Trevor Wallace, a rising star of Los Angeles’ comedy boom, began his journey in stand-up thanks to a local newspaper clipping. It was an ad his mother gave him for a six-week comedy class, a way to inspire his 17-year-old son to get out of the house long enough to learn a fun and productive skill. Even back then, his desire to be the center of attention and make his friends laugh by any means necessary outweighed the adolescent indignation that can arise from the complaints of a well-meaning parent.
He reluctantly enrolled in the class at the now-defunct Ventura Harbor Comedy Club in his native Ventura and quickly realized he had made a good decision. “From the first class I fell in love,” she said. Whether searching headlines for joke topics or performing short sets on stage and getting that first laugh, Wallace said stand-up helped him find his groove in life. “I was never really an athletic kid growing up, so I never had that feeling of making a winning pass or a shot before the buzzer sounded. But for once, when I did stand-up, everything clicked and I thought: This is what I’m supposed to do,” he said.
That feeling returned 13 years later, as a career comedian, at age 30, taking the stage at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas, for his debut special, “Pterodactyl,” which premiered Nov. 14 on Amazon Prime Video. It was the culmination of not only countless stand-up performances in Los Angeles and the rest of the country, but also billions of views of his short video sketches dating back to the days of the Vine app that temporarily ruled the networks. social.
His hilariously cringeworthy characters from the Southern California suburbs range from a daytime drinker thirsty for White Claws to a former star athlete who has never left his hometown to a frazzled Subaru driver drenched in patchouli oil and team gear. Patagonia. Splitting time between social content and stand-up may seem like standard practice for comics these days, but finding a voice in both at the same time is a bigger challenge than Wallace makes it seem. The trick, he said, is to lean on skills that are transferable, like accelerating more quickly to a punchline, even in the free rhythm of a stand-up routine.
“Vine was great because it makes you work backwards to create a joke,” he said. “I thought I have six seconds to tell this joke. What’s the joke? The joke is this phrase, this word, how much time do I have before I get to that? It’s really about condensing everything, which is great for stand-up.”
Creating a fun play or stage scenario also means quickly identifying what works and what doesn’t. For his videos, which are made daily with the production and skill of most television shows, Wallace created a fake TikTok account to test whether its content can make him stop scrolling for at least three seconds.
“You have to face people every time you’re on the Internet, like, ‘Wait, don’t go anywhere, wait!’” he said. “It seems like the street artists in Venice are able to draw you in so quickly because all you want is to see what’s going on. And then you’re like, oh shit, I’ve been here for 20 minutes!
While many comedians in their 30s might have spent a few years finding their voice at this point in their career, Wallace’s journey began years earlier, during his senior year at San Jose State. Coming off a binge of frat boy hijinks his junior year, he decided to focus more on producing Vine content and performing at open mics between classes, hoping to reach a point where the Hollywood sign banner would splash the wall of his bedroom. It would become more than just an aspiration. After college, he moved to Los Angeles in 2015 to intern at the Groundlings comedy school while living in a pool house in Studio City without Wi-Fi or a bathroom. In 2017, he began making videos again on Facebook and YouTube, doubling down on a steady stream of skits during the day while doing open mics at night.
“I think my career is like a fireplace and each video or each program is another log that is lit on the fire,” he said.
Wallace typically spends his time creating social content until 5 p.m., he said, and then switches gears and thinks about his stand-up material and what would work best for a live audience. While some comedians with millions of followers might be content to take the less tedious route of making videos at home, Wallace has pushed himself to be a true touring comic this year with a major 48-city U.S. tour, in part to grow his fan base and sharpen his skills but also build something tangible in his comedy career, he just didn’t know what.
“I feel like I was getting in marathon shape, but in the end it wasn’t a marathon,” he said. “So I talked to everyone I’ve worked with at the agency and asked them if I should film something.”
It wasn’t until Amazon approached its agents at Just for Laughs in Montreal that Wallace really thought this would happen. From then on, with a deadline set, Wallace attacked every city he visited with intent and focusing on honing his finishing.
The result was “Pterodactyl,” a one-hour special that weaved together personal stories, spontaneous crowd work and some of Wallace’s best impressions filmed in Austin, the site of the country’s newest and fastest growing. foot explosion.
“I felt crazy putting it all together,” Wallace said. “You know, I think it came about like when chefs at the end of a cooking show are told ‘knives up!’ When we said knives up, the special came out the next day. I feel like I got it done on time and that everything has a certain cadence and flow and I was very happy about that.”
With a debut television special and success on TikTok, Wallace said he feels like he’s just starting his career even though he’s been in it for almost 10 years. No one yet knows where he will go next. The comic hints at wanting to work on more TV show ideas in 2024.
Before that, fans can see him headlining a show presented by The Times and Can’t Even Comedy on December 16 at the Ace Hotel’s Segovia Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The show will feature a headlining set from Wallace, as well as a live performance. Q&A and a list of opening acts including Cole Garrett, Willie Macc, Shea Freeman and Caitlin Benson with the evening’s soundtrack provided by DJ Kaleem. Considering what has just been achieved in 2023 alone, the chances of a successful new year are increasing.
“Before my special, I felt like I was in eighth grade jumping into high school,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, if they were going to beat my butt or if people were going to give me shorts in the comments. And then it seems like today is like the first week. … I was finally able to check a box, but there are a lot of boxes to check after this.”
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