Comedian Trevor Smith

Trevor Smith is a pretty fantastic comedian and he works hard at it. In fact, he’s been working hard at perfecting his craft for a long time now. He started as a comedian on the other side of the state performing in clubs, bars and cutting his teeth in colleges. Recently he’s moved to the Detroit area and is already making a pretty big impact.

Instantly likable on stage, it’s hard not to like Trevor off stage too. He’s not only a genuinely good guy, but he’s also a super fan of the craft of comedy. Also, a talented artist, Trevor first flew into my radar when he sent me the caricature I use on this site and for just about every piece of marketing I create.

You’re the guy who everyone is talking about. How does that feel?

I don’t know. It feels good I guess, but I’m working hard at it and I’ve been for awhile. I’m pretty self aware and I know I have a lot of work to do before I’m really the guy. I’m just new to the Detroit scene. I came with already some experience, so things just seemed to happen faster than they did.

How are things different over here than they were on the west side of the state?

I made a simple goal of not going days without getting on stage, and that’s something I definitely couldn’t do over there. I haven’t broke that. It really wasn’t that hard. There are a lot of open mics I can get on.
When I’m not doing it, I just love to be around comedy. And I’m lucky that I’m a young guy who’s not in a relationship right now. That helps. So, in my opinion, I don’t really have any excuses. Go watch comedy.

That’s one of the things that I think a lot of people who do comedy don’t take advantage of.  What do you learn from watching shows?

I just like to see every different style of comic. I think there’s something you can learn from everyone. For people who go to open mics, I think you should go to as many real weekend shows as you can. You start to understand little things. Like how headliners close or how they deal with checks being dropped. I’m not in any position to close a room right now, but I’m learning. I’m learning how people deal with that so when it comes, I’ll know. I’m the student.

The first few times I’ve seen you perform have been in open mic experiences where they can sometimes be difficult. You just charm the pants off the audience the second you hit the stage.

That’s something I try to do. Even if I’m not funny, maybe I can get people to like me?

Yeah, you are super likable. So why no relationship?

I don’t know. I didn’t want one and I don’t right now. This is more important. I’ve had girlfriends when I was doing comedy.

Is there a dark side to Trevor Smith? What would surprise people know about you?

Trevors Caricature of himself.

I think people would maybe be surprised that I’ve played Hockey for awhile and I’ve been kicked out of games for fighting.

Really! So there’s a temper on you then?

Yeah. I’d be the guy who’d just push people’s buttons, talk a lot of shit and not back it up. It got to the point where refs didn’t like me. A guy punched me in the face. The ice was really empty. The ref was looking at me and I said, “Did you see that?” And he said, “Yeah.”

Is that because you’re competitive.

Yeah. I’m still competitive. I think you have to be.

With yourself or with your peers?

With myself mostly. I’m really competitive in the sense that I really want to be on other people’s level.

What’s the short term goal?

My short term goal was, and I’ve already sort of done it was, to get into this Detroit scene more. You can get up every night and that’s fun to be around. I want to become a good middle. I’m a middle now. I had an experience where I middled way early and I shouldn’t have. It just made me want to get really good at emceeing first. I feel comfortable middling and I just want to get really good at that spot.

I did things the same way you did with climbing up what I thought was the logical ladder of open mic to MC to feature to headliner. I talked to a guy who said he’s just waiting to approach clubs when he feels like he’s a good feature. What did you learn from your years of emceeing?

A lot. I learned how to move a show along and saying things right like getting people’s intros. I learned a lot from that. That’s just really good experience to have. I never really wanted to be in a position where I felt like I was bigger than emceeing. Like, you’ve emcee sometimes.

Yeah.

If people come to you to do this thing, even if it’s not a comedy thing, they just want a funny guy to MC it, you need that experience. There are a lot of headliners who get asked to MC things. You need to have that valuable experience of knowing how to keep a show running.

Are things happening for you at the rate that you’re happy with?

Yeah. I think so. There hasn’t been anything right now that I don’t think I’m not ready for. The Laughing Skull thing is kind of intimidating, but I know I can do it. I think things are going good right now. I’m starting to middle more. I’ve been doing one nighters for the last year and a half or two so I’ve already been comfortable with that, but clubs are different and I’m excited to do that more.

Are you finding what I found where the clubs are sort of the reward from honing your craft in the one nighters?

Yeah, I think so. I didn’t have a style for those bars at first. If I can’t be funny, how can I make them at least like me?

That doesn’t come as easy in the bar shows? Because it seems like what you do now would work pretty universally.

I think my style has changed a lot on stage since I’ve been here and doing it more.

You did a lot of rape jokes?

(Laughs) And it didn’t fit at all! Also I had an Irish accent or a Boston accent. Both accents!   Even though I was getting work before I came here, just being around other comics really puts me in that writing mood. I’ve literally wrote more in this last year than I ever had. It’s just infectious being around funny people. Mike O’Keefe, Jeff Scheen, Brad Austin, Darnell Anderson, I don’t want to leave anybody out…they’re a bunch of guys I’m always around. You find friends in comics. I’m sure you’re still friends with guys you started with.

Definitely.  I see a lot of parallels between us. When I started my wife was extremely supportive and urged me to go out and get on stage even when I didn’t want to. And I was able to get more stage time than friends because I didn’t have kids at home. When I started to get the breaks before some of my peers I felt guilty.

I know what you mean.

Do you deal with that too?

I do. I guess. The group that I actually started with was in Grand Rapids. To me, it’s a little different. I know what you mean though. I feel like it sucks because a lot of people can’t get up on stage as much because of school or whatever.

Very early on, you started getting pretty involved with performing in colleges. What are some of the differences you find between a club audience and a college audience?

Well, I think colleges get maybe three comedian a year. So already there’s less comedy around. You have more draw so you get a group of people who are really ready for comedy, but also don’t really know what comedy is because they’re not old enough to get into the comedy clubs. So they don’t really know what it’s like to see live comedy. So I think the reason you get some big reactions on things is because they’re not really used to that.

Someone told me that at colleges you have to be super PC, but I haven’t found that to be my experience. I think because of how accessible comedy is with the internet, Comedy Central and pod casts, the audiences are sophisticated enough to understand irony.

Yeah. I think they get a lot of smart and subtle stuff. And also they’re not drunk. It takes more to shock those people, not that that’s a goal.

You seem to have a very clear point of view. Do you feel like you’ve already found your voice?

I’m still working on it. I’ve started writing a lot about me and I’m having fun with that. Before the Fall, I didn’t really have anything about me. I had good material and I could write smart material, but I felt at the end of the day no one could remember who I was after a show. That was the start for me finding my voice. I don’t think I have it, but I’ve gotta talk about me somehow so people know who I am. Like when people see you and you talk about Star Wars and stuff, for the people who are like that too, they immediately don’t care about anything anyone else said because they say, “This guy made the weirdest reference in the world!” And that’s what I mean by identifying yourself. You would stand out. That’s where I want to get. And I think that’ll help me find my voice.  

There’s a thing that I think is impossible to pinpoint, but some people just have a thing where they look like they belong on a stage and I feel like you have that.

Thanks.

My prediction is that you’re going to be the next big break out guy from the area. Keep in mind when I worked in radio I thought Alanis Morrisette would be a one hit wonder. And No Doubt? No chance! Red Five and Leah Andreone would be superstars.

So I have the Mike Bobbitt curse now!

Yeah!

I feel like people have kind things to say about me. It’s easy to take something like that and think, “Well, I can slack off!” I’ve still gotta keep doing this. That’s the hard part about hearing that. To me, I’m not any better than a lot of the guys out there.

Trevor’s competitiveness is paying off and he’s certainly not slacking off.  You can catch him this weekend working at the Comedy Castle with TJ Miller. He also has dates coming up at the Komedy Korner in Windsor. Follow him on Facebook by clicking here

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About Mike Bobbitt

Professionally amusing to some.

Posted on April 21, 2011, in Interviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I would love to know more about how you compare one nighters to clubs. If your humor isn’t bar humor (i.e. sex and drug and booze jokes) how do you hone your craft at one nighters? Or do you find one nighter audiences more receptive?

    Nice interview.

    • I think one nighters are best for me in that they have helped me learn how to command a room that maybe isn’t used to comedy. At a club, people show up sort of knowing how to behave. A lot of times at one nighters, this is the audience’s first experience with live comedy. So it’s not so much a matter or content, although sometimes it is, dirtier seems to work better in bars, but it’s a matter of learning to own the stage.

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