We had the good fortune of connecting with Stuart Preston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stuart, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
The most difficult decision I’ve made in regards to my comedy was to pivot and start telling my story of grief and psychedelics. Grief is what it is, and it’s not often funny. I used to be the clean, jokey-joke comic. Introducing drugs into my material was risky. But making this decision helped me find my voice. Now, time on stage feels more natural. I enjoy it more. And I think I’m doing some good in the world.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been doing Stand-up since 2014. I found my niche in performing clean comedy shows and entertaining corporate crowds for events, parties, meetings, etc. After a few years, I felt this drive to do “more”, whatever that means. I wanted my shows to mean something more than pointing out that In-n-Out burgers have Bible verses stamped on them or that scorpions are scary.
That’s when I started to incorporate more personal material into my set, material about losing my son to suicide, about psychedelics, about mental health. The “more” I was seeking on stage turned out to be raw, open talk about things that society has stigmatized. I noticed that the more I talked about these things, the more others did as well. And as we discuss these things and break down those stigmas, my hope is that we save lives.
The “Stoned Ape” is a theory by Terence and Dennis McKenna about the evolution of humans with the aid of psychedelic mushrooms foraged on the prairies. I, myself, feel like a Stoned Ape.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them out to the Salt River to (hopefully) see the horses. We would visit the Wonderscape art exhibit in Scottsdale. I would take them on a tour of my alma mater, Arizona State. We would dine at Los Dos Molinos, Sal’s Gilbert Pizza, Teakwoods Tavern, and Ted’s Hot Dogs. We’d do a run of some of the local breweries, as Arizona has some of the best beer in the country — Arizona Wilderness, 12 West, Huss, and others. We’d do a wine tasting at Down Time Wines in Chandler. And of course, we’d have to hit the MIM, the Desert Botanical Garden, and the Heard.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This is dedicated to the memory of my son, Ian, who we lost to suicide in 2015. My wife and daughter and I have stuck together and supported each other through this unimaginably painful time. It is only with their support that I have survived and been able to create The Stoned Ape Show and write The Grief Trip.