June 8th, 2011
By Natalie Thomas
Trevor Crane: Jackie Mason’s Modern Day Protégé
Actors might know how to make us laugh, but not all actors can do comedy. Trevor Crane, however, proves to be the exception as he takes comedic acting to new heights and delivers a solid performance in the musical comedy, “702 Punchlines and Pregnant,” written by Ginger Reiter and Sheba Mason. The eccentric title of this Off Broadway musical foreshadows comic relief, but it doesn’t fully prepare you for the hysterical antics, controversial scenes, and the emotional roller coaster ride of the plot that ensues.
The musical, which is based on a true story, is showcased every Sunday at 3pm at The Broadway Comedy Club. It recounts the 10 year love affair between comedian Jackie Mason and Ginger Reiter that resulted in the making of lovechild Sheba Mason. Jackie Mason’s womanizing ways and his paternal pitfalls are exposed and Trevor Crane plays the lead role of Mason, who is presently still alive. I had the pleasure of interviewing Crane after his noteworthy performance to discuss the musical and to get a closer look at the evolution of his career. For Crane, portraying a real character gave him a thrill and presented a new opportunity for him to challenge his acting abilities. “I had to learn more about Jackie Mason, and watch some of his stand up comedy routines; the actor in me likes learning about different characters, especially ones that are real and still alive…that was an enjoyable process.”
It is quite evident that Trevor Crane didn’t land the role of Jackie Mason based on his looks. In person he draws a strong resemblance to the comedian Conan O’Brien, “I look nothing like Jackie Mason at all…but they wanted somebody who captured the essence of Jackie, who had the mannerisms of Jackie, and who could do the voice. Those factors are more important than the look.” Crane learned of the musical while rehearsing for a production he co-writes sketch comedies for. He viewed the musical, liked what he saw, and auditioned. After sending follow up emails, a couple of run-ins with Ginger in the hallways, and three call backs, Crane landed the role and only had two weeks to prepare for the show.
Within the very first scene of the musical, the audience gets introduced to the facetious character of Jackie Mason. Dressed in a crisp black suit, Crane leaps onto the stage with his eyes wide open. His greasy salt and pepper hair (with blond streaks) remains motionless while he attempts to do a little jig that resembles a reject funky chicken dance. I immediately laugh out loud. The obvious is clear: Crane has mastered Mason’s mannerisms to a science as well as his rapid dialect which includes vocabulary words such as, “shmuzzle, and shmuck.” His charisma creates infectious laughter from the audience and undoubtedly, Crane steals the spotlight.
Although Crane becomes one with his character on stage, off stage he transitions into a quirky, witty, yet humble guy. During the interview he speaks candidly as he recounts how much he loved comedy as a kid. At the tender age of 7 years old, Crane wrote mini comedy skits with his brother to make his parents laugh. “I loved entertaining my family and enjoyed putting on comedy shows for them…sketch comedy always came naturally to me, but I also held an interest in acting in musicals.” He started auditioning for H.S musicals and by the age of 24, began acting professionally in community theater productions such as Fiddler on the Roof. Crane eventually started touring with a Theater company called Big Kid Entertainment in Ontario that allowed him to visit schools, and public facilities putting on performances of updated Fairy Tales.
Perhaps what is most impressive about this 31 year old Toronto native is the risks he took to pursue his craft. After two years of working with this production, he decided to leave Toronto to try his luck with the NY theater scene. He only had two friends that lived in New York who guaranteed him a place to stay for only two weeks. The rest was up to him to figure out. Crane remained determined and worked hard, a trait he shares with his character Jackie Mason, “Jackie Mason worked hard to get where he is. I admire his ambition and his drive. He never gave up; he kept practicing which led him to have success in stand up and on Broadway. That’s how comedians have to be.”
Crane has an array of creative projects that he would like to tackle. He is very excited about his recent works, which includes a filmed episode of Celebrity Close Calls, where he plays a young Gary Busey, and his very own screen play entitled, “Roomate Wars,” were he plays a lead role. By remaining open minded to new and diverse opportunities in comedy and acting, he is hoping to expand his career. In the meantime, Trevor Crane is looking forward to his next big break. He takes a long pause as he reflects on what fuels him to continue pursuing comedy, “Everybody loves to laugh, everybody gets a high off of laughing, it’s a euphoric experience if it’s done really well.”