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L.A. Beat

Ron James — a man of a million words and a million laughs

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Ron James is a smart man who uses a lot of million dollar words in his comedic routines. More than likely you’ve seen his stand up routine on the Comedy Channel and on his popular new CBC television show.

But more importantly, he is a funny man who will be bringing the funny back to the Yates centre for two shows, Dec. 4-5.Ron James comes to the Yates Centre, Dec. 4-5. Photo Submitted
“I just flew into Calgary and now I’m wrapped up in blankets protecting myself from this Venusian  cold,” noted James in an early morning interview during a November cold snap, kicking off an amicable  half hour conversation covering everyone from  the sold out crowd bundled up and shivering through the CFL Western Finals, the fall of the American dream, to how complacent Canadians are in their deference to authority, to why Bob Saget can fill concert halls and a lot f Canadian comedians can’t.

“ I went to a public school and then got a bachelors degree in history from university. I graduated with a  BA in history and a minor in binge drinking. But university is also where I learned how to communicate as well started my belief that I could be an actor,” he said adding he honed his comedic craft with the renown Second City improv comedy troupe in Toronto.

“I learned that if I was going to be a success, I’d have to do it on my own, not as part of some group,” he said adding in 1993, he also spent three years in Los Angeles  working on a sitcom that ended up failing, but it  gave him plenty of grist for the comedic mill, which was incorporated into his first comedy special.

“ I just like how language trips off your tongue. I make observations. But you always try to remember what the audience is paying for — and that’s laughter,” he continued.

“I like to tell stories, but  what you don’t realize  is how well crafted they are because you lose yourself in the story,” he continued adding he loves coming out west, mainly because one of his first comedy specials was “Quest For the West.”
“It’s always fun going to Alberta  and talking about Tories. Alberta is only province where the only opposition to a conservative party is another conservative party,” he observed adding he was impressed with how many people bundled up to go to the Western finals CFL football game.

In addition to a rapid fire wit and extremely descriptive delivery, he also tends to avoid profanity  in his routine, though he isn’t afraid to get political to get the audience thinking as well as laughing.

“I try to steer clear of profanity. I get more satisfaction in the delivery of telling a story. I save  the profanity for impact rather than peppering it through the  story, but I admire the way people like Billy Connelly can do that,” he said adding storytelling comes naturally as he grew up in a Maritime home, where his family’s kitchen was always the centre of activity for their neighbours.

“I was always a funny person. Or rather people told me I was a funny person. So it grew organically,” he said adding he hopes his experiences are universal enough for people to laugh at no matter where they come from.

“I’ve seen people from Kenya to Nigeria in the audience laughing at  about an experience  I had in Cape Breton in 1966.”
He played Lethbridge two years ago and expects to perform 70-80 per cent  new material in this show.
“I shoot for 70 per cent. There’s lots to talk about. I just turned 52, and lots of people are getting older, so there is a lot about that,” he said as his iPhone loses connection while he takes another call.

“And there’s a lot about technology. I still haven’t figured this thing out,” he said.
“If people come away from the show thinking about things differently and laughing, then I’ve done my job,” he said adding he admires comedians like David Broadfoot , Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, who weren’t afraid to push the envelope.

He is also happy with  how well his television show, the Ron James show is doing.
“It’s been phenomenal,” he said adding he doesn’t know if it will be renewed for next season.

“I wanted to do something a little different,” he said adding the show combine sketches with stand -up comedy bits, mostly the observational material he does already as well as a little politics.

“I didn’t just want to rely on politics for it because Rick Mercer and this Hour Has 22 Minutes already does that really well,” he continued.

“Creativity is subverted a little bit when you’re shooting a show for TV. It’s a different theatre, but on stage there is a lot more freedom,” he said.
“ You can go out there and you can say what you want, but you have to be able to back it up,” he continued adding with all of his different projects, he doesn’t get back home much.
“Not nearly enough. But after this tour I will be going home. My 79-year-old father got himself a three or four point buck, so I’m going to go home and sit in that old kitchen and eat deer meat.”

Tickets for the shows cost $54 each. The show begins at 8 p.m. each night.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

A version of this story appears in thr Dec. 1 Lethbridge Sun Times

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