Trumaine Bradley Finds Himself Onstage

April 3, 2022

Photo Credit

Deacon Poche


Valerie Lopez


Sara Cline


This week’s inter­view is a spe­cial treat because it’s akin to a two-for-one. Imag­ine get­ting to inter­view both Bat­man and Bruce Wayne, or Super­man and Clark Kent, or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That’s the kind of priv­i­lege it was to sit down with the artist for­mer­ly known as Spike Miller”: Tru­maine Bradley.

It all start­ed with a script. A thes­pi­an at heart, Bradley began in the realm of stage plays and screen­plays. One day, in the midst of script­ing, he found him­self con­coct­ing a char­ac­ter with sug­ar, spice, pret­ty much noth­ing nice, and a whole lot of chem­i­cal X. Soon enough, Bradley felt com­pelled to bring this char­ac­ter to the stage in a dif­fer­ent way — by embody­ing him in stand-up; and thus, on a hum­ble Hous­ton stage, Spike Miller was born. Of course, unlike the Bradley we know today, Spike was a lit­tle less Dr. Jekyll and lit­tle more on the Mr. Hyde side of alter egos: Part of his modus operan­di was to end his sets by flip­ping the bird and telling the audi­ence to go fuck themselves.

If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this as myself
Trumaine Bradley (nee Spike Miller)

The thing was, under all that rough Spike exte­ri­or (and behind that mid­dle fin­ger) was some­one with real promise as a come­di­an — a fact that Bradley hadn’t con­sid­ered until he was encour­aged by a close friend and men­tor to drop the whole being-a-dick schtick. And [that encour­age­ment] val­i­dat­ed some­thing in me,” Bradley recalls. That’s … why I try to val­i­date peo­ple when they first start because, in my mind [at the time], it was all a joke … I’m just an actor,” he mus­es, but then I found out, Oh, wait, I can do this.’ So I dropped all the B.S.”

Still, Bradley held onto the Spike alias. After all, that’s how every­one in Hous­ton knew him. It was­n’t until Bradley’s move from Hous­ton to Austin that he final­ly shed the Spike name alto­geth­er. He was ready to be Tru­maine Bradley. “‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this as myself,”” he explains of his deci­sion. “… I’m gonna do this from my true heart and my true spir­it.’” Still, Bradley main­tains that his time spent telling jokes in Hous­ton as Spike Miller was crit­i­cal to his suc­cess. Yeah, I had this char­ac­ter,” he admits, but you can’t fake the work.” Indeed, his comedic chops were par­tic­u­lar­ly honed by tak­ing up a job at the Hous­ton Improv. I was there every day whether I want­ed to hear [com­e­dy] or not. I [was] being sub­merged with the best of the best to come to Texas and do it. … Iron sharp­ens iron,” he states. And that iron espe­cial­ly sharp­ened iron in a three-club town full of fierce com­pe­ti­tion and fear­some crowds akin to shark tanks.

[My new focus became] ‘Why should they remember you?'
Trumaine Bradley

Thus, when Bradley showed up to Austin — hold­ing all that expe­ri­ence in his back pock­et —he was ready to hit the ground run­ning. After all, he was con­fi­dent in just how much work he had put in over the past few years. I was not one of those, like, won­der kids who just start­ed fun­ny,” he explains. I was awful on stage in the begin­ning.” So, all the laughs he was earn­ing now were just that: hard-earned. 

Soon enough, Bradley was tak­ing the stage for the Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin com­pe­ti­tion, per­form­ing his best set yet … only to not make it through. In ret­ro­spect, Bradley admits that this hum­bling loss was nec­es­sary; it taught him that suc­ceed­ing in com­e­dy is more than just being fun­ny. “[My new focus became] Why should they remem­ber you?’” he explains. “‘What do you have that peo­ple can grab on to?’ Because every­body’s gonna get up there and be fun­ny.” And it was exact­ly this new angle that led Bradley to cre­at­ing his sig­na­ture BBE (Big Beard Ener­gy) brand­ing, launch­ing him into a new era of Tru­maine Bradley — one with real polish.

Fol­low­ing this small defeat, Bradley spent two years prepar­ing to make his FPIA return … for the year 2020. Alas. But not all was lost; rather, the pan­dem­ic was just anoth­er piv­ot point. In the midst of quar­an­tine times, Bradley start­ed an online vari­ety show called Mon­day Night Tops, where he per­formed mono­logues, song par­o­dies, sing-alongs — any­thing to break up the monot­o­ny and engage his home­bound audi­ences. It start­ed mak­ing my pen a lot sharp­er,” Bradley remarks.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, after hand­ing out thou­sands of face masks to peo­ple in need amidst the protests for equal­i­ty (in response to the mur­der of George Floyd) in Austin, Bradley fell seri­ous­ly ill with COVID. True to form, this reminder of his own mor­tal­i­ty only filled Bradley with a renewed vig­or to fol­low his pas­sions (while fol­low­ing gov­ern­ment man­dates and safe­ty pre­cau­tions, of course). Soon enough, Bradley was back in the sad­dle and per­form­ing a guest spot at The Vul­can, where he ran into Steve Byrne. Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, Byrne was one of the first peo­ple to ever offer Bradley a guest spot, back when he was Spike Miller” at the Hous­ton Improv. (He total­ly bombed that guest spot way back then, but know­ing that fact just makes the sto­ry that much bet­ter.) See­ing his suc­cess at The Vul­can show, Byrne offered Bradley anoth­er guest spot and host­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty. As one oppor­tu­ni­ty fed into anoth­er, Bradley found him­self book­ing spots in North Car­oli­na, Geor­gia, and more. It was­n’t long before Bradley found him­self on a full-fledged self-made tour.

Feel­ing that he’d learned all the lessons he need­ed to learn from Texas, Bradley began itch­ing to chal­lenge him­self with an all-new mar­ket. He just need­ed to fig­ure out where. Luck­i­ly, the stars aligned yet again to give Bradley a sign … in the form of con­tract­ing COVID, again. You see, Bradley was mid-tour and thus had to can­cel his future book­ings for New York (a wor­thy loca­tion for his poten­tial move). But, he had just come off the tail-end of two life-chang­ing” shows in Chica­go, as well as his first stand­ing ova­tion in Indi­ana. So, I didn’t need New York,” Bradley explains. It was almost like the uni­verse or God or what­ev­er was push­ing it out, like, No. Obvi­ous­ly, this is next. This is what you need. Do this.’”

I'm trying to be a lighthouse for the rest of the world
Trumaine Bradley

The uni­verse, as it turns out, was insane­ly right. Like, get­ting-to-fea­ture-for-Rachel-Fein­stein lev­els of right. Yup. You see, after Bradley’s move, Steve Byrne came to Batavia, and he knew that he want­ed to offer his good friend Tru­maine Bradley a guest spot. Bradley wasn’t exact­ly psy­ched about dri­ving in the snow (espe­cial­ly after a trau­mat­ic ice expe­ri­ence dur­ing the infa­mous Austin freeze), but he braved it regard­less. Once again, his per­for­mance set off a chain of oppor­tu­ni­ties that left him on great terms with the Batavia club, Com­e­dy Vault. I looked on the web­site and saw Rachel Fein­stein was going to be in town … and, I mean, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” he recalls of his deci­sion to ask for the fea­ture spot. Sure enough, he made the shot; and then he straight dunked by get­ting asked to come back and headline. 

Despite all his brag-wor­thy suc­cess, Bradley remains stead­fast about want­i­ng to inspire and lift up oth­er wor­thy tal­ents. After all, iron sharp­ens iron. I’m try­ing to be a light­house for the rest of the world,” he states sim­ply. I want the next Dave Chap­pelles, the next Richard Pry­ors, the next George Car­lins of the world to hear my sto­ry … I want you to think that you’re bet­ter than me, so that you get on stage and do what you’re meant to do.”

As he con­tin­ues to be that shin­ing bea­con, we can’t wait to see how the stars will align for Tru­maine Bradley next. We just hope that it’s not in the form of COVID again, preferably.

Fol­low Trumaine:

Tru­maine can be seen and heard:

  • Lots of shows com­ing up! Fol­low him on social media for updates
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Trumaine Bradley