First Principles

Trav S.D. Playing Guitar 1990s


Trav S.D. n. 1. Travesty…parody, satire, burlesque and the grotesque. 2. A potent hallucinogen resembling LSD.  3. The alter ego of Donald Travis Stewart (born Westerly, Rhode Island, Nov. 8, 1965)


Performer, writer and producer Trav S.D. is the author of 50 plays, 200 published articles, and the book No Applause, Just Throw Money, The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous (Faber & Faber, 2005). A frequent radio guest and public speaker, his voice has been heard on the Leonard Lopate Show (WNYC), The Joey Reynolds Show (WOR), Cat Radio Café (WBAI), and a dozen others throughout the country. He is currently the host of the nytheatrecast, a regular podcast on He has contributed to American Theater, the Village Voice, Time Out New York, the New York Sun, Reason, and many others. His play House of Trash was published in Plays and Playwrights 2001. His works have been presented at Joe’s Pub (the Public Theatre), Theater for the New City, LaMama, the Ohio Theatre (Soho Think Tank), HERE, and, regionally and internationally, in London, Portland, Minneapolis, Austin, Seattle, and Providence.


  • Once worked as a personal assistant for international singing sensation Tony Bennett
  • Has interviewed: Margaret Cho, Bill Irwin, Harry Anderson, Penn & Teller, the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Jules Feiffer, Andy Borowitz, Rose Marie, Oskar Eustace, David Ives, Jay Johnson, Ralph Bronner (of Dr. Bronner’s soaps) Uncle Floyd, and dozens of other unique American characters.
  • Began doing stand-up comedy as teenager, winning a state-wide comedy competition in his home state of Rhode Island.
  • One of his high school friends was Pulitzer-prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri.
  • Was an early co-producer of Tim Haskell’s Nightmare haunted house
  • Never finished college, but has lectured at Columbia University, the University of Kansas, the Brooklyn Public Library, the New-York Historical Society, the Barnum Museum, Makor (92nd Street Y), the Theater Museum, Eldridge Street Synagogue, the Ziegfeld Club, the Moisture Festival (Seattle), and numerous other institutions.
  • Is 1/64th Cherokee Indian
  • Is on the Board of Advisors of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
  • Attended NYU film school, where one of his fellow students was Drea de Mateo (Joey, the Sopranos) who appeared in one of his films
  • Grew up in the area of Rhode Island written about by John Casey in his novel Spartina. It is across the Narragansett Bay from where Spalding Gray grew up
  • His mother’s family has been in New England since the 1630s
  • His father was from rural Tennessee, and grew up in a family of sharecroppers during the Great Depression (true fact).
  • His parents were never married
  • First started using the handle Trav S.D. in 1986, while a student at Trinity Rep Conservatory in Providence.
  • Interned at the Manhattan Punchline Theatre in the early 1990s, where scene partners included Ileana Douglas and Kevin Draine the Bitter Poet
  • Founded a theatre company The New Facktory for Excentrick Acktors in 1992, which became Mountebanks in 1995. An elaborate 60-page manifesto was written and distributed at the founding, excerpts from which may occasionally be exhumed for this blog, mostly for the purposes of ridicule.
  • Is a former altar boy, crossing guard, and hall monitor
  • Does not drive
  • Was born with a potentially life-threatening condition called pyloric stenosis, which was treated with an operation at age six weeks
  • Is the father of two exceptional boys


  1. I just got bounced back from an old hotmail address for you. I hope this e-mail reaches you (I tried looking for you on Facebook and MySpace and to see if you had your own website, and you seem to have left Theater For The New City). At any rate, I really, really loved your book. The information in it would have been enough to make it an entertaining read, but your insights and the sheer elan and wit of the writing just lifted it to another level. Thank you for a wholly enjoyable experience. Like another beloved volume, Luc Sante’s LOW LIFE, I am sure I will revisit your pages over and over.

    Sign me, your fan,

    david rakoff


  2. From this yiddisha mama, glad to hear about the funny show. Hope I get to see it some day. This Colorado girl doesn’t get to Manhattan much. So good to hear your Schtick, Trav.

    Evie ( I knew him when he was making videos and playing poker in my basement during high school – he was born to perform and write)


  3. H’m…not SHYEST prom date ever? (Although I admit I am looking pretty wolfish in our prom photo) Nice to hear from you, Michele!


  4. Under interesting facts I would include BEST (and funniest) Prom Date Ever! Great Post…hope to hear a lot more from you!



  5. Evan Fairbanks, I vow to post your brilliant photos when our worlds overlap, as they betimes do. The pix of us at the David Blaine sphere being a prime example. Or those of one “John Golden Pond” in “No Applause”, another.


    Welcome to the infinite universe. I look forward to yet another venue to soak up your wisdom, your humor, your zest and your inspiration !


  7. By the way, I mean scanDal. duh.
    It is so strange, beccaue I was just surfing thru tv channels, and had been watching M*A*S*H while checking my email. That show always reminds me of you and Matt M.


  8. Well, well, well! Seeing as we grew up together, I thought I knew everything about you! However, this list of facts has proven me wrong! Like, how did I not know about your parents marital status?? (Small town scancal??)
    Great to hear from you- great site. Take care, my friend.


  9. hey trav – great first post indeed! and entering the there-less there of the blogosphere on leap day further evidences your brilliance! i look forward to staying tuned. xg


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