Toronto comic ready to bring laughs back to music festivals
Field Trip has booked a number of local comics, including K. Trevor Wilson, to perform this month
Comedy and music — they go together like peaches and cream. Don’t they? This month’s Field Trip music festival in Toronto, June 3 to 4, is bringing comedy back to the music environment, including the “man mountain of comedy,” K. Trevor Wilson.
It’s been a while since comedy was paired with music in a festival setting. And although his Field Trip performance may be a tough one, if anyone can pull it off, it’s Wilson.
The Toronto comic is having a hot moment right now costarring in the breakout hit Letterkenny. Wilson is one funny dude who is blessed with a beautifully mellifluous voice that augments his solid stage presence.
I asked him how performing at Field Trip might differ from a regular club gig.
“I think with music you don’t have to be as invested in what you’re listening to in order to enjoy it, whereas comedy, to be effective, needs your full attention,” he says.
“I haven’t formally been asked to clean up my act or censor myself in any way, but knowing it is an event open to families, I’m going to choose my material accordingly.”
Wilson’s career ascendancy has been evidenced by his many awards, including winning Best Male Stand-Up at the Canadian Comedy Awards in 2015.
He is currently the spokesperson for the Moose Knuckles clothing line, and in spite of the name of his comedy album, SexCop FirePenis, he remains a relatively clean act.
He’ll be at Just For Laughs this year in Montreal (and I suspect in Toronto, too), and you can still catch him at various road gigs.
There was an era when comics were more likely to be seen in music venues, especially jazz joints in the West Village of N.Y.C. or the blues clubs of Chicago.
A lot of comedians made their name by opening for musical greats, but the experiment went awry just as often. How about the legendary pairing of Milton Berle and Neil Sedaka? Howie Mandel was booed off the stage in 1978 opening for Earth Wind and Fire at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Some years later, rock festivals started giving comics a space to perform, which coincided with the rise of “alternative” comedy. Nowhere did this work better than at South by Southwest, in Austin, Texas.
Comics such as Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Andy Kindler, and Anthony Jeselnik gained huge cult followings from their appearances SXSW, and comics fought hard to get booked into the festival.
Here in Toronto, Canadian Music Week tried to include comedy in its programming, including a concert with Tracy Morgan, but the marriage never really worked. North by Northeast, our local version of SXSW, had comics performing all over the city, with reasonable promotion, but the concept stalled and the idea was abandoned.
Field Trip is attempting to buck the trend. Local comics such as Nick Reynoldson, Deanne Smith, Arthur Simeon and Wilson have been booked to perform in the Laugh Barracks, an indoor venue at an outdoor festival.
This may give the comics a fighting chance.
Toronto’s K. Trevor Wilson in comedy hit ‘Letterkenny’