Having shattered ties with former mentor Carlos Mencia, stand-up comedian Steve Trevino is gaining momentum on his own, playing to packed clubs and earning himself a hefty fan base the old fashioned way — by busting his ass
Interview and photos by Alana Grelyak
Stand-up comedian Steve Trevino wants to be known as just that: a stand-up comedian. His truthful and often biting approach to comedy will either leave you in hysterics or make you wonder what could have possibly happened to him to make him so angry — especially with women. He had a huge break when he became a writer on Comedy Central’s Mind of Mencia.
But recently, Trevino has broken away from the influences of Mencia in order to build for himself a career devoid of any second-party connections. He doesn’t even have a personal publicist. Here’s what Trevino told Punchline Magazine — among other things — about his recent travels, his thoughts on the opposite sex and his attraction to midgets.
You seem very angry with women in a lot of your material. It’s almost misogynistic. Is there
a reason for it?
You know, it’s funny you said that because some women take it as, “Wow he’s making fun of us; that’s very funny. And you’re right there are one or two women in a month that will come up to me and go, “What is your problem? What do you have against women?” And I go, “You know, my mother and my father got a divorce when I was very young, and my mother gave me away to my father, so I’m sure that psychologically somewhere that’s probably where it comes from.”
My act is also talking about women that are “that way.” You know what I mean? And even though I generalize women to all be “that way,” I know that they’re all not that way, but it’s my opinion and my view, so there’s no wrong way, you know what I mean? It’s not a fact. It’s an opinion.
So it’s your opinion that they’re all that way? Or it’s your opinion that they’re all not that way?
Both, you know. But in my act you would get that they’re all that way. But this is the kinda stuff that I’m talking about. The comedy that I was doing four years ago would have never sparked a conversation like this. People would say, “Hey you’re funny. You’re great. You’re a big party animal” Now conversations like this come up with my comedy where people say “Wow, you make me feel like this” Or, “You made me think of this.” Or, “I think you’re misogynistic.” You know what I’m saying? And I like that about my comedy now, that it gets people a little worked up. People come up to me and go, “Oh my god, you have a camera in my house. You described my wife to a tee. You said things I’ve been wanting to say.” So that to me is more important than just being funny.
Would you say then that most of your material comes from your life and from everybody’s lives around you? Like if you had to give a percentage?
I would say that like 70 percent of it comes from my life and the other 30 percent is observations of friends, of paying attention, of listening to stories, of people telling me “Hey, this is what I went through and this is how it was for me,” and just me observing that. Right now I’m doing a joke about how I feel about David Hasselhoff’s daughter filming her father drunk.
What made you get started in stand-up?
I don’t know. I had a passion for stand-up comedy as a child. Almost since the second grade I was getting on stage and doing stand-up. I never wanted to do anything else. I did what I had to do between high school, and now and it’s all I wanted to do. And they kept calling me — I don’t know how I got from there to here, you know? I just got onstage to do what I did and tried to be funny, and it worked out.
How would you describe your comedy?
The last four years I went from talking about family and talking about my crazy life growing up, and it evolved because I remember comedians would tell me, “You know you don’t really have nothing to talk about because you haven’t lived enough.” And now it’s evolved into this frustration with women. So my comedy has become more real and more truthful, as opposed to “Hey, let me talk about how drunk I’m going to get tomorrow or how drunk I’ve been.” Now it’s more observations on human behavior.
What kind of fans would you say you attract?
If you ask the Improv, they would tell you that I attract the Latino crowd, which is not at all happening. If you ask somebody else, they might say I appeal to college kids. And then if you look at my audience, they’ree mainly 25 to 35. My act is completely different when I do a college. The things I talk about, most college kids have never even experienced or don’t understand the way I think. I did a gig in Los Angeles for a fraternity, and I did a whole thing about how life is all about stories, how stories are so important. And one kid was like, “Oh, so and so has a great story. Wait until you hear this story, it’s so great.” And then he tells this story and I’m like, “Wow, that? That’s a big story for you guys? That’s nothing; let me tell you a story.”
And then I told them my story and their jaws were on the floor because they were like. “Oh my god, I can’t believe you did all that.” It’s hard for me to relate to college kids. It’s amazing to me how many old people — I’m talking about 65, 70 and up — come up to me and go, “Oh my god, you speak the truth. Or, “I’m so happy to have seen you. You’re very very talented.”
What is one of the crazy on-the-road things you’ve done?
I don’t even know where to begin, I don’t think I even want some of this stuff on paper anymore.
What kinds of things did you do before you started in stand-up for a job?
I did everything. I did construction to waiting tables to bartending to working the door. Right out of high school I got a sales job working in radio, which I’m really thankful for because it taught me the advertising aspect, the power of radio and the power of getting your name out there. So I think a lot of the things that I did help me get where I am now.
You play a lot of shows in the Southwest. Is there a reason for that?
My following was built on the road, and it was built through opening up for Carlos Mencia. And now I’m now doing all the places he did. It’s just hard in this market because they pigeonhole you. They say since Trevino is Latino, let’s put him in the Southwest, where all the Latinos are. My comedy is for everybody. I don’t speak Spanish in my act. I don’t make a scene about being Latino or being Mexican. My act is for everybody: black, white, Jewish, Latino, whoever. I’m trying to start going up North and doing well, you know?
Do you think being put in the Latino market is actually hurting you?
I hate to say it, but yeah. Let’s take George Lopez and Carlos Mencia. People say, “Oh well, you’re lucky because you’re Latino and there aren’t that many Latino comics.” That’s true, but at the same time, how many famous Latino comedians do we know? And as of six years ago, there was nobody but Paul Rodriguez. And now George Lopez’s show was just canceled and Carlos Mencia has a show. So literally there’s one Latino on TV as of right now. So you’re telling me in a country where the No. 1 race is going to be Latino in the next five years, there’s [only] one Latino comedian on TV.
You’re involved with Carlos’ show, aren’t you?
Well, not too much anymore. I help out Carlos here and there. I just did a sketch not too long ago but I’m really trying to break away from Mencia and trying to do my own thing, and, thank God, it’s really been working out.
What were you doing for him?
I wrote for him, and I was in some of the sketches. And then Carlos and I just kind of grew apart I started doing my own thing and he was doing his own thing, and we went into two different directions. Plus, I wanted my own career; I wanted to be my own guy.
Does it have to do with the whole joke-thievery issue?
My separation from Mencia?
No. I can honestly say that it has nothing to do with that. It was actually before that all happened, and I just think that I got too big for the nest. I was too grown to be around and it was time for me to move on and get my own career.
Did you want to make any comment on the joke-thief issue?
I think that both of them [Mencia and Joe Rogan] are pretty sad. Two millionaires creating problems for themselves. I don’t have time to worry about what Joe Rogan is doing or what Carlos Mencia is doing. It’s hard enough to write and create your own stuff, much less me worry about what the hell Carlos Mencia is doing, or anybody else for that matter.
And if somebody steals my joke, I don’t have time to go confront them. I just move on and write a new joke. [Laughing] It’s like. “Fine, take it. I don’t give a shit. I don’t have time to argue with you or fight with you.” Is it wrong? Sure. Should people steal material? No. But I don’t pay attention to many comics.
I do my thing and go home.
Tell me something your fans don’t know about you.
[Laughing] Something my fans don’t know about me. I pretty much will tell you anything on stage, and I keep it pretty honest. But they probably don’t know that one of my favorite TV shows is Little People, Big World.
Number one, I love midgets. That’s one of the reasons. But the other reason is I admire the father. I admire his ability to overcome obstacles and still have a positive attitude.
Can we back that up a second, and can you tell me how you “love” midgets?
Oh, how I love midgets? I wanna hug them! I wanna hug them and love them. If me and whoever I marry have a midget, I’ll high-five her and be like. “Babe, we did it! We did it! That’s what I wanted.
So you want to love a midget or you want to LOVE a midget?
Oh, I’ll have sex with a midget. I just find them so fascinating and cute. So that’s what drew me to the show — the midget aspect of it. And after watching it, I really started to admire the father on the show.
So, you’re not married, right?
Are you unhappy about being single?
I’m very happy. I love doing what I do and in order to keep my career moving forward, I have to work all the time. So that is my main motivation right now. I don’t worry about much else, except for work.
What do your fans have to look forward to coming up in the next few months?
We’re actually trying to get an hour special for me — whether it be Comedy Central or HBO or Showtime — but that’ll be happening in the next months. And just a lot of live performances. Getting out there on the road and building an audience the real way — not on Last Comic Standing. There will be a DVD, as well. We’re probably going to film our own special and sell it to a network.
Me, my manager, my agents. We’re trying to get the word out. I just want to do it the right way; I want to build my audience like a stand-up comedian. I want to be known as a stand-up comedian. I don’t want to be known as “That Guy on that TV show” or The Guy from that movie.” There are a lot of comedians on TV that you would never know are comedians, and I don’t want to be that. I want to be the stand-up comedian that’s on TV. I want people to see me on TV and go, “He’s a stand-up comedian, and you can go watch him live.”
For more information, check out www.stevetrevino.net.