Clayton Blackstone: Playing in the Dark

July 13, 2018

Interview by

Lara Smith

Article by

Lara Smith

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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.

I start­ed devour­ing com­e­dy at a real­ly young age.”Clay­ton Blackstone

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.

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Clara Blackstone