Trae Crowder Interview: "There’s Just So Much Bullshit Coming Out of This Administration"
Written by Marc Parker and Melissa Benefield Parker, Posted in Interviews Comedians
Image attributed to Trae Crowder
Trae Crowder hails from Celina, Tennessee, and got his start as a standup comic following an open mic night at Side Splitters Comedy Club in Knoxville. Soon after, he evolved his main character that was described as the Liberal Redneck, and his trademark comedic monologues have garnered both controversy and cumulative views in the millions on YouTube. His videos include topics of race, religion, LGBTQ rights, gun control and anything Donald Trump.
Crowder, along with comedy pals Corey Ryan Forrester and Drew Morgan, authored The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin’ Dixie Outta the Dark and have been playing to sold out venues across the country in the wellRED comedy tour. All tours have been postponed this year due to the pandemic, but fans can see and hear him live every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 PM pacific on his Facebook page with a new show called Evening Skews where Crowder, and his cohost Mark Agee, discuss topics ranging from everything Trump to southern politics, confederate statues and beans.
"Evening Skews is another little quarantine project. I didn’t start it on a whim. I did think about it a lot before actually pulling the trigger on it."
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Hi Trae, how are you and your family doing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Trae Crowder: We’re doing okay. My sons are seven and eight now. They seem to be holding up just fine and handling it just fine. They pretty much never go anywhere. Like, thank God there’s two of them ‘cause otherwise, cooped up for so long at an age like that is for sure not ideal. But they seem to be alright. My wife and I both are doing our best. We’re doing good.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You are living in Los Angeles?
Trae Crowder: Yeah. I’m in Burbank specifically.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: What is the school situation as far as going back to the classroom or learning online?
Trae Crowder: I think this is true for every school in the area, but for Burbank, at least I know for a fact that we are virtual only. It’s online classes only, and they’ll revisit in the spring. From a purely selfish perspective, the whole online learning thing at the end of last semester was very, very stressful. I was not a fan of it, but I understand the reality of the situation, and I don’t think they should be going back. So I’m more than okay with it.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Is that a quarantine mustache I see in the photos on your Facebook page? (laughs)
Trae Crowder: Yeah (laughs). Yes. It is a quarantine mustache. I could do my own beard and mustache obviously, but I have not been able to get a haircut, so my hair is getting all wily and out of control. Since that was happening anyway, I thought, “Why not? I’ll just grow it all out and see what happens.” (laughs) My wife kind of jokingly offered to cut my hair saying, “I could do it,” and I said, “You ain’t coming near my hair. Don’t even think about it.”
Smashing Interviews Magazine: (laughs) What’s the update on the television show based on your life?
Trae Crowder: The way the TV shows work is that at this point, almost four years later from the very beginning of the process, I have gone through multiple different iterations of it, multiple different possible networks, multiple different partners. None of that is uncommon. I call it development hell. That’s what a lot of people refer to it as. It’s a very common situation to find yourself in.
So that’s sort of just where I’m at. It’s still very much an active ongoing concern for me. I’m still very focused on trying to get something on the air. But, yeah, I’ve had to go through a bunch of different iterations of it, and I’m not going to lie. The pandemic has just pushed the pause button on that, in addition to most other things for me right now. So at the present moment because of everything that’s going on, it’s kind of just sort of stationary. But when things get back to normal, I’m definitely going to fire it back up.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I’m looking at your IMDB, and I see Killer Raccoons 2: Dark Christmas in the Dark (laughs).
Trae Crowder: (laughs) A comedian buddy of mine made that little indie horror, micro-budget movie. We’re friends, so he asked me to do a voice only cameo in the movie. So, yeah, I did that for my buddy. One of the guys I was partnered with on one of the versions of my TV show that did not get made, is Rob Thomas. I love the guy, and he’s the showrunner for a bunch of things but in particular Veronica Mars.
When they brought back Veronica Mars on Hulu last year, Rob gave me a little small part in two episodes of that. So I did that, and I had a Facebook Watch series called Southing Off where I’m just the host of it. It’s not acting. I was hosting as myself. Other than like documentary appearances, that’s about it as far as that goes.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You, Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester held a one-night-only virtual comedy event in August. Was that similar to the shows you guys put on during live performances?
Trae Crowder: It’s me, Corey and Drew, but the material was completely different. Most of it was at least tangentially quarantined, pandemic-lockdown related. Like anybody that does live performances and tours, we’ve been completely shut down by this. For a while, we were just sitting around waiting on it to get better, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much better because of a lot of reasons, the way the country has approached it in general and the leadership, but that’s another story.
We reached the point where, “Oh, it’s not getting better and not going to get better in the near future.” We realized that, and that meant we were not going to be back on the road anytime soon. I mean, who knows when it will get better in terms of pandemic? Who knows when that’s going to happen?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: So very true. Was the virtual show successful?
Trae Crowder: It went great, in my opinion. I mean, look, it’s a different thing from live standup. But the thing that it is can also be a lot of fun, and we had fun with ours. The feedback and comments have been pretty much universally positive, so that’s great. We’re definitely already considering doing another one, though I have no idea when. We don’t want to repeat a single joke, so it may take us a little bit to write that much more material, but we definitely want to have another go-round. So we’ll see.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Comedy can take our minds off of this horrible pandemic for a while, so I say virtual comedy is certainly a great idea. Tell me about Evening Skews and your cohost.
Trae Crowder: Evening Skews is another little quarantine project. I didn’t start it on a whim. I did think about it a lot before actually pulling the trigger on it. It came about because of two things really. One, I felt like it was more important than ever but also more difficult than ever to stay informed politically. There’s just so much bullshit coming out of this administration and current political climate each and every day that it can he hard to keep track; not to mention how depressing a lot of it is.
So I felt like I needed an actual project to sort of force me to be diligent. Two, like everyone else, I have been going a little crazy in this pandemic, and I wanted a new thing to occupy my time and interest. Thus, Evening Skews was born.
As far as my cohost, Mark Agee, he’s a comedy writer in LA. He and I have become friends over the past few years. In that time, I pretty quickly realized that he is one of those insatiable political junkies. He’s just always extremely on top of what’s going on out there in the world. I had noticed that about him already, and also I knew he used to be a journalist in Dallas before making the very questionable decision to pursue a career in comedy.
All of that plus the fact that Mark can talk real good and purdy-like and is funny just all combined to make him feel like the perfect cohost for something like the Skews. I hope people watch/listen to us. It’s every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 PM pacific on my Facebook page with more options coming soon.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You addressed the George Floyd protests in Portland in one of your videos a few weeks ago and said that police departments have to make sweeping, fundamental changes to the culture of their order. What’s a good start?
Trae Crowder: It honestly blows my mind how many additional instances of fatalities that have been captured by people on camera since George Floyd. It’s insane to me because they know the age we live in. Everyone knows all the time that you are potentially on a camera, and if you’re not on a camera right now, you’re 15 seconds away from somebody pulling their phone out and that can be broadcast to the universe live even, and if not, 15 seconds after the fact. Everyone knows that, and every cop in the country knows the kind of scrutiny they’re under right now and knows what’s going on and knows all eyes are on them. And they still have been pushing 70-year-old people down and cracking their heads open on the sidewalk and shooting rubber bullets at people in wheelchairs, tasing moms, tear gassing soccer moms and just all this crazy shit.
It blows my mind that there doesn’t seem to be a more apparent effort to get it together. I think that’s because of the overall culture that they have like having that authority or power that they don’t have to answer to anybody or they can operate the way they want to operate. It’s up to them and no one else, and they do what they want to. They always have, and I think you can see that playing out in real time right now. As far as what should happen, I think it’s ridiculous that basically when anything happens, a cop car shows up. I don’t think we need cops for substance abuse or things like that. I don’t think we need cops for mental health problems or medical concerns. A cop shows up no matter what is wrong, and I don’t think that should be the case anymore. So that cuts down on the scope of the police department.
I think they should have civilian oversights. There should be some type of community board that has oversight of the police department at any given community, and they should be subject to their oversight. A lot of people say to put more money into training them. That only matters if the training is different than what its been (laughs). The way they are trained is part of the problem right now. More of that training isn’t going to fix anything. It’s got to be completely different than the way they’ve gone about it in the past. They need to be de-militarized. Cops don’t need tanks. That should all go.
I’m a pretty hardcore liberal. I’m pretty extreme in a lot of my views. This is never going to happen, but I think in any major metropolitan police department, they should all be released and have to re-apply to get their badges back. There should be some sort of a civilian oversight review process that determines whether you get to be a cop anymore. I think maybe they should have licenses. You have to have a license to do somebody’s nails. You’ve got to have a license to sell sex toys. But you don’t have to have a license to be a cop? You should have to have a license that could be suspended or revoked by a civilian committee if you’re not “copping” right. If you’re being a bad cop, there should be consequences.
There’s a million different things that we could do. But that just goes to show how sweeping and systematic the problems are and that many measures are needed. But I do think a massive reform is necessary. I honestly can’t let myself think about it too much because it really starts to freak me out. This is literal fascism playing out in real time right in front of our eyes in American cities. I mean, you literally have a secret police force occupying liberal American cities. That’s crazy, but here we are.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: The American people’s minds are on quarantining, wearing masks, trying not to contract COVID-19. Meanwhile, Donald Trump basically doesn’t seem to worry or bear any responsibility for the spread of the coronavirus even though the American people have found out that he knew how deadly it was going to be but didn't inform us of that fact.
Trae Crowder: What can you even say? It’s just awful. It’s a plague. It’s kind of like a natural disaster, and it’s such a terrible thing to have happen that we’re all having to deal with. But it didn’t have to be the way that it is in this country. That’s the thing. It didn’t have to be as much of a mess that it is. It didn’t have to be as bad as its been. It’s not like it’s just the reality of the situation.
If you handle it appropriately at the very beginning, then you avoid a lot of this hardship down the road that we’re going through right now that’s just been bungled completely and entirely from the top down since the very beginning. That is the real shame of it. I can’t even adequately express how negatively I view this administration’s handling of this pandemic. It’s hard to imagine it being much worse than its been, in my opinion.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: What does the Democratic Party need to focus on to ensure victory over Donald Trump?
Trae Crowder: Well, right now, I feel like Joe Biden feels almost kind of absent at present. I think that’s on purpose, and I think that it’s working. I don’t know this, obviously, but what it seems to me that they’re doing right now is continuing to give Trump more rope to hang himself with, just letting him continue to crash and burn and to just spiral out of control. They’re just sitting back and letting it happen and resting on the fact that, “Hey, we’re not this guy. This is what you’ve got. This is what you’re going to continue to have or you can vote for us.” That seems to be the primary approach right now, and it also seems to be working.
The polls are pretty encouraging if you’re a Democrat right now. Whatever they’re doing seems to be working from my perspective, so I think they should keep doing it. As it gets closer to the election, focus on the reality of the current situation because again, I don’t think the pandemic is going to be any better then. Just harp on that, how much better it should have been handled, that type of thing. It is hard to choose just one terrible facet of Trump’s reign to key in on, and you shouldn’t focus on just one of them. But, yeah, I think you go with just the status quo and how bad it is and how that it is absolutely his fault. That’s my opinion.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Basically just run against Donald Trump and not key in on any issues?
Trae Crowder: I mean, yeah. I feel like no matter who it was, that was going to be the thing. But I feel like it’s certainly the play at this point. I feel like that’s what you’ve got to do, in my opinion, because that’s the reality of it. Joe Biden’s not like a sexy candidate. He doesn’t get a lot of people real fired up and passionate the way that Obama did, you know, or the way Trump did with his base. He’s not like that. And that’s okay.
But I think the major selling point for a whole lot of people is what the alternative is. The selling point for Joe Biden is that he’s not Donald Trump, and Donald Trump is the other choice. It might be a cynical viewpoint, but I just think that’s the way it is.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: How do you see it going between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the debates?
Trae Crowder: First of all, I honestly won’t be surprised if it ends up not being any presidential debates. I just wouldn’t put it past Trump and his ilk whatsoever to find a way to weasel out of it. I think that honestly, the way things have been going, the Biden campaign would probably be pretty okay with skipping them, too (laughs).
That said, I think if they do happen, then the same thing that went down in 2016 will go down again; i.e., the Democratic candidate will almost objectively beat Trump in every debate, but the right and Trump’s cult will act as though the exact opposite happened. So ya know, business as usual round here. Still though, for the record, I personally very much hope they happen. I want to see it.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Me, too. When the pandemic is over, the first thing is to prepare for touring?
Trae Crower: Professionally speaking, yes, but one of the very first things I’m going to do when all of this is over is get a flippin’ haircut (laughs). But, yeah, get some dates on the calendar and get back on the road.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Trae, final thoughts on Evening Skews and upcoming projects?
Trae Crowder: Evening Skews is live, but if you don’t catch it live, it stays on my Facebook page and soon will be out on podcast channels, too. But it’s live every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 PM pacific on my page. Mark Agee and I will get into whatever is going on in the news at that given moment because it’s 2020 in America, and there’s usually some pretty crazy stuff we have to talk about. Of course, I’m also continuing to do videos.
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