Travon Free is an American comedian and actor who currently writes comedy for The Daily Show on Comedy Central. He won an Emmy Award for his work on the Daily Show in 2015. He is a former college basketball player.
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Hey everybody I'm Travon Free, a comedian and writer for HBO's "Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons." I wrote for "The Daily Show" from 2012 to 2016 and won an Emmy in 2015. I have also been featured on "Tosh.0", "Chelsea Lately", and "The Gentlemen's Rant" Web series among others. Ask me your questions about comedy...pizza....the truth about building 7. Also, let's talk about fight club!
EDIT: Thanks for the questions Reddit! I'm out!
What is typically in a writing package? How do you get it to someone appropriately? (e.g. to prevent it getting plagiarized, or tossed in the garbage because they don't want to be accused of plagiarism)
it varies by show. Most dont take unsolicited packets to not be accused of stealing work. but it's usually a sample version of whatever show you want to submit for.
Is building a social media following important to demonstrate that you write material that people like and will seek out?
it didnt use to be important. Now movie and tv studios are seeking out larger followings which is a terrible idea IMO. But if you want to work in a field that requires people to know who you are, I would say use social media to your advantage.
Does a writer in your position typically work a single job, or is it a matter of piecing together a living through a few different gigs?
in my current position, I make a living from AGW on HBO and stand up and it pays well enough to only have to do that. In the beginning you do a lot more piecing together until you get staffed somewhere.
How often are you asked to speak for an entire 'community' like that in your professional life?
way too much. a product of the lack of minorities in film and television. Often times people dont realize theyre doing it but I've been the only black writer in the room many times.
How long does it take you to write a joke? Is it a knee-jerk thing that has to hit you while reading through the paper, or do you say to yourself, 'I need 10 Brexit jokes' and sit down and work on them until they are done?
actually it works like a muscle. Since most of my waking days are spent literally thinking of jokes, it becomes really easy to get to funny more original jokes faster. But things like twitter make it harder so you have to think past the first five immediately obvious ones. But if I needed 10 brexit jokes i could probably bang it out in 15-20 minutes. But 3 of them would be worth using.
How does a rookie writer get appropriate representation? If you write well, will they seek you out?
catch 22. Agents typically want people who are working or able to get work and you also need them to be able to get work. Sucks! But if you build it they will come. That's how it happened for me.
Were you there when Wyatt Cenac and Jon Stewart had their infamous interaction about the Herman Cain impression?
i got there right after it happened. That would have been awkward if i had to be the deciding black vote.
Is there something you wrote that went on air and you immediately regretted it?
nope. there's so many people a script has to go through to see the light of day that it would be hard to. I usually try to get things on the air that i'm passionate about so it's least likely to happen.
What's it like to hold an Emmy?
the best fucking feeling in the world. Especially the night you win. Ticket to every party in LA.
What would you be doing if you weren't a comedian? Also, what is your favorite kind of pizza?
i'd probably work in music. I would discover the next Bieber and then immediately regret it. Favorite pizza is all of it.
What would you say is the single funniest joke you have ever written?
jesus that's tough. One that immediately comes to mind is one for Jessica Williams on The Daily Show during a bit with her and Jon about Stand Your Ground Laws. "Stand your ground is like bleach, it works great or whites but it'll ruin your colors". Also maybe drone steph curry joke from this year's WH Correspondents Dinner. That one pissed people off.
Have you tried smores pizza?
that sounds like an abomination. Where do i get it?
Do you confirm or deny that Building 7 is actually Building 6 in disguise?
my Illuminati ambassador says I'm not allowed to answer. (it's exactly what you think)
"Any Given Wednesday" is airing now on HBO. What's great about it, and why should I tune in? :D
Bill is a master of his domain and deserves your undivided attention!
Who's the most famus person you know?
i know a lot of famous people. Jon Stewart or Dave Chappelle probably.
How's Bill handling the Celtics terrible draft?
he's been trying hard not to cry around the office.
How cool was Jessica Williams at the Daily Show?
like a sister to me. Miss her dearly. She's one of the most talented people i know!
What's the trasition like from the daily show to AGW? And do you like writing for AGW more because of the it's subject matter?
it's way less work doing one show a week but I love politics so much I miss working there. I text Trevor ideas every now and then trying to hang on to the past.
Are you going to appear on anymore ringer podcasts soon?
yep we're starting one for the AGW writers and whatever sports ones that come up that they ask me to be on. And I have my Hamilton Podcast of course.
Been a fan since your 'Banned Apple commercials' on the oojleoo channel. Gonna check out Any Given Wednesday pretty soon.
What's it like moving from Comedy Central to HBO? Are you given much more freedom with the material you write? And what about the switch from a political satire show to a more sports based series? Thanks.
it's been great. I'm lucky to have gone from one great place to another in HBO. I do have a lot more creative freedom working for Bill which I enjoy. I can never shake politics and I'm always thinking of ideas we can never use on Bill's show but sports pop culture and politics couldnt be better to write about for me.
In your opinion, what will be better about the second episode of AGW compared to the first? How do you see it continuing to evolve and improve over time?
we have so many great written pieces and ideas for things coming down the line. Unfortunately we only get to share them once a week so it'll take longer to see the evolution of the show versus a 4-5 night a week new program that gets to define itself much quicker. I think you'll like what's coming!
What's a joke from the Daily Show that you thought was hilarious, but didn't air?
I have a box of scripts in the closet at my apartment with hundreds of them!
Do you travel much in your free time? Any place in particular you really want to go to? Also, do you have a bucket list? You seem like someone who has a very fun, bizarre bucket list. Thanks for doing this!
I try to take at least one trip abroad a year but might not be able to this year because of the AGW production sched. I want to get to Fiji, Greece, and Turkey asap though. My bucket list includes things like having a beer with Zac Brown, singing popular with Kristen Chenoweth (might happen next month!) winning an Oscar, and working with Lin Manuel Miranda.
Do you still play basketball? Also I heard you have a ton of shoes, what are your favorites and why are they the georgetown colorway of the 11's?
i have about 250 pairs (holla at me Nike!) but my favorite are the Jordan 11 Space Jam. They release again this december and i already bought two pair!
Who are some of your favorite writers to work with?
the people in the credits when the daily show ends. Some of the funniest smartest people working in television. The correspondents too. They dont get writing credits but theyre all really talented writers too.
Do you have any tips for finding pitch opportunities for an original comedy series? The project's current form is a web series but we're developing a traditional 30 min pilot now.
this would be a really long answer, but the short version would be to get to LA and network like crazy. It's really hard to get a script in front of the people who can actually help you if you dont have an agent so you gotta be where they eat, sleep, drink, party, and greenlight.
How many points did you average in high school and what was your go-to move?
freshman year 30pts, sophmore year I was back up to Tyson Chandler so not many, junior year 16, senior year 25. i was a good shooter for a forward/center but it was mostly a solid hook shot.
Will we see any more gentlemen's rant?
we've been back for a month. put out a new one yesterday. tell your friends!
Would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or a hundred duck-sized horses?
i wear a size 16 shoe. Bring on the duck sized horses.
Here's an ridiculously general question; how does someone even get starting doing what you do? I know that I love to make people laugh more than anything, but I don't think I'm actually good enough at it to earn a living doing it. Assuming I was delusional enough to think I could, I wouldn't know where to start.
start by living in LA or NY. Then get to comedy clubs and open mics if you want to do stand up. A lot of tv writers and producers hang at the clubs so if youre good they will take notice.
What do you think of George Carlin?
one of the reasons I started doing comedy. Listened to him religiously.