K Trevor Wilson: Mountain High Tales

June 1, 2019


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


2019 Moon­tow­er Com­e­dy Series

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 risqué 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 KTrevor​Wil​son​.com and of course on each and every sea­son of Let­terken­ny!

K Trevor Wilson