A Laughing Matter at Firehouse

Firehouse Comedy Club brings standup to Sturgeon Bay

Sturgeon Bay comedian Asher Brooks can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t onstage.

As a young child, the Georgia native sang in choir and performed skits in Cub Scouts. When he was a bit older, he joined his high school’s drama club and acted in musicals. And in college, he performed in his first comedy show – more or less by accident.

Brooks had gone to the show with a date, intending just to watch, but when he found that it was an open mic and anyone could perform, he couldn’t help himself.

“I just got so excited,” Brooks said. “I forgot I was on a date and I spent the first 30 minutes of it just furiously writing jokes in a little notebook.” 

Nowadays, his shows require more forethought than a half-hour of scrambling. As the founder of Firehouse Comedy Club, it’s Brooks’ job to enlist comics for monthly performances at the Door County Fire Company in Sturgeon Bay. 

Though the comedy club’s first few performances last summer were open mic-style shows, headliner shows are its mainstay now. The club has previously featured comedians Kristin Lytie, Ka$h Money Karl, Rooster Huff, Charles Andrews II, Stephanie Ann and John Frietag, and at this month’s show, John Egan and Jeremy Rosenfeld will take the stage. 

In addition to pulling things together behind-the-scenes, Brooks performs his own material at Firehouse Comedy Club shows. Though that first impromptu standup set went well, writing out full scripts makes it easier for Brooks to remember everything, plan out puns and make callbacks to earlier jokes. So he writes out his material and color-codes it, putting his punchlines in red. If he doesn’t see enough red scrolling through his script, he rewrites the set, trying to incorporate at least three jokes a minute to keep his audiences entertained.

That technique seems to work. Between Brooks and the other comedians he has brought in, the emerging comedy club has been drawing in sizable crowds; an audience of around 75 people attended last month’s event. The cheap cover charge – $5 per person – and the timing of events on weeknights rather than weekends seem to help bring people in too, Brooks said.

When Brooks isn’t running the comedy club, he’s performing solo shows to audiences around the state (including the “saddest and drunkest” crowd he’d ever performed to in a rural area on Valentine’s Day). And when he’s not doing that, he’s working his day job at Door County Trolley, which was what brought him to the peninsula in the first place.

Brooks had been acting professionally before COVID-19 hit, but like many people, he decided to switch tracks during the pandemic. He landed a job at Door County Trolley via job-search website Users can upload their resumes to the site, then just press a button to apply to certain jobsa feature Brooks put to good use.

“Everything that had that one-click-apply button got applied to,” Brooks said. “I was applying to jobs halfway across the world because all it took was one click.”

When he got a call from a Wisconsin number after sending out a slew of resumes, he picked up and was quick to accept a job at Door County Trolley. There, he could put to use his experience guiding tours, a unique skill set he’d gained running a ghost-tour company in college.

After Brooks moved from Georgia to Door County, the Firehouse Comedy Club was born of necessity. The nearest comedy club to the peninsula is in Appleton, so if he didn’t start one of his own, Brooks would have to drive 90 minutes both ways to meet and perform with other comedians. He still visits the Appleton club sometimes, with an eye out for talent he could bring back home, but having a comedy club in his own backyard makes regular involvement much more manageable.

Even after a lifetime of performing, the enjoyment of being onstage hasn’t lessened for Brooks. The stage is his second home, providing a sense of comfort that’s quite the opposite of what many people would feel under the spotlight.

“I’ve performed so much that when I get into the space, I’m nervous until the lights come on,” Brooks said. “Then I’m like, ‘Oh, thank God, it’s time to perform. Now I can relax.’”

Firehouse Comedy Club’s next show will be on April 30. Their next two will also be on the last Tuesday of the month – May 28 and June 25. Doors open at 6 pm and the show starts at 7 pm. The cover charge is $5. Tickets can be reserved at Dinner and drinks will be available for purchase during the ninety-minute show.

Door County Fire Company is located at 38 S. 3rd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay.