DELRAY BEACH – Steve McGrew doesn’t attempt to obfuscate his conservative political views.
He’s perfectly willing, even eager, to say what most comedians won’t – even when they share his mindset.
It’s one of the reasons that, following Tuesday’s headlining set, McGrew couldn’t help but smile when an alert on his phone confirmed that Donald Trump had announced his 2024 candidacy for president.
“I think he exposed so much stuff,” McGrew said of Trump. “All of us now are going, ‘The media really is screwed up.’ And then you hear people say, “How long did we believe them? How long have we been like this? I think it was a very eye-opening thing.”
With blonde hair that stretches well beyond his shoulders and a full beard, McGrew looks the part of a 1970s hippie. The 66-year-old, however, never bought into their political philosophy.
To get an idea how deeply McGrew’s conservatism runs, simply peruse his Twitter account. Well, his current account, anyway.
McGrew lost his first Twitter account, and 113,000 followers, in 2018 when a tweet about those midterm elections suggested, with easily recognizable hyperbole, tearing down the Democratic Party headquarters and salting the ground to ensure it doesn’t regenerate.
His new account, @Remasculate, is equally salty. Now boasting more than 40,000 followers, recent tweets include humor-infused political polls, Trump dancing, and praise of Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform.
He drew the ire of many with a suggested Paul Pelosi Halloween costume that entailed tighty whities and a hammer – a nod to the slow, often confusing, release of facts concerning the late-October attack on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband. The tweet went viral with the help of a Donald Trump Jr. retweet.
“It’s a fucking joke,” said Dougie Almeida, co-headliner on Tuesday’s show. “The Pelosis are cartoon caricatures in our world. You have to be able to make comments about that.”
Politically conservative comics aren’t as rare as late night talk show bookers make it seem. For years comics who skewed to the right kept their politics to themselves out of fear of losing bookings – or worse – in the liberal-dominated showbiz scene.
McGrew doesn’t hold back – and it’s cost him more than a Twitter account. A former newspaper cartoonist and country music morning DJ with multiple comedy albums and specials on his resume, McGrew says he lost out on his own HBO special in the 1990s after taking one too many shots at then President Bill Clinton.
Despite the setback, McGrew doesn’t self-censor.
“I love the fact that somebody can speak their fucking mind without the worry or concern of recourse,”Almeida said. “How many people would love to say things but they hold back because of mob rule? But [McGrew] doesn’t give a shit.”
So, yes, McGrew has opinions. And he’s not shy about sharing them. He was an early conductor on the Trump train.
“People were like, ‘You’re going to kill your career. You’re going to lose fans and followers,’” McGrew said. “I lost maybe 50 people – and gained 100,000.”
But comedy fans hoping McGrew’s live shows will morph into a pro-Trump rally or a secret QAnon ceremony will likely be disappointed.
“People know me from Twitter, but they come to the show and leave more of a stand-up fan,” McGrew said.
During Tuesday’s headlining set at Delray Beach’s Turtle Tavern, McGrew offered only one political joke – and that came as an improvised aside. In response to an audience comment that the Dollar Tree should now be called the Dollar-25-Cent Tree, McGrew thanked President Joe Biden for the gift of inflation.
The remainder of the Oklahoma-native’s set featured high energy jokes about being a southerner, married life and other oddities relatable to folks, regardless of their politics. His set had the sold out crowd laughing, applauding and generally rocking.
“For the most part I believe comedy should just be comedy. There’s no reason to really divide,” McGrew said. “I believe in making fun of everything. I consider myself an equal-opportunity offender. If I make fun of myself, I make fun of you, you, and you, then it wasn’t like I was picking on a group or whatever.”
McGrew does have an entire set of political humor to draw from, but he’ll usually save that material for events that are specifically political in nature, such as fundraisers.
Those looking to catch McGrew in person can do so Wednesday night at the Tavolino Della Notte in Coral Springs. South Florida comics John Loveless and Riley Edwards are also scheduled to perform, with Almeida serving as host. Tickets for the 8:15 p.m. show are $50 and include dinner.
Afterward, McGrew sets sail as part of his recurring gig on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
Those who can’t make his shows, or anyone who simply wants to know what Steve “Mudflap” McGrew is thinking at any given time, should be able to locate him on social media – including Trump-backed Truth Social.
A constant social media poster, McGrew finds the platforms useful for developing new material.
“I use twitter as my writing tablet,” McGrew said. “If I write a joke, I know that’s the punchline. Sometimes all I have to do is create a bit to go with it.”
It’s also a great way to occupy his mind.
“When you only work an hour a night, all day long your brain is like – especially if I see something – I want to make fun of it,” McGrew said.