Trae Crowder – The Liberal Redneck
June 29, 2021

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The Liberal Redneck himself Trae Crowder joins us to discuss southern stereotypes, rural politics, his upcoming comedy tour, and more! Check out WellRedComedy.com for Trae, Corey, and Drew’s touring dates and info!

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Interview transcript

Chuck Corra: First I was hoping that we could start by talking a little bit about where you’re from because I think that’s a really important part of you.

Growing up in rural Tennessee

Trae Crowder: I’m from Celina, Tennessee, which is in clay county, 40 miles north of Cookeville, Tennessee. So that’s halfway between Nashville and Knoxville. It’s like the middle of nowhere as far as Tennessee goes – very rural, no traffic lights, no McDonald’s or Walmarts or anything. I graduated high school with 60 people, and that was the biggest class my school had ever had.

It’s very small and that’s where I grew up. Then I went to college in Cookeville at Tennessee Tech University, graduated from there, got a job. It’s just the job I happened to get. It’s not like I was like going for it specifically with the Department of Energy at the Oak Ridge field office up there where they got all that crazy science shit.

Started doing comedy in Knoxville then just progressed that way. I went viral on the internet five years ago and was able to quit that day job go full-time in comedy. That’s the cliff notes version of how we got to here.

Stereotypes about the South

Chuck Corra: I’m glad that you mentioned the going viral thing because that’s how I discovered you. I remember seeing that back then, and at the time I was living in Tennessee and feeling demoralized about the politics of the South.

It definitely was something that gave me a lot of hope with respect to that.  I’m curious if you’ve experienced any southern stereotypes living in California now.

Trae Crowder: Yeah. I think I get the impression a lot, like the side-eye that people get that I get from people when they hear my accent. I’m assuming is related to assumptions they make about me or whatever, but in terms of actual verbal exchanges that indicate any of that, the only thing that’s happened is usually in the context of a comedy show or something….

Accents

…is that people think that I’m faking it. Not that I’m faking being from the South necessarily, but they don’t think the accent is real – which is always funny to me.

It’s just so alien to a lot of people out here – not only are they caught off guard by it, but it’s hard for them to compute, they just don’t run into it very often so they think it’s like a shtick or something.

I think anybody that is from the south and they sound like it has run into that thing before – like they think you’re dumb or you’re racist. 

Assumptions people make about southern accents

Corey, Drew and I did a sketch for Comedy Central about being in a bar in New York and a guy starting telling us a bunch of racist jokes and stuff because he just assumes that we’ll be down with that…but you could tell some people feel like they have carte blanche to just be like openly racist or whatever in your presence, or just assume that you’re on the same page with them and being a conservative or something that – that has happened to me multiple times out here too.

I think to myself “I didn’t have my accent, would you be saying the shit right now?”

I assume the answer is no because I feel like they’ve got to just automatically assume that most of the people they run into are liberal or whatever, then they hear me talk and they’re like, “oh, this is a guy I can unload on” and then they do. So it’s definitely a thing. 

Big John: Do you specifically ever feel like your accent or the ability for somebody to tell you’re from the south has ever held you back in comedy or in LA for instance?

Stereotypes about being from the South

 Trae Crowder: Yeah, I think that when I audition and stuff for roles it doesn’t do me any favors a lot of times in that regard.

But I don’t get that feedback necessarily. I just assume it because it’s hard for me to just speak without my accent

A general American accent to me, my brain interprets as like the absence of an accent, and it’s really hard for me to do so I think I screwed myself over in that way.

People also have this expectation that you’re gonna do like a “hillbilly” or something like it’s going to be more of a show when you’re in a meeting with them or something like that.

This may partially be my fault because, in the videos I do, I’m a little bit louder and more abrasive, but that’s just how that goes. I used to get told by people that my accent would hurt me. Like when I started a day job in the business world or applying for jobs or whatever.

And, again, I’ve never been told this, but like I was trying to find jobs in Los Angeles in my day job field just so I can move out here and pay the bills and try to be a comedian out here and I never got anywhere at all out here, even though I was qualified per my resume.

A lot of this is probably just in my head or chip on my shoulder, but I always thought that the accent might’ve had something to do with that. 

Chuck Corra: Yeah. It’s unfortunate we heard that from a lot of people. We did an episode on accents where we actually collected a lot of different accents from throughout Appalachia.

One of the common threads that people told us was that they felt like it was holding them back or they felt like there were some preconceived notions about who you are and what you believe in.

Assumptions made about “red states”

But I know that you all have talked about it before, especially when you’re talking to when you were doing touring prior to the pandemic about the preconceived ideas of red states. For example, people saying “why would you want to do your business in a state that votes Republican?” Or “why would you want to hold an event or something in a state that votes Republican?”

It devalues the people that are doing the hard work in those states and it just paints a generalized picture. I’m just curious about your thoughts on that, about just people’s assumptions about “red states” in general.

Trae Crowder: I think probably because I’m a liberal from a red state, I’ve always been very opposed to that mentality of boycotting or whatever

We’ve been asked before – Corey just got asked literally yesterday! Our first show back on tour after the pandemic is next month, July 10th in Atlanta, Georgia (get tickets here)

Boycotting states isn’t productive

Corey is literally from Georgia and he got asked “do you really think it’s a good decision to be given your business to the state of Georgia right now ” or whatever and he kinda snapped on him, rightfully.

I made a whole video about that a while back about how I didn’t buy into that. Georgia is a really illustrative example of this because just a few months prior, a few weeks prior, Georgia was like the belle of the ball – the heroes of the left!

Then the crazy right-wingers who are still there passed some upsetting legislation and then all of a sudden, like literally overnight, complete 180, “fuck Georgia, let’s choke them out economically and teach them a lesson” or whatever.

t’s not like the people who turned Georgia blue left, like they’re all still there.

Stacy Abrams was still there so what? Just fuck them now too?

A lot of people in Atlanta work in the film industry. If some movie gets moved or something, that affects regular people. A lot of whom are probably liberals who like, now don’t have a job because of this shit.

I’ve also always said about my shows specifically, first of all, no, one’s going to care. I’m not Bruce Springsteen, but secondly, even if they did care,  the people that you’re trying to affect by boycotting would love it!

Me showing up would piss them off more than trying to boycott them. So there are a million different reasons why I just am not down with that mentality at all and never have been.

Big John: You mentioned Georgia. I think that happens all over the south and Appalachia. like people see something bad happened in one of these Southern states or one of these Appalachian states and they immediately want to cancel the entire state.

I always ask people like, cause people shit on West Virginia all the time and you know what a lot of the times rightfully so when it comes to politics and stuff, I get it. It’s normally liberals who are shitting on West Virginia and then they wonder why conservatives here don’t like liberals.

I don’t think it’s as much politics as much as it comes off as them hating West Virginia, because I don’t know about Tennessee, but in West Virginia, You could be liberal, conservative, whatever. But if you talk shit on West Virginia, it’s like us versus everyone kind of thing.

Generalizing the South about racism

Trae Crowder: I have a whole lot of super-liberal fans, many of whom are not from the south, they’re like coastal liberals or whatever. I love them, but it’s wild the way that they will talk to me about the south sometimes and I have to almost remind them like, “Hey, I’m from there and I love Tennessee”

Sometimes they just talk about how insanely racist the South is….why are you asking me about it when the LAPD is right there?  Like, ask Rodney King about how much more racist Tennessee is than out here in LA. NWA wasn’t rapping about how appreciated they felt in Southern California.

“Racism is an American problem”

You gotta be careful when going on these rants like this because you could come off as like an apologist or something. And my whole thing has always been like, I’m not saying that the south doesn’t have issues with race still that aren’t racist and racism, systematic racism in the south.

I’m just saying that’s an American problem.  That exists everywhere else too, because what, a lot of times those liberals do, whether they even realize it or not is they use the south as the scapegoat for that shit, which kind of implicitly. Yeah. Tells them in their brain.  That means it’s not a problem everywhere else.

Big John: We’ve said the exact same thing of literally stop blaming just a single part of the country for what is a systematic problem across the nation.

That’s the thing is we give some people passes for doing these bad things and we condemn others. We should condemn everybody if they’re doing this terrible shit. 

Electoral maps don’t tell the full story

Trae Crowder: It’s all, it’s like also a point I’m sure y’all might plenty of times we alluded to it already that I’ve also brought up a ton.

You look at an electoral map and traditionally the south is just a big swath of red, right? But in any given state, the breakdown is like 58 to 42, or  55, 45, or whatever red to blue, or you take all those states together. It’s just one big chunk of red, but that’s millions of people who voted blue, who is on the other side of it but they just get forgotten about, but the thing is that works in reverse too in California, it’s blue, but they’re 40% of people out here voted for Trump, 40% of people or roughly that, whatever it is in like Marine county or San Francisco or wherever name, your liberal bastion, roughly 40% of people there voted for Donald Trump and are conservative as hell.

 So it’s  yeah, it’s just easy to paint with a very broad brush and people tend to do that when the reality of it is way more complicated. The other thing that I’m sure you all have talked about is me court and jury. We’ve toured the country driven across a lot of states and it’s like cities or kind of cities.

And then the rural parts are    they’re not all the same, but  you say it like we drove from Spokane, Washington to Seattle, Washington,  seattle’s liberal as hell. But that drive across the state of Washington shit load of Trump flags, shit load of pro-life billboards, gun stores, all the   it looked like rural Alabama.

You know what I mean? Not topographically speaking, but  like culturally, same place. And now pretty much every state is like that.  The place outside of the south that we saw the most Confederate flags in was Maine. I don’t know why, and I’m not. And it was like, we saw  four, but we were in Maine for a day and a half.

 That’s a lot of Confederate flags to see in Maine, but I’m just saying. The shit exists everywhere on both sides of the spectrum, but it doesn’t get talked about or treated that way,  yeah. For sure.  You hit on one thing. That was actually one of my favorite pet peeves. And you mentioned California.

Chuck Corra: I did this, I started crunching the numbers one day and you can  cut like the Eastern chunk of California out. And you would have the 26 most populous state at  four and a half million people that voted for Trump by 7.4%. It’s like, all right, let’s stay, boundaries are arbitrary. And  it’s these generalizations that heard     you  alluded to this when  people make assumptions about where you’re from and it’s based on these false assumptions stereotypes.

 Some of which like there’s, there are granular truce too. And I think you’re right. Like when we do get into this type of conversation, we have to be really careful not to sound like an apologist, but it also you’re very right. That it is an American problem, not just a necessarily a Southern problem.

Trae Crowder: The other thing about it when it comes to race in particular is   The south is like arguably the most racially diverse region of the whole country.  Like the south is where we, most black Americans live other than a few  other big cities, Detroit and New York or whatever.

But like the south is very black. It was a lot of black people in the south,  and  a lot of times you have liberals from. Some liberal place. That’s 99% white. You know what I mean? Talking about how racist the south is. And actually I’ve told this story a million times. I’m going to tell it again because I just think it was very mind blowing to me at a conversation with a woman who came to my show, who was a self-professed liberal white woman in her mid forties, probably nice lady.

But she was after a show. We were at a bar and she was there. She had been at the show, she was, had been drinking and she was talking to me and she had already mentioned in passing that she grew up in some suburb of Colorado where the state of Colorado, she grew up in some suburb of Colorado that she had already told me it was like 99% white.

 That’s where she was from then later, she mentioned that she drove through the south once, 20 years ago, right on her way to flow Miami or whatever, drove through it once 20 years ago. And she just could not believe how incredibly racist the south was and I’d been drinking too. And so I was like, okay  I was like, okay, you know what?

I got to say it that’s honestly a long time pet peeve of mine is when someone like you, who is admittedly from my place, that’s almost entirely white talks about how racist the south is. Because to me it’s   what do you even know about racism?  You live only with white people. And I  really thought I had fucked up and put my foot in my mouth because she said  actually I do know about it.

My daughter is black.  So I was like, oh shit, okay, try you fucked up this time. But then she kept going and I swear to God, this is what she said verbatim. She goes, no, I do know a little bit about it because my daughter is black.  She doesn’t act black. Like she makes great grades. She loves to just  she doesn’t add black at all.

And I was like, like what? I said, that’s literally the most racist shit I’ve heard in years. Probably.  And she was like   no. I’m just saying, I was like, no, I’m just like, that was crazy racist. And I’m saying, this is. Self identified liberal woman in Colorado with a mixed race, talking about her own mixed race daughter in a super racist way and had  no, self-awareness about that whatsoever.

 If you told, if you suggested to her, like outside of this context  that she might have some issues with race or she’s racist or whatever she would emphatically deny it. You know what I mean? No, never fundamentally opposed to any kind of racism or bigotry, but yet this is  what comes out of her brain about her own child.

And so it’s  it’s just really complicated. Like the whole thing is just really complicated on both sides. Because on the flip side, we all know if you’re from the south, we all know  all people who will use fucking racial slurs and whatever, but aren’t, but otherwise don’t do or act racist. Do you know what I mean?

Like they just. Like they don’t hate anybody. They genuinely don’t, they’re just ignorant in the way that they talk or whatever,       or  not just rice or you have    some old boy yelled at  just being like, I’m in hell last night, queer should get married.

You know what I mean? It’s  yeah. That’s like the RIAA yeah. Ultimate stance to make, but the wrong way to go about it. You know what I mean? It’s  and that’s a real thing too. So it’s  I’m saying, it’s just  it’s just very complicated at every point along that spectrum,  yeah. That’s fair.

 Big John: And that also is like, when I think about that to me, That’s also a generational issue across the board.    People want to say  oh man, down there in Georgia, Tennessee    all these older people say this, the older people say it across the board because absolutely because them growing up, they didn’t have this culture that we have.

It’s a totally different culture. So they still use it in their everyday vocabulary across the country, probably across the world, to be honest. But I don’t know much about the other side of the hemisphere, but still. 

Trae Crowder: Yeah, dude. Do you think  all like Italian mammals and long island aren’t racist as fuck?

Like I guarantee you, they are. Yeah. All it is generational. All paper just is a different time. They say, which is true. Yeah. 

Big John: And it sucks.   Cause nobody wants to create excuses for it, but then  you kinda, you look at the major differences that we have now.  It’s just a totally different world.

It really is.  Even just looking at, not even looking at just the racist parts, but just the vocabulary that we’re allowed to use, what they were allowed to use. I wanted to jump into and say, just real quick about a statistic in Appalachia. Everybody thinks that everybody here is white.  That’s what we always get all the time.

And a lot of times people forget like almost 20% of new growth in Appalachia are minorities. And that’s actually a pretty decent number when it comes to across the board. It’s still low, but we always say, everybody says  oh, Appalachia is all white and just dismisses all of these other people. Yes.

Trae Crowder: That, that is another thing that has always annoyed me is it’s like other people when they think of like the south or Southern or. They only made like one type of person, even though there are so many other different types of southerners and those people can  be aware of that, but they still, they like discount the ones who don’t fit that    their preconception that they have in their head.

Like even me  it’s  yeah, you’re, it’s essentially  yeah, you’re from there.  You’re not one of them or whatever. It’s always like, why don’t I count? Do you know what I mean?  I should count in your assessment of what the south is  but it don’t work that way. They just put me into the other category.

You know what I mean? And keep thinking that a southerner is fucking racist and bred hillbilly or whatever. And it’s like even other like southerners like-minded southerners contend to do that. Sometimes I almost feel bad when I tell this story. Cause he’s a really good dude. I won’t say his name, but it’s a journalist.

I had an interview with a Southern journalist who again, good dude, progressive. And he like had this realization about himself because he was interviewing me and he says, who do you think is. The best Southern Canadian out there right now. And I said, Roy Wood Jr. And he was like  it was like, oh  wow.

I, you know what, honestly, I didn’t even realize this, but like when I said Southern comedian, I just  took it for granted that it would be like  a white Southern comedian. He’s  even though, like I realized that’s not fair. Cause RO like Roy is from Alabama and he’s   very Southern in my opinion.

And he is also the best. So like it’s a totally valid response, but it’s just   it’s just a thing. People do  classify as a certain ways. 

Chuck Corra: Yeah. It’s a, it’s unfortunate. It’s something that I think  I know we try to push back on and I know that you all a well-read and also individually really do a great job at  One thing I wanted to talk about before we let you go.

 In addition to your tour, this upcoming, which is very exciting, I’m very happy you guys are getting back on road  and we’ll mention that. One thing I did want to talk about though, is  some of the movement by, I think more progressive people to have more of a voice in places in the south and in Appalachia.

And one of those is Tennessee holler.  I think run by  Justin canoe.  Great guy  wish you would have won his race, but    Valiant effort, nonetheless, he’s put together a really impressive organization. You spoke at holler Fest. I’m  curious  what your thoughts are about that?

Like the type of work you’ve been doing with him and with his organization    and how important that is to a place like Tennessee. 

Trae Crowder: I think it’s hugely important. I love Justin. I love the holler. I love what he’s doing.  And I think that type of thing is hugely important because. People need to be made aware that there’s, that south is not a monolith and there’s more than just one type of voice coming from it.

 I’m not at all calling myself a trailblazer or nothing. But when I first went viral in 2016, there were so many people who said some version of  oh, you’re like a unicorn or something. Or  I literally didn’t know that people like you existed. Like people like coastal paper, whatever would literally say that to me.

 I didn’t know, you were a thing. This is great  or whatever. And it’s  yeah. And I’m not the only one either.  Even in Solana, Tennessee, my buddies, that I’m still tight with. They’re all like me,  and  we’re like seven dudes, but  in a school as  from a class of 60, that’s not that bad  percentage.

Yeah.  And  were people just, it was. And totally unknown thing to a lot of the rest of the country, literally that there were dissenting opinions in the sound like they didn’t know that there were any liberals in the south at all. And now X number of years later, I feel like there’s a lot of people and a lot of voices and platforms like the Tennessee holler out there that  prove otherwise.

And they’ve gotten more and more popular and people say there’s stuff. And so surely we can just slowly  continue to chisel away at that perception,  and it’s because of people like Justin and places like the holler and you guys do, and just everybody that’s trying to    fight the good fight and whatnot.

So yeah, I definitely think it’s important cause that’s  I, that, I think people, a lot of times, especially people on the coast don’t realize  that’s actually probably the more important part of it all to me. Meaning like people ask me. Yeah.  How many minds, if you changed.  And what they made is like a stereotypical redneck who’s like cool with abortion now because of her YouTube video or whatever.

And I’m always like, I’m going to be honest with you. Not that many anecdotally. Yeah. I have heard a couple of stories. People at shows being like my dad’s all your video now, whatever that has happened, but not often, I think that’s very hard to do.  But what has happened a lot is I have talked to coastal people or people from outside the south who have told me  you  changed the way that I viewed the south in general.

And that’s actually more important to me,  cause that’s like more achievable. That’s like in so far as I have mission, which  I don’t, I’m a community and I want to be funny, but if I had a mission, that’s what it  is trying to just show a different side of the sales,  and that’s what the holler and Justin and you guys and everybody else is  the rest of it.

 All I minded country folks are trying to do  yeah. 

Chuck Corra: Hell. Yeah. Yeah. You made a good point. And it, I think changing the perception of the south and Appalachia is something that’s extremely important. And I think those organizations like TN holler, that type of thing builds community because it shows people  even other Tennesseeans that may feel that way, but don’t feel like they have an outlet or don’t feel like there’s a voice that’s speaking for them or with them.

I think it’s a really important thing because that’s honestly, that’s, I think how a lot of the right wing bullshit has really gotten so strong is because there has been strong communities built around that tea party being just one example of it.  I know that you’ve got another interview to go to.

So I want to give you some time in between that, but I did want to make sure that we plugged the well-read comedy tour. That’s coming up because I saw you and Corey, I think put  put something out about tour dates now, and it looks like you’re booking more by the day, which is extremely exciting. I was very disappointed when  when they got canceled.

Cause I was actually so see all in DC in  April 20, 20 and Jesus, some, I spent two years now.  But it actually it’s a year. I don’t know. I can’t 

Trae Crowder: AGU. It feels like an eternity, but yeah, we’re thrilled. We’re thrilled to be finally. Cause  what happened was they first got  the pandemic first happened and it seems so ridiculous now, but this is how most people fail.

When it first happened, we had some shows and they just got  pushed back and it was like  you got something about  late July, early August, this shows in March or April. And at that time we were like, oh yeah, we’ll. We’ll be fine  by August.    And then it got pushed back.

Some of them got pushed back to  December and we were like, surely by the end of the year, it’ll be fine.  And that just didn’t have it. And here we are, it’s actually, we had taken a two month break that was planned for  a year and a half in advance. And it just so happened to be January and February of 20, 28.

 Our first like right from the road in four years. And it was that timeframe. So we haven’t had, we w the well-read comment to her. Hasn’t had a show in 18 months since December, 2019.    We are thrilled to get back to it. And yeah, it’s well read. And it’s R E D well-read comedy.com and has all the current dates, some of the ticket links aren’t up yet.

Cause this is all coming together pretty quickly. And it’s very legit   a logistical nightmare of trying to get this all back up and running, but we are adding new dates all the time. We’re getting the links up and everything, but July 10th in Atlanta, July 23rd, 24th in Birmingham, Alabama, that was a dates are up and the tickets are available now.

So yeah. Please check it out. Come see us. 

Chuck Corra: Hell. Yeah, for sure. And we’ll put links in our    episode to that too as well. Cause I know a lot of our fans are really excited about that.  They have been wanting you to come on our show, so we’re  really grateful for your time and  really appreciate it.

And hopefully we can  talk again in the future. I’d love to  love to have you on again or work on something in the future. Yeah, 

Trae Crowder: absolutely. Look forward to it. Thank you guys. Thanks for having me.

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