Ron James is a funny guy. A really funny guy.
A conversation with the award-winning comedian is like riding a roller coaster: there are ups and downs, the conversation goes sideways then gets back on track, sometimes you feel like you’re upside down and at the end, it leaves you wanting more.
Such is his comedy show.
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of seeing the Canadian comedian live knows his show is a lot like that roller coaster. James takes the stage with a smile on his face and then, the fun begins.
James has some routines that never fail to entertain: stories about camping in a tent trailer in the pouring rain as a child — “don’t touch the sides of the tent, Ronnie!” or travelling in the freezing northwest and finally seeing the familiar welcoming sight of a Tim Hortons — “a beacon of refuge for the road weary traveller.” Yet every time he performs in Pictou County his show is new, and topical. James prepares well for his shows and knows what the local news topics are in each town or city he visits.
“Pictou. There’s not much happening there now, is there?” he laughs a few seconds into a phone conversation. He is well prepared for his audience — he knows what local residents are talking about and he will incorporate that into his show.
“There’s nothing better than preparing for a live audience,” James says.
He also enjoys doing TV and is well experienced at it, having spent 10 years with the renowned Second City and appearing in feature films, sitcoms and national commercials. He also spent several years acting in Los Angeles as a regular cast member on ‘My Talk Show’ , as a guest star on numerous television series and starring in two television series, ‘Blackfly’ on GLOBAL and ‘The Ron James Show’, that ran for five years on CBC. But he compares preparing for TV to “sleepwalking.” It’s the laughter and attention of a live audience that capture his heart.
“I never underestimate the intelligence of my audience,” he says.
James is impressive with his vast knowledge of each area in which he performs — no matter what the location, large or small — and is incredibly clever with his mastery of the English language. His descriptive language is what separates James from other comedians; there are no gratuitous F-bombs or abusive language. It’s all about rhythm and pace, he explains.
An audience member can get lost in the beauty of James’s phrases and descriptions — if they weren’t laughing so hard at his jokes. It leaves you exhilarated and wanting to hear more.
Born in Glace Bay, Cape Breton in 1958, James and his family moved to Halifax when he was just a toddler. After living in LA for a spell, he moved to Toronto where he lives today.
James loves living in Toronto. “It’s a good town,” he says. He raised two girls — now ages 30 and 24 — there. “I owe a great deal to the city. I learned my craft here.” He has been living in Toronto for 39 years.
When asked what motivates him, the comedy king does not hesitate.
“Motivation? My job! What I love to do. I answered the call of comedy — and it’s a calling, make no mistake. In 1993 when I moved back from LA, I began taking charge of my own life. It was never about fame, I just love this work and to be able to grow as an artist and a human being.”
He chuckles, “It’s a comedian’s job to rock the apple cart and not ride it. I love to see people laugh. Laughter puts us all on the same page.”
James has been a stand-up comedian for a quarter of a century and never runs out of topics to discuss. He says he draws his inspiration from an active life on the road. That road will take him once again to the deCoste Performing Arts Centre on Thursday, Nov. 15 when his Full Throttle tour comes to the Pictou stage.
What’s new for the comedian? He is currently writing his first book, ‘All Over the Map’, being published by Random House to be released in the fall 2019.
“It’s about embracing the virtues of the road; the rewards and challenges. It’s about Canada and the rewards of following my bliss across the country.”
Hear more about it at his deCoste show this week. Tickets are currently on sale at the box office.