Trae Crowder Interview: A Liberal Redneck Talking About Fancy Folk
Image attributed to Trae Crowder
Growing up in Celina, Tennessee, Trae Crowder, also known as the Liberal Redneck, got his start in stand-up comedy following an open mic night at Side Splitters Comedy Club in Knoxville. His trademark videos have garnered national attention, controversy and cumulative views in the millions on YouTube, and the content includes everything from religion to gun control to politics before, during and after the Donald Trump era and everything in between.
In 2016, Crowder, along with comedy pals Corey Ryan Forrester and Drew Morgan, authored The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin’ Dixie Outta the Dark. The trio have been performing stand-up comedy in venues across the country for several years. Also fans can enjoy these very funny guys via WellRed podcast on Apple Podcasts and on their website. Crowder and Mark Agee are the hosts of Weekly Skews, and the newest “fancy stuff” podcast is called Puttin’ on Airs, which stars Crowder and Forrester, and a new episode can be viewed every Friday wherever you get your podcasts. Crowder currently lives in Burbank, California, with his wife, Katie Crowder, and their two sons.
"I try to cover the overlap between fancy people and trash people, as I call my own people, trash trailer people or whatever."
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Trae, are you touring solo these days?
Trae Crowder: Yeah, for now. But it’s not like … me, Corey and Drew didn’t break up or nothing. We’ll have group shows again. We’ve already booked some. But I will also do solo shows continuously, too. It’ll be a mixture of both. But for this summer, I’ve been on my own.
The impetus for it was that Corey decided that he wanted to take the summer off from touring, which obviously is fine. That’s his prerogative. But I didn’t want to do that, and I felt like it just made more sense for us to each do our own thing than for it to be the WellRed tour except Corey’s not here though, you know what I mean? It just made sense to me to just do it on my own. I wanted to do more time and everything anyway. So, yeah.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You’ve been performing in comedy clubs for several years. Do you ever suffer from stage fright?
Trae Crowder: I wouldn’t call it stage fright. But, I mean, so the way most people do it, like in detail behind the curtain on stand-up comedy process, we want to get here, but basically, me, Corey and Drew filmed half-hours. We filmed half-hour sets in December, and they’ll be coming out hopefully soon. We’re trying to get the paperwork in order or whatever. So that meant that I had to come up with a whole new set, and I was going on the road solo, so I was doing an hour.
I had to write a new hour of material, starting from nothing. So those first few shows, I had Corey and Drew with me doing a full hour. It’s all brand new. I definitely had nerves, for sure. I wouldn’t call it stage fright. But I’ll still get nervous depending on the circumstances, but once I get the hour of material done, polished and everything and it’s ready, then I won’t feel any nerves at all before a show. But I’m definitely not immune to it. So it just depends.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I’ve enjoyed the newest podcast called Puttin’ on Airs.
Trae Crowder: Thanks (laughs). Yeah, me and Corey. We just wanted to do something not politics related necessarily and just something silly and fun. So we’ve been having fun with that.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: How do you choose the topics for Puttin’ on Airs?
Trae Crowder: Well, for anybody that doesn’t know the show, it’s me and Corey Forrester, two hillbillies talking about fancy people stuff. In my segment on there, I try to cover the overlap between fancy people and trash people, as I call my own people, trash trailer people or whatever. So for me, it’s just trying to rack my brain and think of what those are. But I realize there’s actually a whole lot of them, and a lot of them are just things that all people have in common. But I’ll cover the differences between fancy people and trash people where drugs are concerned or going to rehab or having somebody else raise your kids, whether it’s a nanny or Mamaw, like that type of thing.
Since we started the show, I get suggestions from people for mine, which helps because I’ve been saying for a while that I’m going to run out of those eventually (laughs). Then I’ll probably just cover general fancy people topics that I can come up with. Corey likes history, like he’ll cover King Henry VIII or the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, something that had to do with fancy people in the past. I don’t know how he chooses what he’s going to talk about. I guess he just looks around, and he lands on something. He’ll talk about Casanova one week and something else the next.
We’re just kind of flying by the seat of our pants, honestly, right now (laughs). It’s not too formalized. The process for picking topics is not too formalized. But we do try and do some actual research on what we’re actually going to be talking about.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I did see the episode on Franz Ferdinand where the first assassination attempt had gone awry (laughs).
Trae Crowder: Yeah. It’s funny to me that we try to stress to people not to watch that show to learn. We tell them to just watch it to laugh at us trying to get our heads around these things (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Well, I did learn from another episode that Hollywood does not actually hire rednecks to play redneck roles (laughs).
Trae Crowder: I mean, there are some redneck actors who are real southern actors. We’re friends with some of them. W. Earl Brown is a tremendous character actor from Murray, Kentucky. He’s a friend of ours. He’s in Deadwood and There’s Something About Mary and all kinds of things. He gets roles like that because he’s very talented. It’s not that they refuse to hire people from the South.
I feel like the majority of the time, if you see someone in a movie doing a southern accent, usually doing one poorly, they’re actually a classically trained Shakespearean actor from England, which I just think is funny. I’m not trying to take any soapbox stance on it. I just think it’s humorous to point that out in an era where representation in Hollywood is this huge thing where you can’t hire a straight actor to play a gay character. That’s a huge deal out there, and that’s fine. I just think it’s humorous to point out that all the rednecks are played by fucking posh British people.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: (laughs) I did not realize that had recently changed in the entertainment industry.
Trae Crowder: Yeah. It’s just recently become a big deal. I mean, a week or two ago, there was a bunch of headlines about James Franco being cast as Fidel Castro in a movie, and a lot of people were outraged because they were like, “He’s a white guy, and he shouldn’t be playing a Latin American.” I didn’t know this, but evidently it’s true that Fidel Castro was white. He’s of Spanish descent. So if Fidel Castro’s actually a white guy, I guess it’s fine that James Franco is playing him. I don’t care either way. I’m just saying it’s definitely a thing. It’s a thing in Hollywood that people care about right now except when it comes to hillbilly roles. No one cares about that (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: (laughs) Most people are under the misconception that there are just Democrats in Hollywood, which isn’t true at all. Your political beliefs are right out there in the open, and you call yourself the Liberal Redneck. Have you ever been snubbed for a role or a job you wanted because of your politics?
Trae Crowder: This is all speculation. Normally, when you get told no for something, they don’t tell you why. They just tell you, “No.” And I’ve been told no a bunch. So I don’t know this to be true. But I think that it’s both. I think it’s a double-edged sword for me. I think that my politics are the thing that makes me noteworthy in the first place, and it’s the only reason that I even have a presence in Hollywood or get into pitch meetings or anything like that.
But I have wondered if people get gun-shy at the end of the day about it, like it just would be easier to have somebody who’s not controversial, you know what I mean? Because if they did make one of the shows I’m trying to make there, would people be complaining about it before it even aired just because of who I am and my politics? That may not factor into it at all for them. But I’ve wondered if maybe it did. I don’t have any actual concrete evidence of that happening. So it’s hard for me to say.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Your video about the FBI searching Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for classified documents was right on target. John Bolton and other Trump staffers have said that the former president had a penchant for hoarding documents.
Trae Crowder: Yeah. Another thing John Bolton said about it was that Trump did it but that also he just did it because he thought it was cool (laughs). He said Trump likes cool things, and he thinks it is cool to have nuclear codes in your house, so he’d just take them. I remember the exact line from Bolton was, “You know, some days, he’d eat a whole bunch of French fries. Other days, he’d steal classified documents.” (laughs) I thought it was truly hilarious, such a thing to be said in complete sincerity about the former president. But there are no shortages of those things where Donald Trump is concerned.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: One of Trump’s attorneys also said that the storage room where the documents were found is off an interior hallway near the pool. Sounds like an extremely secure location (laughs).
Trae Crowder: Yeah. That checks out, like the pool boy’s in charge of it or something (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Some of the January 6 committee members have accused Trump of dereliction of duty for failing to act to stop the violence at the Capitol, his home is searched by the FBI, and the word espionage is used. The New York Attorney General is still investigating his dealings as a real estate mogul. In reality, though, do you think Donald Trump will ever see prison time?
Trae Crowder: I definitely don’t. I’ve always said from the very beginning that I don’t, for one second, believe that Trump’s going to go to prison. I see other liberals talking about it, and he’s in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. I think you need to put that out of your mind. Nothing about this country’s history, especially recent history, should lead anyone to believe that something like that is ever going to happen. That don’t happen in America.
That’s just not a thing that happens, especially to a super rich, powerful, well-connected guy like that no matter how reviled he may be. I hope they find a way to give him some form of repercussions. I would not have thought that the FBI getting a warrant and searching his property would have happened either, and it did. But I’ll be very, very shocked if he goes to jail or anything.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Perhaps repercussions that would keep him out of politics?
Trae Crowder: I don’t know how that would work or what needs to happen. But the people in charge of all these investigations should have that as their primary aim. It’s like, “Let’s find a way to stick him with something so that he can’t run again.” For me, I’m good with that. Would it be great if he went to jail? Sure. Of course, it would. But if just that happened, that would be good enough for me. Just keep him out of politics, and we don’t ever have to talk about him again, as far as I’m concerned, after that point.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Didn’t you support Andrew Yang in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries?
Trae Crowder: So I was never going to vote for Andrew Yang. Early on, when he first came out, I thought he had some good ideas in the UBI (universal basic income) thing. He was the only person really talking about it initially, and I thought that was important. I met him, interviewed him and hung out with him. I thought he was a really sharp guy, a very nice guy and a very personable guy. I still think all that, but I don’t really know what he’s doing lately. I don’t mean I haven’t been following him. I mean, I really don’t know what all that’s about. That’s what I mean. Like, what he’s been up to lately. I’m not just going to trash him because I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with him, and I do generally like Andrew Yang, but I don’t know what he’s on about recently.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: That’s the reason I brought him up. He’s forming the Forward Party.
Trae Crowder: Yeah. Right. I don’t know what he thinks is going to happen with that and what the purpose of that is really supposed to be. I think I know what he would say, “The two party system is bogus,” which I don’t disagree with, but it’s just the reality that we’re all living in right now. I just don’t think now is the time to traffic all that third party fantastical talk.
It is a two-party system. There are two parties. One of them, in my opinion, is a nigh existential threat. So all the resources need to be focused on doing the best we can to hold them at bay, as far as I’m concerned, not try to overhaul the whole thing right now. Save that for better days, if it’s up to me.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I’m beginning to call social media “antisocial” media (to include YouTube) because of all the attacks on content creators and people in the public eye. What are your views on that subject?
Trae Crowder: I think a lot of people have figured this out about me. I’m sure a lot of people don’t like it, but it’s just the way it is. I mostly adhere to a practice that apparently is called “post and ghost” (laughs). I try not to read much of it. The reason for that is because early on when I first went viral and got a following in the first place, it was for these Liberal Redneck videos. I was reading everything, reading every comment, every DM, and I was trying to respond to them. But like, first of all, that would not have been feasible to keep up with because I just got so many. But also sprinkled in there from the very beginning were extremely hateful and nasty comments or messages like death threats, people threatening to rape my wife and stuff like that.
I didn’t live in fear because I mostly just shrugged them off. But that kind of thing affects me. I’ll get real mad about it. I want to send them a message back saying, “Listen here, motherfucker …” But I don’t. But I want to, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I could read 100 comments, and 99 of them are glowing, and I appreciate those. I do. But then I read that one that’s something like that, it just runs all over me, and I can’t get over it.
So eventually, I just had to top reading them for the most part. And that’s been my practice for a long time now. Sometimes, my wife or my sister or Corey will send me a screenshot of a comment they say that they think I need to see. But I mostly don’t read them just for mental health reasons, which is kind of like letting the trolls win maybe, but I don’t know. So I’m pretty immune to it for the most part because I just don’t participate in it. But the reason I don’t is because of the ugly experiences I had with it in the first place. I mean, it’s brutal, for sure. People get nasty for no good reason.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Exactly, and I really don’t see the situation getting better. All of social media just may end one day.
Trae Crowder: I know this is going to end eventually. Even if I get messages like that all the time from trolls, and I still do, I mostly avoid their brigading onslaughts that they’ll do. I had a buddy, Pete Dominick. He’s a comedian who has a Sirius satellite radio show where he talks about politics and stuff, and he’s left-leaning. I don’t remember what happened. It had something to do with QAnon. He had some jokes about QAnon Jason or something like that, so he became a target for the QAnon parts of the internet.
They started just harassing him incessantly on every social media page he had and every facet of his online presence. They were calling him a pedophile and just making stuff up and trolling him but trolling him en masse, and like I said, incessantly. That would be very annoying, and I’m just waiting on my turn with that eventually. But I’ll just ignore them like I ignore the rest of them and presumably, they’ll eventually go away. But I’m sure that’s coming at some point.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I truly hope not. Trae, do you get a chance to go back and visit family and friends in Tennessee?
Trae Crowder: My wife is also from rural Tennessee. Culturally, it’s the same town, but they’re on different ends of the state with Nashville in the middle of them. Our two kids are nine and 10, so we go back at least once a year pretty much usually around the holidays, and that’ll probably be the case this year too because I do the weekend before Christmas every year at Zanies in Nashville. Those are my favorite shows all year. I love doing it.
So usually, my wife and kids will travel with me to Nashville. They’ll go to her Mom’s house, I’ll do my shows, and then I’ll go meet them. After that, we’ll go to my hometown for a little while and then come back. So we’ll spend a couple of weeks there around Christmastime usually.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Do you have childhood friends who are Trump supporters or Republicans who you’ve lost because of your political beliefs?
Trae Crowder: I mean, and this is sad. I’ve got a good group of buddies that I grew up with who I’m still in touch with and play fancy football league with and stuff. They’re either apolitical or they’re liberal like me. But I’ve got some buddies who I was tight with pretty much my whole life. It’s not like they came out and said, “You know what? I’m done with you,” over all this stuff in my career.
But we just lost touch, and I do think that’s part of it. There are three of them, in particular, who I just never talk to anymore, and I think that’s probably why because before all this started, it wasn’t like that. But most of my friends from growing up are still good friends of mine, and the politics is not a problem for us.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: What’s the status of the Covid and Monkeypox cases in Los Angeles?
Trae Crowder: I’m not going to lie. With Monkeypox, I’ve been trying to bury my head in the sand, pretend it’s not a thing and hope it’ll go away because I just don’t know if I can handle another plague right now. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be. It doesn’t matter if I can handle it or if anybody else can handle it. So I guess I need to get more on top of it.
Recently, it felt like almost everyone I knew had Covid, anecdotally, right? That includes my wife and kids. I’d actually had it a couple of months prior, and I was totally fine. I was almost asymptomatic, thankfully. But my wife and kids had it, Corey had it, both my producers on my podcasts had it. The wife of Mark (from Skews) had it. It was all at the same time. I was like, “Man!” But yet I wasn’t seeing any headlines or trending topics or discussion about it, and I just felt like it seems pretty much everybody just kind of tacitly agreed to act like it’s over even though it’s not. I get it. There’s a threshold for how much shit you can continue caring about, I guess.
But, yeah. It seemed like it was all over the place this summer for me, but yet, nobody was talking about it. Everybody had just reached an agreement like, “Yeah. We’re just going to act like Covid’s over pretty much even though it isn’t.” So that’s been my impression of it. I’m not going to lie. When Covid first popped up, I was not worried because in my head, I was like, “Man, this is going to be another SARS, swine flu, Ebola.” It seems like they come up every few years, and for the most part, up until Covid, they didn’t really amount to anything. It’s like the media gets all whipped up about it, and everybody’s about to freak out, but then nothing happens.
I thought Covid was going to be the same way, but I really underestimated the impact of not having an administration, a government, a system in place that was doing stuff and taking it seriously. At the same time, I know that didn’t help, but Covid was a worldwide thing. Were all of their governments sorry at the time? I mean, I know some places did better than others. But my point is, I keep hoping Monkeypox will be more like all those other diseases that pop up periodically over the course of our lives but don’t break out into a full-blown epidemic because if it does, Jesus, I don’t know.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: When we last spoke, you said that the pandemic pushed the pause button on your pursuing the TV show. Anything new on that front?
Trae Crowder: I call it pushing that boulder like Sisyphus. You know, Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill and starting over. That’s how I feel about the TV world. I’m always doing something. Me, Corey and Drew have been pitching a cartoon. We just turned some stuff in to Fox. We’re trying to sell a cartoon to Fox, you know.
I’ve got a new project that I’m working on with this company called All Things Comedy sort of like a late night show, like a political talk show that we’re putting together and going to try and get set up somewhere. But even if we do, it’ll still be a long road ahead for it. My point is, I’ve always got something that I’m trying to get going. It’s just that they normally don’t work out because that’s just the nature of the business.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I think you’d make a great guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Trae Crowder: (laughs) It would be more of like a John Oliver type of situation. But, yeah, me in a host role talking about things. So we’ll see if anybody’s into that.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Have you thought about writing another book? The Liberal Redneck Manifesto was great!
Trae Crowder: It’s funny you say that. Me and Corey are working on a book right now. It’s like a travelogue. It’s like our experiences traveling across America, post-Trump America. It’s not explicitly political, but it’s kind of just about the cultural landscape of America, what stereotypes people have about the different regions, the people from there and what the reality is in our experiences. Corey went viral during the pandemic, and a book opportunity arose. Then I got roped into it basically. I don’t want to make it sound like I don’t want to do it. I just meant that’s sort of how it came together. We’ve almost got it written at this point, and it’ll still be at least a year before it ever comes out. But there will be another book. Yeah.
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