A Chat with Uncle Trent

>> Sometimes I forget that Rochester has a lot to offer. Since I’ve been working on Floated, I’ve had the privilege to take part in the music scene and a small part of its culinary delights. It never occurred to me that there was a bustling comedy scene happening right under my nose (especially as a big fan of it in New York City.) At the center of it, you might find the comedian Uncle Trent, who is premiering his brand new special, “I’ll Drink to That” at the Little Theater. He’s not new to doing specials, as he released his first one, “Your Mother's Favorite Brother”. I got a chance to sit down with Uncle Trent to talk about Rochester’s comedy circuits, his new special, and how he approaches comedy.

Uncle Trent got his start at the age of nineteen at an open mic. “I want to say that it was a dare, but that’s not true, that’s just cliche. I always had a love for comedy and I said, I’m gonna try that.” Three weeks later, he got up on stage. He found that, he didn’t really care for it at the time. “At the time, it wasn’t doing anything for me. I was still believing I could play basketball.” He spent his time writing comedy sketches on the side. One day, his friend encouraged him to get up on open mic night with him again. He’ll do five minutes, his friend would do five minutes. Pretty simple. Unfortunately, after practicing for a few weeks, his friend didn’t show up. “I went up and did it and I said, ‘You know, I’m actually pretty funny. Let’s try it again next week.’” He did the same thing again, without his friend and then, he decided to challenge himself by writing a longer set. “I wrote a whole set about shit. Like, literally. Shit.” In the same year, he went on to the finals of The Funniest Person in Rochester competition. The next year, he won the entire competition. Since then, he’s been on a hot streak, lighting up the comedy scene and on top of that, he’s looking to make an impact on how the scene is run.

“People sometimes call me names. They’ll call me ‘Diva’. If you call me that shit in my face I’ll put my hands on you *haha* but I believe wholeheartedly that I could make a living off of this.” Trent went on to tell me that he feels there can be a bit of complacency, that comedy is more than just laughs. “I used to go to open mic all the time and some folks are just really hell bent on being really good friends versus working on material. I’ll see some people go nine or ten weeks doing the same jokes, the same exact way. I understand working on a set, sometimes you gotta do it million times but make adjustments to make it better.” Trent also feels there’s a clear divide between what he calls the Coffeehouse Circuit and the Clubs. “When I got into comedy, it was ridiculously segregated. The coffee shops were called the ‘white scene’ and then we had the clubs and that was the ‘black scene’. I built my career in what you would call the white scene or what I call it, the ‘coffeehouse circuit’. It’s a little aggressive to call it the white scene but it’s predominantly white comics. People take their chances and go over to the other side but I didn’t even know that those worlds existed.” Uncle Trent says he never adjust his material, no matter what the audience is. “I believe that bringing the clarity of what’s going on, whether it’s black, white, blue or green is important for folks to see that things are different than what goes on in their house. It’s also important to understand that there’s humor in that. When we take that and throw it in a bucket and say, ‘This is only for the people who understand it.’ I say, no, fuck that, break the bucket open and create understanding for everybody.”

His new special, “I’ll Drink to That” is, as the name implies, is all about things we drink to. “There’s the traditionals like marriage and birthdays but people will find a reason to drink about anything. Had a new puppy? I’ll drink to that! What the special is about is me trying to find the most comfortable place to drink.”

You’ll be able to catch the premiere of his special at the Little Theater on January 29th at 7pm. <<