KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Comedian Trae Crowder is a born and bred Tennessean who loves nothing better than to get a laugh by poking fun at himself and his rural upbringing.
Comedy has always been a part of Crowder’s life. He’ll tell you his big break can actually be tracked back to one evening in West Knoxville.
“Last fall when Tennessee lost to Florida for the 11th straight time I got hammered drunk, went in the backyard and tore the tree house down,” joked Crowder. “Yeah, I’m not a redneck.”
The 31-year-old says he started his career during an open mic night at the former SideSplitters Comedy Club.
He called Knoxville his home for almost seven years and his rise to stardom can be attributed to his series of YouTube videos where he’s better known as “The Liberal Redneck.” Two words that normally don’t go hand in hand.
“People say to me all the time, you’re like seeing a unicorn! And I’m not, I tell them I’m really not,” said Crowder. “Am I the minority in the South? Yes, but I’m far from unique though.”
Whether on stage or on YouTube, the Clay County native is known for his outspoken views supporting LGBT rights and more recently his stand against the Confederate flag.
“I don’t know if there is any symbol more inherently un-American than the Confederate flag,” said Crowder on YouTube.
The question is, can a joke go too far, especially when talking about sensitive topics? Crowder says no.
“You have freedom of speech, but you also don’t have freedom from consequences for it. It’s the same thing with jokes,” said Crowder. “You can make any joke you want, but if you do what Kathy Griffin did, you have to anticipate the kind of response that she got. And when you get it, you can’t break down and cry and act you’ve been victimized or whatever.”
Needless to say, Crowder’s YouTube videos garner hundreds of thousands of views and responses. This leads many to ask, is that really him or just a character?
“It comes up every time, every video. People are like, ‘This is not real. This guy is not a real person, it’s a gimmick, a caricature. That ain’t even a real accent.’ All the hateful messages I get, the only ones that bother me at all are the ones insinuating that I’m a fraud of some kind,” said Crowder. “It comes to me very naturally. It’s really just an exaggerated version of myself. It’s really just me cranked up to an 11 basically.”
Crowder has a sold-out show at the Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville on October 8.