5 Questions With Comedian Trevor Wallace
Most comedy fans probably know Trevor Wallace from the hilarious characters he’s created on his social channels (add ‘em all up and the guy has more than 16 million followers). He’s been doing stand-up all along and his new special Pterodactyl drops tomorrow on Amazon Prime. I recently caught up with Wallace for five questions about his special and all things comedy.
You worked the word Pterodactyl into a few different bits during your new special. I laughed every time. How did you land on that name?
I wanted a name that was easy to stick in somebody’s head. I wanted a one-word name because I was thinking about how my friends have told me about specials. “Have you seen so-and-so’s Blank?” I noticed the recurring theme, like the first or last name of the person or like Tom Segura’s Sledgehammer. It’s just a powerful, strong word. I didn’t even decide on the name of the special until after I filmed it. It was up against a few other ideas I had, like Birds and the Bees or Carrot Cake or Spear Fingers, all from different jokes I really liked. But Pterodactyl just stuck. People won’t know how to spell it but they’ll remember it. As long as they have voice-to-text on their remote control, we will be good.
Birds and the Bees was one of the potential names for your special. You talk about different aspects of growing up, the sex talk, the smoking oregano. Were there things from your childhood that pointed you in the direction of comedy?
Comedy was the first thing I didn’t suck at. I was such a chameleon growing up, I tried everything. My neighbor played baseball for the high school team and he did chewing tobacco. I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll do chewing tobacco. Maybe I’ll make this my personality.’ I was always trying what other people were doing — skateboarding or BMX biking, football, basketball, baseball, soccer. I tried everything and nothing really clicked.
And then oddly enough when I was 17, my mom found something from when I was in third grade that said, ‘What is your dream job?’ And I wrote ‘comedian’ but I spelled it wrong, which was pretty on-brand. My mom cut out this ad from my local newspaper that was a stand-up comedy workshop about 20 minutes away from where I grew up. And she put it on my bed and it was a real Disney Channel moment where I looked at my dad, picked up the stand-up comedy ad, and was like “I don’t wanna do this shit.” Anything your parents suggest to you when you’re that young, you want nothing to do with it.
But I gave it a shot and the first time I did it, I just fell in love with it. Like the first joke I told on stage that got a laugh, it felt like all these failures I had in the past finally landed. For someone who never caught a touchdown or hit a buzzer-beater, that was my version of all the endorphins hitting at once. I legit blacked out on stage just from emotions. I'm 17 and it just clicked. I was like, “I don't know what I have to do to make this my career, but this is what I want to do from now on.”
You talk a lot about dating and relationships in your special. Which do you think is better for generating comedy material, being in a relationship or looking for a relationship?
They both offer so much, but looking for a relationship, there's more material in that. If you're dating one person, it's like one-note. But when you’re going on multiple dates, everything is a variable. Like the last date might have been great, but she couldn't stop talking about her ex. Now you’re on a new date and oh, cool, she's three glasses of Merlot deep and we haven’t got to the appetizers yet.
I think being in a relationship gives you deeper tones of real good story. But there are so many funny premises in just meeting up with this stranger after 7 messages and thinking, “Let's see where this goes.”
How did your dad feel about his role in the special? He looked like he was having the time of his life.
My dad is the epitome of living vicariously through me. I love my dad, he’s great. He loves the attention. I remember the first time I asked him to be in a video, he was like “Oh cool, what time do I show up?” He lived his whole life in sales in the bicycle world. He loved it and he's good at it. But there was no fun variable day like that.
So that Birds and the Bees story (ed note: That’s a bit about Wallace’s dad giving The Talk) is from one of my oldest jokes that I stopped doing for a couple of years. But I brought it back because it felt like such a fun piece to put in this. When my dad saw me do that joke for the first time, probably six years ago, he would tap his friends on the shoulder and say, “Oh, this one’s about me.” He loves it.
You talked about being a chameleon and trying on different personas. In a lot of your short videos, you're literally a chameleon doing all these different characters. You even play four or five characters in the open of your special. What’s the difference between doing comedy characters vs. being yourself in stand-up?
I thought the opening intro was a fun way to pay homage to everyone who’s got me this far with watching my videos. But I’ve always prided my stand-up as different from my sketches. I really just wanted to keep the two very separate. When I get an idea, I have two lists on my phone. I go, OK, is this more of a stand-up idea or more of a video idea?
Some people have no idea what I do on stage. They start out seeing videos, they come out to shows and they're like, "Hey, he didn't do any of his video stuff, but I enjoyed his stand-up.” I just want to have the duality.