The bitter reality of Donald Trump’s presidency, which for many Americans has been a literal nightmare unfolding in real time, is an object lesson for all of us on turning lemons into lemonade. One of the few real bright spots in this era has been the rise of comedian Trae Crowder, whose pointed commentaries on this juncture of disbelief have been a real delight. He headlines the WellRED Comedy Tour, hitting the stage at The Comedy Zone for four shows on Feb. 22 and 23. Crowder, 31, is joined by friends Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester, and the trio has developed one of the few truly fresh gimmicks in comedy today: They’re die-hard, old-fashioned Southern boys whose political tastes skew sharply leftward, emboldened and empowered by covfefe. They’ve written a book, aptly titled The Redneck Liberal Manifesto: Draggin’ Dixie Outta the Dark.
Crowder has nearly 80,000 followers on Twitter as of last count, and more than 175,000 subscribers on YouTube (including much of the Folio Weekly staff). Last year’s rant on transgender bathrooms has nearly a million views to date. Morgan Freeman recently singled him out for praise, randomly, and it’s not hard to see why. Crowder speaks with a palpable passion; it’s funny, but he’s dead serious at the same time. His visceral disgust at the current scene, and his willingness to risk all in calling it out, is really a beautiful thing, and it makes his videos essential viewing for anyone standing in opposition to the administration and its adjuncts. He exchanged emails with Folio
Folio Weekly: Where were you when you heard that Trump won? Did you ever think it would happen?
Trae Crowder: I was sitting with my wife at our old house outside of Knoxville, Tennessee (we’ve since moved to Los Angeles). We’d been sipping some wine, taking in the coverage, and after the news broke, our consumption went from sipping to “guzzling in terror.” We were both stunned, frankly. Because, even though I had publicly warned the left that we weren’t taking Trump seriously enough in the run-up to the election, at the end of the day, I didn’t think that our country would fuck things up that bad. I really didn’t. But here we are.
Do you think his victory may have been a win for your career?
I’ll say two things about this. First, I think it would be disingenuous for me to say that Trump winning hasn’t been advantageous for my career. It almost definitely has been. But the second thing: If I could snap my fingers and make him retroactively lose the election, I would still do it in a heartbeat. I got kids, man. Fuck these jokes; I don’t want the world to burn.
You’ve gotten a lot of attention for your videos. Of which one are you most proud?
Probably either the first one, just because of the fact that it literally changed my entire life overnight, OR the one from Dec. 11 about the Alabama Senate race between Roy Moore and Doug Jones. That one was different from any of the other ones I’ve ever done because it ended with a candid moment in front of a live audience. Basically. I asked a sold-out Birmingham crowd if Roy Moore spoke for them and their response was a resounding “NO,” followed by cheers of affirmation when I asked if they were gonna go the polls and show everybody.
The reason I’m very proud of it is because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked about being a “unicorn” or “the only one,” meaning a progressive Southerner. Most of the country doesn’t realize that not everyone in the South is a hateful, willfully ignorant zealot. I feel like that video was about demonstrating how untrue that is and then, of course, the following night, the state of Alabama came through and sent that message loud and clear. I damn near cried.
Have you ever considered running for office yourself at some point? What would it take?
Yes, once. A couple of weeks ago, hammered, with Corey Ryan Forrester, watching David Letterman interview Barack Obama. Corey cried and talked about how much he missed him, and I sat there thinking “I’m running, goddammit.” But, while sober? Nah, not really. Not any time soon, anyway. Working in entertainment is literally all I’ve ever wanted to do. Now that I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so, I’m going to just ride this train as far as it’ll take me. But I’m not going to rule it out, though.
Who do you see as the most likely challenger to Trump in 2020? What do you think they, and the nation in general, need to do to make sure that he’s one-term-and-out?
Oh, hell, I really have no idea. While I like both of ’em, I kinda hope it’s not either Biden nor Bernie, simply because there has to be SOME kind of upper limit on just how ancient we will allow someone to be and run this country. Having said that, I don’t know who’s going to emerge, but I know that the DNC better not fuck this up.