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V Wade Takes on the ‘U.S. They’: ‘Clownfish’ comes to Grass Valley

Katrina Paz
Special to Prospector


WHAT: April Fool’s Day Comedy Spectacular WHERE: Love Building, 660 Minnie Streeet, Grass Valley WHEN: Monday, April 1, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. TICKETS: Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Visit http://www.eventbrite.com and search “April Fool’s Day Comedy Spectacular.”

It was meant to be a road trip. Not small by any means – a multi-week, 50-state, explore-America-while-we-still-can adventure. But now Trevor Wade is using the excursion to help spread his story.

Next week Wade and his pals Camen Hodges and Jori Phillips are cramming into Wade’s 2013 Prius to perform his one-man show “Clownfish.” After a year of planning, he sees now it as more of a good career move, rather than an expensive road trip.

Wade has been developing the show for nearly two years, though some of the jokes and lines have been evolving since he was about 17. “Clownfish” was named Best of Fringe at this year’s Nugget Fringe Festival and is described as a “typical exploration of sex, genre, identity and other black and white topics.” Wade considers himself gender nonconforming, or non-binary, and generally uses them/they pronouns. He often goes by V, as is it a less masculine nickname to Trevor.

Wade says “Clownfish” is a recounting of their sexual identity and coming to terms with not feeling like one of the guys. While there is now a third option on most forms and applications (male, female, prefer not to say), Wade would like to break down that binary roadblock of having to fit into any box at all.

The U.S. They Tour will take the trio to all 50 states. Some performances, however, won’t take place on stage.

“Not every state is going to get the full show,” Wade said. “That’s their fault not mine. I got the full show in 35 states; the remaining I’m doing bits, even if I’m just yelling in a park.”

One of the impromptu performances will take place in a Walmart parking lot in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “I figured Arkansas is the home of Walmart and Walmart was very American, so why not? It’s less of a booking and more of a drumming up of crowds.”

Wade notes that they’ve familiarized themselves with rights to assembly, which vary from state to state. They’re not so much worried about the authorities, noting this is what they do for a living. Wade spent several years in New York, and in addition to honing improv and comedy skills, was a comedy barker in Times Square.

Every town on the tour was specifically chosen as a place Wade wanted to visit.

“I want to see the country while we still have one. It’s all being rapidly developed.” They’ve previously traveled to perform specific shows and festivals, but this is the first time Wade’s show is the headliner (Phillips will open). They also did all their own booking and outreach.

Wade is looking forward to sharing their story, saying the national conversation on gender is important and that they have an interesting insight on it.

“I wanted to go to places that weren’t major coastal cities and meet and talk to people and hopefully not get beaten with sticks.”

Wade is aware that some shows could be “weird,” and by weird they mean catastrophic, which excites them. “That’s where the fun is. I don’t want to be safe. That’s boring. I could have just done cities that were renowned for being liberal, but Mobile (Alabama) and Jackson (Tennessee) seem dangerous and worthwhile. I’m not preaching to the choir.”

Wade is optimistic about the south. They perform at a bar called the Blind Mule in Mobile on April 20. The management inquired if it was a holiday themed show. While “Clownfish” does include some 4-20 references, it is not what they’d call a holiday show. They’ll also be performing at a gay bar in Mississippi, “the one gay bar in the state.”

An up-and-coming comic herself, Phillips will be the opening act while her boyfriend Hodges, a childhood friend of Wade’s, will document the tour. The three will post snippets of their excursions on their individual social media outlets each day. When Hodges brought the idea to Phillips, there was no hesitation. “Whenever an opportunity shows up, I’m going to show up,” said Phillips. “I will.”

Phillips is excited about the number of performances. She’s been performing her whole life but just recently started doing comedy and has only performed in Nevada City and Grass Valley. She’s looking forward to a different audience, one that’s “not predisposed to like me. That’ll be fun.”

Hodges hopes to create a documentary about two comics early in their career on their first road trip/tour, noting it’s an interesting view with the current political climate. “We could be surprised in the middle (states). Or maybe not. I’m excited about the culture shock,” Hodges said.

The two might not have signed on for the trip if “Clownfish” wasn’t such a captivating performance.

“I love it. It’s amazing,” said Hodges. “If I had not seen the show I wouldn’t be going.”

Phillips adds that she was in tears of all emotion after seeing the performance.

Hodges and Phillips will not be on hand for the April 1 show. The show will include “Clownfish” in its entirety along with a selection of local comics that Wade knows and loves.

Katrina Paz is a freelance writer and a resident of Grass Valley.

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