“Redneck” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you hear comedian Brad Sativa’s material, but growing up in west Tennessee made an impression on him. “I still piss outside,” Sativa said of his lingering redneck eccentricities. “If the urge comes on, man — I’m looking for a bush.” In August, Sativa recorded his debut album “Petty” in front of a sold-out crowd at Nashville’s legendary music venue Exit/In. The album is scheduled to be released next month, with a television special to follow early next year. Sativa will be in town for one night only at The Caravan.
LEO: It’s going to be fun having you come back through town.
Brad Sativa: I love Louisville. It’s so close to Nashville that it just makes sense. All of the memories of Louisville are crazy because your liquor is so damned cheap. They tell me what it costs, I’m like, ‘Make it a double.’ I drink too damned much in Louisville. Shit just happens.
Our 4 a.m. last call doesn’t help the situation.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen last call in Louisville. I’m usually tapped out before that.
What was your childhood in west Tennessee like?
Tennessee is a red state. My county was red. All the counties around us were red. I was raised to be a redneck. The only blue counties were Memphis and Nashville. But that put a fire in me to excel in class and stay in school. I knew at an early age that I wanted to get out. I was raised mostly by women — my mother, my grandmother and my aunties. I learned early that I could get away with stuff if I could make women laugh. If I made my mom laugh, or my aunties or my grandma, they couldn’t really punish me. That really led me into comedy, I wanted to be able to get away with shit.
Do you see any advantages or disadvantages to having been raised primarily by women?
I can read body language. Women won’t say things, but they show emotions and don’t even know it. I learned to see those things. I think that has helped me as a comic, as well. I can feel people’s energy and read their body language. I know if they need to be settled down or hyped up. It’s become an instinct.
You said you were raised a redneck. Have you clung to any of those tendencies?
All I’ll say is that I still piss outside. If I gotta pee, I gotta pee. If the urge comes on, man — I’m looking for a bush, I don’t give a shit. But that came from my grandmama. She used to make us go outside while she was watching her soap operas or her stories. No one was allowed inside while they were on. She was like, ‘Boy, you better piss outside!’
Is it strange being a comedian in a city that is so focused on music?
Nashville is a music-centered city, country music is No. 1, and gospel is No 2. What’s happened in the past 10 years is the whole market has changed here. The demand for country music has changed. There are things like bluegrass and folk emerging. So, people don’t necessarily come here looking for comedy, which is why that comes on us — we have to find an audience. That makes you work harder. And since Nashville is such a melting pot of artists and tourists from all over, we also have to be able to make everyone laugh.
With things being so heated politically, do you find yourself treading lightly so you don’t alienate audiences?
I like to make people laugh. When I write a joke I want it to speak truth. A truth that is so undeniable that we can all meet in the middle. While I may talk about crazy social issues, and I may lean one way personally, that doesn’t mean that’s how I’m going to write. However, if there’s truth in the material, it becomes something anyone can laugh at no matter how far left or right they are. Because if it’s true, it doesn’t matter, you’re going to laugh. And I’m going to keep it so real, you’ll know that it’s coming from an honest place.
You recently tweeted ‘If Donatello is your Favorite [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle] You Must Be the Middle Child!’ What exactly is wrong with Donatello?
[Laughs] Ninja Turtles were my thing! Donatello was the one your mom bought you as a surprise and you had to pretend you liked him. Michelangelo was my favorite, but he was probably everybody’s favorite. Donatello was the definition of a middle child — no one remembers him. He was nobody’s favorite – except, maybe the middle kid.