After searching for bombs on two tours to Afghanistan in the U.S. Marines, Trey Easterling was having trouble with his knees and needed to find another job.
Coming home to Houston County, Easterling was able to realize his true passion.
“A friend of mine was like, ‘Hey man, I’m doing a comedy show. If you perform, you can watch it for free,’” Easterling, of Tall Trey Comedy, said. “I did that, and I knocked it out of the park, and they asked me back.”
Easterling graduated from Warner Robins High School in 2004 and was unsure of what he wanted to do next.
His father was in the Navy, and his grandfather was in the Air Force, so he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in January 2008.
He became a combat engineer and was selected for the Improvised Explosive Device Detector Dogs program, where Marines are partnered with bomb dogs to find IEDs.
Easterling eventually decided to leave the Marines in October 2012 for health reasons and came back to Middle Georgia. He worked at Geico for a few years but realized he wanted to do something else. He started school at Middle Georgia State University in spring 2018 and is still taking classes while performing comedy.
“I just get to go on stage and have fun,” he said. “If you can share a laugh with somebody, it’s one of the best things because no matter what’s going on in their life, for that one, three, five seconds, however long they laugh, they forget about all of it, and if you can share that, you’re really giving the world something.”
In the past three years, the Middle Georgia community has started supporting his efforts to create more comedy shows for comedians to perform, Easterling said.
The Patio at Rigby’s has a comedy night every first Friday, and the Nov. 1 show will feature all female comics.
“It’s so wonderful to see that we’re finally getting some momentum with the comedy scene because for so long it’s just been me and a select few others running around,” he said. “We’re finally able to do comedy and do it regularly.”
He recently performed in Panama City at American Legion Post 392 where it was an all veteran line up.
Derek Mayer, owner of 98 Comedy and Entertainment in Panama City, Florida, said he scouted Easterling about a year ago at a comedy show in Middle Georgia and booked him to do the veteran show.
“The only thing bigger than Tall Trey was the big laughs I heard in the club that I went to go see him in,” Mayer said. “He keeps it almost like an EKG. You get those little blips, those like little trickle laughs, and then to a bigger laugh, and then when he hits his punchline, it’s tears running down your leg.”
Mayer said he plans to have Easterling featuring for Jeff Dunham and Bob Levy in upcoming up shows and wants to get him involved in some upcoming film productions. He said Easterling has a level head on his shoulders and can deliver a clean show that families can attend, which is rare among comedians.
“He’s going to get more than 15 minutes I think. He’s going to have a bright future,” he said.
Easterling said he talks about military life in his shows, but also about the everyday mistakes he makes.
“I call it military-grade funny because they are normal mistakes and then there are military-grade mistakes, and those are the ones I like to talk about because no matter what happens in life, if you can laugh about it, you’ve beaten it,” he said.
Easterling said he has watched almost all of the comedy specials on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
“I feel like we can always learn from anyone,” he said. “I take a lot of inspiration in knowing what the greats have done without trying to be a generic copy of them. I put my own spin on things because I’ve lived a lot different life than most people.”
He said he talks about everything from his dog, Zelda, to tales in the barracks, but he has learned to improve his storytelling as he goes.
“I like to make people laugh. I enjoy being able to cut up and help people after a long day, week, month or year, just forget about it for a little while. Let’s just live in this moment and enjoy everything we work to get to,” he said.