament at the World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas later this year in September.
But ahead of the American competition, Zieger has a competition closer to home. The young comedian is taking part in Edmonton’s Funniest Person With a Day Job, taking place at the Comic Strip West Edmonton Mall Apr. 22. Zieger said professional comedian Ryan Short told him he should sign up for the competition, a push that was well received by the young comedian.
Two jobs and a passion for laughs
The Morinville comedian currently has two day jobs. In addition to working for Bumper-2-Bumper, Zieger works for his stepfather and his brother at Darcy’s Transmission, located at the north end of 100 Street. Zieger said his comedy is generally well received by his coworkers. “All the younger guys love it,” he said of his fellow Bumper-2-Bumper employees. “The managers get a nice little kick out of it. They think I’m funny for the most part.” Zieger said his stepfather and brother also come to his shows and enjoy the act.
Zieger describes himself as a dirtier comic, one that does a lot of self-deprecating humour to balance out the act. “I do a lot of stories about my life and living in town and everything that goes on here,” he said. “I try to present to a younger crowd or whatever crowd is there. You’ve got to connect with them. So far I’ve had no complaints. A couple of Oilers jokes – got some angry fans on those ones.”
Though his act is his own, his material derived from his personal life and the lives of friends, Zieger is not without his comedic influences or a history of making people laugh. “I always liked being the class clown, ad my teachers seemed to enjoy it for the most part,” he said. “Most kids get kicked out for making a comment, and I’d always get the laugh from the teacher. It was always nice. It wasn’t until I was about 14 that I started following comics. My favourite comics today are Daniel Tosh, Louis C.K., Bill Burr. They’re raunchier comedians but they stay within their own lines. That’s what I try to model myself after.” Zieger said he also has admiration for John Candy and Russell Peters, earlier influences on his comedic path.
Hoping for more laughs to come
With a comedy competition or two ahead of him and plenty more opportunities to take to the stage, Zieger will continue to hone his art. He normally does a five- to seven-minute set, but he said he has done as long as 15 minutes at the mic. The comedian is hoping for longer sets and bigger and better things as that road winds before him. “As dirty a comic as I may be, I do do clean jokes as well,” he said. “I’m humbled by being able to go up there. It’s just something I’ve always loved. i love being able to make people laugh and it’s just my little passion. Everyone’s got to have that.” Zieger said he hopes one day to have an opportunity to appear on the Comedy Channel or perform a set at Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival.