Comedian Trae Crowder, know to his fans as the “Liberal Redneck,” grew up poor on the Tennessee-Kentucky border. He says he did not know he was poor because so was everyone else who lived in Clay County. Crowder grew up in a broken family and was raised mostly by his dad. His mother was a drug addict who was in and out of jail. He says his sense of humor was not unusual among his peers, who often joked about their not so great childhoods. He was 12 years old when he saw the Chris Rock “Bigger and Blacker” special on TV and decided he wanted to do stand-up comedy. Crowder made his debut in 2010 at Sidesplitters, a Knoxville comedy club.
Crowder identifies as a redneck, but not the mean, racist variety. He quotes comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s definition of redneck as, “a glorious lack of sophistication.” It’s the liberal part of his brand that needs a little more explanation. Crowder was raised mostly by his father who was not religious. His mother’s family were religious and he went dutifully to church and Sunday school as a child. The church was fundamentalist and one of the many sins condemned from the pulpit was homosexuality. This presented a problem for Crowder, who was very close to his father’s brother, who was gay and had a male partner. When Crowder was told that his beloved uncle Tim, “the sweetest person in the world,” was going to “burn in hellfire for all eternity” for the sin of being gay, he decided for himself “if that’s how your god operates I don’t want anything to do with it.” He attributes his break from fundamentalist Christianity as giving him clarity to see social issues more clearly. He became a liberal because he felt that liberals were far more interested in the plight of the poor.
Crowder is best known for his recent video commentaries on YouTube. He takes on the political issues of the day whether it is the Tennessee State legislature voting The Bible as the official State Book or the backlash directed at Target for their transgender bathroom policies. The language in Crowder’s videos is for an adult audience.
Crowder will be appearing at Atlanta’s Punchline Comedy Club on Sunday, May 22, with fellow liberal rednecks Cory Ryan Foster and Drew Morgan as part of their wellRED tour. The 7 p.m. show is sold out, but there are still seats available for the 9 p.m. show.
Franklin Abbott is an Atlanta psychotherapist and consultant, writer and community organizer.