Q&A: Comedian Wonder Doug

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From the September 19, 2013 edition

Douglas Cuckler is better known as Wonder Doug, a rising standup comedian with a self-deprecating style where nothing is off-limits. Cuckler has seen his share of tough times, but he can laugh about it. Or at least make you laugh about it. And he finds catharsis through standup, calling it therapy.

This weekend Cuckler — a big comic book fan — and a number of other local comedians will take part in The Roast of Superman to coincide with Ohio Comic Con. The roast will feature a taking down of the Man of Steel by his super-friends. Yup, all the comics will be in super hero costumes/personas, but even non-comic geeks will find laughs aplenty.

Wonder Doug actually comes from when I was a DJ in the Goth industrial scene. I’ve been Wonder Doug for six years. When I started doing comedy enough white girls knew me as Wonder Doug, so I just kept it.

I’m pretty self-deprecating. I make fun of my own manic depression and alcoholism, anxiety and unrequited love. I also try to balance it with geek references, rants and obviously dirty jokes.

I feel like everyone is damaged goods and the world is kind of scary. So if I can distract people for a couple minutes that’s pretty awesome. I’m not going to go up there and talk about politics or abortion, race jokes or stuff like that. I’m the goofy guy talking about gay-marrying his cat. I just try to distract people from the crap.

My set depends on what type of mood I’m in. Sometimes I have darker sets. Sometimes it’s more absurd. Sometimes I just rant about pop music or ’80s cartoons. I started doing the ’80s-cartoons-made-me-gay stuff because — well, it’s fun to do — a lot of my dirtier jokes were isolating. Some straight guys would be like, “He’s funny, but …” So I wanted to throw in that nostalgia aspect. That’s why I added my pop music rants as well. I wanted to be more relatable.

I’m a big fan of Kyle Kinane’s writing and he’s kind of anxious, which I appreciate. I love Anthony Jeselnik’s writing; it’s very deadpan. Amy Schumer is awesome. I tell people I’m their love child sent back in time. They didn’t want to keep the baby, because it’s a baby. I feel like I’ve got [Kinane’s] darkness and [Schumer’s] slut-ness. I’m kind of weird.

I did a Pride Show at the [Short North Stage’s] Garden Theatre and I don’t think they knew what they were getting into. It was three other comedians and me. They were very stereotypical gay, and I was a doom cloud. I mentioned Kurt Cobain-ing myself at some point. The crowd liked me, but it was like, one of these things is not like the other.

I have 10,000 comics. A couple months ago I was talking with Chris Paugh, who’s throwing The Roast of Superman, [about] doing something during Comic Con weekend. He came up with The Roast of Superman. That’s genius. Almost everyone involved is super comic fans. We’re not going to be bulls---ing. But we’re also experienced enough doing comedy that it’s going to be a good balance.

I’ve done some roasts and been subject of a roast. With roasts you have to do it — obviously you’re going to say mean things, crude things — out of love and to people you respect. So it’s different than going up and telling d--- jokes.

We’re all going to be in costume, and I’m going to be Robin. Maybe it’s a Robin who spent some time in Arkham Asylum because he had to dress like that as a child. It’s going to be quite fun. I’m helping my friend Laura Work write some [because she’s] Wonder Woman. I love Wonder Woman — that’s where the Wonder Doug comes from. I was like, “You’re not going to f--- this up.” She’s really funny, just not as exposed to comics.

We have a Flash, a Batman and Eric Tait is going to be a concerned citizen of Metropolis who’s had three cars totaled by Superman fights. We have a Green Lantern. We have Animal Man just because, and Aquaman is a big hairy guy, Nick Glasser. I think Aquaman will be the punching bag; it’s between him and Wonder Woman. Although I feel like Robin’s going to get a good deal too. That’s fine. I’m almost always the punching bag, and then I just go on and obliterate everyone.

Photo by Meghan Ralston