It took only one night with The Deplorables Tour for Brian Haner to learn what happens when you publicly support President Donald Trump.
Haner, a sessions musician turned comic performer, says he fielded a couple of concerning calls following his “Deplorables” debut.
Suffice to say they weren’t happy about his new gig.
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“You sure you wanna do this, dude? If you’re out there [supporting Trump] I don’t think we can be using you in the studio,” Haner recalls being told.
Haner didn’t flinch.
“If I was 25 it might be more of a situation for me,” says the 50-something entertainer. “This is worth it. The more pushback you get, the more important it feels. This stuff needs to be said.”
And by “stuff” Haner means joked aimed at the half of the country belittled and ignored by every late night comic.
The jokes are pro-America and, at times, pro-Trump. That approach feels like a form of rebellion against the status quo.
And, in many ways, it is. And, as Haner explains, it comes with consequences.
His fellow Deplorables told The Washington Times that multiple comedy venues blanched at working with the tour.
Some venues don’t mind leaving money on the table, apparently. Right-leaning comedy tours are like spotted unicorns on the current comedy scene. It’s noteworthy that a recent Deplorables stop in La Brea, Calif. sold out.
Haner, also known as “Guitar Guy,” joined the tour following his extended work alongside comic superstar Jeff Dunham.
Team Deplorables craved a variety show approach to the tour, and Haner’s guitar chops could help make that happen. It didn’t hurt that Dunham’s audience, catering to a more conservative, middle American crowd, proved a snug fit for the Deplorables brand.
The tour’s spirit meshes nicely with Haner’s political posture. He describes himself as Libertarian leaning, someone who respects the First Amendment.
The tour’s bigger message mattered to him.
“As long as I’m allowed to say whatever I want to say, I’m in,” he says. “It’s more about freedom of speech than just a comedy tour.”
“The Right gets shut down a lot,” he says, noting both Hollywood and the college landscape are places where conservatives are less than welcome. “We don’t have that big a voice … I thought it was an important tour.”
SOLD OUT SHOW! Thank you California!
Next Stop New York, Ohio, Nashville Indiana, Iowa, Portland and many more!
People on the right do it better! Comedy & Music
— Terrence K. Williams (@w_terrence) January 28, 2019
Haner says he dabbled in political humor during his days opening for Dunham, but those bits came and went sans brushback. Not anymore.
“With this, there’s no subtlety about it. It’s MAGA hats and all of that. There’s nowhere to hide,” he says.
Williams knows the feeling.
The social media sensation embraces his MAGA style. That leaves him vulnerable to attacks from his left-leaning peers. Williams says liberal comics trash him as an “Uncle Tom” and a “sellout” on Twitter and Facebook.
Williams’ personal back story seems both like the American dream and a tale progressive Americans would embrace. He grew up as one of nine children to a single mother grappling with addiction.
“We were in and out of foster care. Eventually, we became wards of the state,” he says. Williams flirted with bad behavior, but he steered his life in a positive direction.
“I didn’t become a statistic or the product of that bad environment,” he says with pride. “I guess it’s just the way God made me … growing up, going through all the hurt and the pain of losing my family, being separated from sisters and brothers. I always wanted better than that.”
Only his conservative bona fides don’t mesh with the typical media narrative.
“If I was a liberal people would have embraced my story,” he says.
So far, the reaction to The Deplorables Tour has been much more than your traditional comedy show.
“People are so excited to finally be able to go out and have fun without some entertainer bashing the President and bashing America and demonizing conservatives.
FAST FACT: Hillary Clinton called some Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables” during the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, saying they had “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic” views. Trump fans turned the insult around, embracing their “Deplorable” status.
The Deplorables lineup isn’t chockablock with pro-Trump sentiment.
“We all have our own style at the end of the day. Some of us have a political take on stuff,’ he says, adding some of McGrew’s material is apolitical. Still, audiences will come away knowing the lineup loves President Trump.
It isn’t just comedy venues resisting The Deplorables Tour, though. McGrew has been repeatedly suspended from Facebook. So has Williams, but he doesn’t live in fear of future suspensions.
“Let them do what they do,” he says, adding his fans keep in touch with him via his email list. “They can always keep in touch with me [that way]. I’m a great talent and a good person. Nobody can stop me.”
Besides, it’s a great time to be a right-of-center comic, even if he’s treated poorly.
“Anybody who wants to be a comedian, this is the perfect time,” he says. “They don’t have to write anything. Turn on CNN and listen to a liberal for five minutes. All the material is there.”
Haner says audience members came up to him after his first Deplorables show and did something most comedies club guests don’t say.
“Virtually every person came up and said, ‘thank you …. we felt so good to be around like-minded people and laugh at jokes we weren’t allowed to laugh at at work on in public,’” Haner says. “Made me feel like I made the right decision.”
“I’m paving the way for other comedians to come out of the closet, show their love for the country, not even just for the president, to come out as a free thinker … and isn’t scared to show it.”