2019 Moontower Comedy Series
|Photo Credit||Shawn McPherson|
From the moment he begins telling his story to us, the cheerily resonant bass of K Trevor Wilson’s frequent chuckling signals that he has a lot to say, and a lot of laughs in his history, to share.
Now, let’s get something important out of the way early: Wilson is a starring member of the hit Canadian TV series Letterkenny (available on CraveTV and Hulu), and the Comedy Wham staff are devoted fans. So, I’m going to do my absolutes bests not to let the fan in me take over and slips in too many references. Valerie Lopez did a far better job of this when she sat down for the interview with Squirrely Dan himself, knowing that there’s far more to the man than a single on-screen character, no matter how much we love that overall-wearing sweet talker.
If somehow you haven’t seen Letterkenny–and you should, promptly–you may know Wilson from many other bodies of work. The self-described “Man Mountain of Comedy” recently performed at Moontower Comedy 2019, has a Netflix special in the Comedians of the World series, and has released multiple comedy albums. His debut, SexCop FirePenis–try saying that one five times fast, preferably somewhere private–won the 2016 Canadian Best Taped Live Performance award. Sorry! (A Canadian Album), Wilson’s second outing, shot to the top of the iTunes charts when it was released in 2017 and was nominated for a Juno award, and he’s performed in and taken home awards from festivals, like the Homegrown Comic competition at the famous Just for Laughs festival. So, is this flurry of upward trajectory a case of overnight success? Not even close.
Wilson’s journey into professional comedy started early, and not in the somewhat prototypical “tortured soul” fashion. “I came from a very funny family, and remember laughing a lot, being a goofball,” he says of his childhood years. A devotee of fellow Canadian, the late comedian and actor John Candy, Wilson recalls it was at age 7 or 8, during one of his many viewings of Uncle Buck, that he realized that there was a profession out there practically tailored for him. “My dad goes to an office; John Candy goes to work and plays ‘pretend’. That’s the best job. That’s what I want to do,” he characterizes the epiphany.
“My dad goes to an office; John Candy goes to work and plays ‘pretend’. That’s the best job. That’s what I want to do.”
K Trevor Wilson, on discovering the comedy profession
Along with Candy, Wilson had no shortage of influences available, as his formative years coincided with the rapid ascension of stand-up and sketch comedy into popular culture. The Canadian sketch series SCTV, its regional sibling SNL, and icons like Robin Williams and George Carlin were joining the airwaves and putting out albums, which Wilson devoured, memorized, and often repeated, to the chagrin of family and friends. As he sagely notes, it’s one thing to love Eddie Murphy’s albums Raw and Delirious, and quite another to go around retelling the risque jokes as you build your comedy persona.
The television cameras soon found Wilson, as he kicked off his acting career at age 14 with roles in not one but two Goosebumps movies; sadly the first part did land on the editing floor, but he assures us that you can still find him in the second, if you seek out Goosebumps: My Best Friend’s Invisible on Netflix. With some acting under his belt, and before going on to major in Theatre, he also took improv lessons at the renowned Second City with his best friend Mike Park. The two were the youngest ever to participate in classes there, by at least a handful of years. Then came enrollment in the Comedy Writing & Performance program at Humber College, at the time the only accredited comedy-oriented course in the world.
If it seems like I’m rattling off endeavors like there’s no tomorrow, it’s because that’s a common thread in Wilson’s life. Once he knows what he’s after, he wants to take the reigns to pursue and master it. It’s something that may have been subconscious at first, but after years of juggling multiple pursuits, once he started focusing on comedy as a career, it became quite obvious to him. Between his first standup set in 2000, which went as “fucking awful” as they often do, and the release of SexCop FirePenis in 2014, he learned that having a sketch troupe, stand-up gigs, acting, and holding down a full-time job, simply wasn’t productive. “I was having fun but I wasn’t getting anywhere…I realized I had to pick something to focus on.”
Ultimately, he picked stand-up because that was the “one he could control”; as many a comic will tell you, the greater part of living or dying on stage is all in one person’s hands, versus an ensemble or media production. It’s a profession that requires independence, work ethic, and a healthy dose of humility: “I think it’s very important in stand-up to knock yourself down a few pegs, if you’re going to try to take anything else down with ya.”
“I think it’s very important in stand-up to knock yourself down a few pegs, if you’re going to try to take anything else down with ya.”
K Trevor Wilson
But focus will only get you so far, and Wilson made up the difference by working the still-fledgling Canadian comedy infrastructure, cajoling club owners, making deals, and doing whatever he could to get stage time. It wasn’t easy: “Imagine the roughest gigs you have in the United States, and add winter to it,” he jokes, but, interestingly, “the colder it is, the more they need comedy coming to their town.”
The effort paid off, landing gigs and getting his first album appearance on a compilation comedy record with friend Barry Taylor’s label, Comedy Records. That gave him a “reel” to share, and through the connections it opened, he and other performers kicked off multi-city mini-tours, which led to more club doors opening to him, including some that had remained irritatingly closed in the past.
A series of ridiculous but fortunate performances and friendships led to the aforementioned Just For Laughs, where Wilson laughs that–with 12 years under his belt already–he was the most weathered Canadian in the festival to take home the Newcomer award. After opening for Louis C.K. (before the ‘dark times’) and Patton Oswalt, Wilson finally decided to hang up his hat at the restaurant where he worked (and where he still appears to be technically employed, from his investigations).
When I say everything we’ve covered so far is an abridged history, it’s not an understatement. Listen to the interview for even more tales from Wilson on the decisions he made, and skills he built, to get to that “overnight success” previously mentioned.
But we’d be sorrowfully remiss if we didn’t talk about the intersection of Wilson’s on-stage persona and the stoically simple Squirrely Dan from Letterkenny. They share a common mastery of determined diction, with measured pacing and a love of telling tales. While part of the format comes from his love of story, Wilson brings up an unlikely training ground: the “pot lounges” he sometimes played in Canada.
“The potheads [were so stoned they] would forget to laugh sometimes…you knew you were doing well if everyone’s shoulders were shaking,” he chuckles, noting that the experience taught him to read moments of audience silence and react accordingly. The sound of nothingness is something that will shake even seasoned comics to their roots, but for Wilson it served to sharpen his intuition and cadence.
Of course, there are in-jokes–or in-between-jokes?–aplenty where Wilson tips his hat in stand-up to Squirrely Dan, and quips in the show where a “handsome” Canadian comedian is mentioned more than once. For fans of Wilson in any of his formats, it’s a welcome wink and nod, and a sign of his love for both his on- and off-screen personas.
As Moontower Comedy 2019 draws to a close, where should we expect to see Wilson next? There’s four more seasons of Letterkenny to come, and sold-out Letterkenny: Live tours behind and ahead of him. He’s back in Austin in June for the 2019 ATX Television Festival, screening an episode with castmates Michelle Mylett, Nathan Dales, Jacob Tierney (both cast and Executive Producer/Director), and Mark Montefiore (Executive Producer). Time off from production finds him still booking as many stand-up appearances as he can make room for, and success is finally affording him and his girlfriend to focus on building their lives and taking time off from the grind.
There’s gratitude in Wilson’s voice for everything he’s accomplished, and the friends and TV family members that have helped him along the way. The sharp opinions and stories he shares in his comedy are backed by a genuinely whole-hearted man, and we’re looking forward to the next creations he puts his touch on.
You might even say–at times–he’s “super soft”, and that’s just one of the endless things we appreciates about him.
Stay up to date with K Trevor Wilson’s upcoming shows, albums, and appearances at KTrevorWilson.com and of course on each and every season of Letterkenny!