Whether they be headliners in their own right, or just those setting new comedy standards in Columbus—from improv to stand-up to everything in between—(614) introduces a new series on the people handling the city with humor.
This month: “Wonder Doug” Cuckler, the sober sex shop worker and hardest-working man in Columbus comedy, self-effaced as a “dirty queer doom cloud.” In between running his five monthly shows and hawking his debut album Roller Coaster (iTunes, Spotify), he took time to answer (mostly) our 20 questions.
How did you first discover comedy?
I was a DJ and Promoter in the goth/industrial scene about 6-7 years ago. One night they had a roast for people in that scene and I was asked to be a part of it. I said some disgusting and shocking things that murdered. A few local comedians were on that show and suggested that I try out a few open mic comedy shows.
What was Wonder Doug like as a child? How would you stereotype your middle school self?
Like most young queer kids, I always felt like an outsider. We didn’t have social media to keep us so connected. To battle my depression and anxiety, I would lose myself in a daydream world of super heroes, horror movies, rock music, and boys that I had secret crushes on. Nothing has really changed.
What are the funniest things that happen at your job at The Garden/Chamber.
A guy met a girl online and had her drive him here on their first date. He stole a dildo and left her here. I guess it’s more sad than funny.
How does your day job affect your comedy?
In a way, they’ve become intertwined. They both involve gauging how comfortable someone is and finding a way to sell them happiness.
What’s the point of stand up comedy?
I think it’s different for everyone. For some people, it’s a humorous distraction from their daily problems. For others it’s a chance to relate and connect with others. Some use it as a way to hold up a mirror and try and show the world how beautiful and ugly it can be. Maybe it’s a combination of all of that and maybe I’m completely wrong and it means something different to you.
Who needs to laugh more?
Everyone. We are in some dark times.
What does the Columbus comedy scene need? Where do you see it going?
I think the Columbus Comedy scene is better than it’s ever been. There are so many strong and different voices and so many fun shows. Maybe it just needs a reminder to keep doing what it’s doing? Some shows go great, some go awful. There’s no exact blueprint for what we are doing. No matter what level we are at, we are all figuring it out as we go and learning. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work.
Dating a comedian—do or don’t?
If there is fire between you two, sure. Just keep in mind that when dating a performing artist, there are going to be many of nights where they spend hours in a bar just to perform for a few minutes. Also that there is a good chance that if you are a part of your life, you are a part of their art.
What is it like performing in bars while trying to stay sober?
When I quit drinking two years ago, I couldn’t really afford to quit my shows. I guess I could have found another job but I wasn’t ready to quit comedy altogether. So I remained around alcohol the entire time. Some nights now it will bother me when everyone around me is drinking, laughing and doing shots, but most nights I don’t even think about it all.
How has stand-up comedy changed you? For better? For worse?
It’s made me something different than I ever dreamed of. I always wanted to be a writer, but being a comedian was never something I considered. I’ve inspired some, alienated some, been recognized by strangers. It’s all so surreal.
How would you describe your personal style?
I try and tell jokes that are so personal, raw, and honest that no one else could tell them. I think I’ve definitely found my voice after all of these years. I know that my material isn’t for everyone, but there is a small group of people that appreciate my dark and dirty little doom cloud, and I am eternally grateful for that.
What’s it like to work at a sex shop?
People always assume that it is some big crazy freak show, but it’s not. Just the other day I helped an elderly lady going through chemo find the perfect wig. A few months ago I had helped a lady who had been sexually assaulted the year previous. She wanted to try and become comfortable again, to find a toy and a way to find pleasure again. I sell happiness and I help make people feel better about themselves. That is an amazing thing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Do you tell jokes during sex?
No. If I’m doing it right, my mouth should be busy during sex [laughs]. Although that would be a funny time to say “Stop me if you’ve heard this before,” or “I’ll leave you with this…”
How do you spend the holidays?
With a combination of real family and the makeshift gang of mutants that I call my friends.