|Photo Credit||Will Branch|
I am one of those people that loves a happy sounding song with very dark lyrics. It’s a paradox that sort of plays a trick on the brain. In the middle of my interview with Clayton Blackstone, it dawned on me that that is the characteristic I love most about his comedy style. Our own Valerie Lopez described his humor as dark, but playful. He can deliver a joke that many comedians might get a cringe or a sympathetic sigh from, but Blackstone gets a roar of laughter. Why? Get to know him, and you will find that behind that dark humor, there’s a genuine loftiness with many shades of optimism.
Clayton Blackstone grew up in Corpus Christi. From an early age the desire to perform and create was already obvious. In middle school, he and his friends started a rap group and would write their own lyrics. Comedy came even earlier; Blackstone says, “I started devouring comedy at a really young age.” He would listen to Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall, and remembers buying as many Def Comedy Jam DVD’s as he could find. There was not a lot of censorship in his household, so his options were wide open. Blackstone recalls, “I grew up watching South Park and Adult Swim and I think that informed a lot of who I became to some extent. I feel like Trey Parker and Matt Stone were like my two gay dads…they gave me the lessons my parents did not.”
After some community college in Corpus Christi, Blackstone saved up, transferred to Austin Community College, and made the big move, with the intention of being some sort of avant-garde performer. Going from the small coastal city to Texas’ larger and more eclectic Capital was admittedly a culture shock for Blackstone. He was twenty-one at the time and soon realized that itch to perform would be scratched through comedy.
Unsure where to begin, Blackstone went to a comedy meetup group, rather than the somewhat more traditional open mic. By the end of the meetup, still not knowing how to pursue this endeavor, the meetup organizer told him he was good and just needed to do it. Not realizing that comedy required more practice than just writing, he would get frustrated with the open mics. One day, it finally clicked that pursuing an English degree would not result in a comedy career and he left the books behind for the open mics.
Blackstone has learned through trial and error that his jokes are best received when they come from a place of truth. His aspirations to do silly characters would fall flat, while his jokes based in real-life stories and pain were always what hit with an audience. He learned that the marriage of silliness and dark truth was the perfect formula for his comedy voice.
That voice has served him well this year as he advanced to the 2018 FPIA Semifinals and show bookings have been coming ever since. His musings on drugs, family, and sexuality bring you on a relatable and empathetic tour of his life. Blackstone can walk you into the dark places, with the comfort of knowing it gets better and it’s okay to laugh.