From sketch comedy to podcasting and the stage, Trent McClellan hunts for happiness and the funny side of life in this in-depth sit down with The Herald
Stand-up comedian, podcaster, cast member of an iconic satirist comedy troupe, from Corner Brook to Halifax and Calgary, Trent McClellan has a mound and a half on his plate.
“It’s a busy time,” laughs the beloved funnyman. “It’s all stuff that you do by choice, but it gets hectic at times and feels like you got a million balls in the air and you might feel like you’re dropping a ball or two from time to time.”
McClellan, who divides his year working as a cast member on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and living in Calgary (when he’s not touring that is), is in the midst of wrapping up season 27 of the legendary comedy series. The reality of growing up a fan of 22 Minutes, to becoming a key cog in the machine, still isn’t lost on the ever-humble McClellan.
“To be honest, it’s still a pinch-me kind of thing,” he exclaims. “You realize only so many people get to be a cast member on 22 Minutes. It’s almost like being an astronaut in some regards. It’s kind of rare air in a small group of people. So to be in that group is just such an amazing thing,”
As is often the case when talking 22, politics in Canada is sure to follow, particularly this topsy-turvy year of elections and mishaps that provided ample fodder for the Atlantic troupe of satirists.
“We felt like we were kind of just racing almost like if you have an election campaign bus and it’s almost like we needed a bus ourselves just to kind of have a bus behind their bus chasing the bus,” he laughs. “Stuff was moving so fast every single day. So it was like just trying to keep on top of it and things would change so quickly, which was kind of rare in Canadian politics.”
RELATED: COMEDY Artist Spotlight: Meet Mom's Girls Artist Spotlight: Mike Lynch Artist Spotlight: Vicky Mullaley
Being a Newfoundlander living in Alberta, the topic shifted to post-election barbs thrown between Newfoundlanders and Albertans. We couldn’t resist polling McClellan on that brief period of anti-NL hate in Oil Country.
“When you step back from it and you take emotion out of it, I mean, what person goes to the ballot box and thinks what is best for the province on the other end of the country? Nobody goes to the ballot box with that in mind,” McClellan shares. “They think about their own life, their own needs, what best suits them. That’s how everybody votes, right? No one in Vancouver goes to the ballot box going our friends in Newfoundland, what do they require in this upcoming election? Like, it’s totally ridiculous. So again, when you pull back the emotion out of it and kind of really think that’s how people vote. People vote based on what their universe is, what affects their daily lives.”
When he’s not sketching in the studio or touring across the country, McClellan has taken to the world of podcasting with his series The Generators, a collection of in-depth interviews that mix humour and real in-depth conversation.
“I always loved it because just me as a person, like take the entertainer out of it, I love good conversation,” McClellan admits. “I love sitting down with a cup of coffee and talking to someone and going deep on something in life. With Netflix and YouTube and all these things we’re all buried in our phones these days. You can make the argument that the art of good long conversation has kind of fallen by the wayside a little bit.”
A WELCOME REPRIEVE
With another season of 22 nearing completion, McClellan is set to hit the road, trekking across Canada with the Hunt For Happy Tour, one that he hopes will serve as a welcome reprieve for audiences from the constant barrage of our often bad-news world.
“I just looked at my own personal life. We all go through stuff. I got friends and people who lost their mom or their dad or people are going through divorces or separations or their kids are sick. And then you look at politics and the world news and there’s war and famine. I think people are more than ever now just looking for a way to be happy,” McClellan says thoughtfully.
“Everything is an attempt to find happiness. And I believe ultimately, happiness is an inside job. It’s your mindset. It’s your perception on the world around you. I think that’s where happiness comes from. But I’ve always believed that you put a bunch of people in a room together, they don’t have to know each other, and someone says something funny and as soon as that last syllable is said, everybody laughs together. To me, that is one of the greatest forms of togetherness, because that means everybody is on the exact same page in that moment.
“What is the purest form of happiness? To me that would be people laughing and laughing together. That’s one of the most powerful things ever. So the whole goal of this tour is the basic boiled-down concept of, let’s all just get in a room together and realize that we’re more connected than we are not, and let’s just have fun for an hour. Let’s just laugh at how ridiculous things are.”