FUNNY GUY -

Ron heading back to Red Deer

Red Deer fans just can’t get enough of Canada’s busiest funny guy Ron James.

He’s playing two shows at the Memorial Centre Nov. 20 and 21.

Showtime is 8 p.m.

He was last in town back in 2008 and ended up putting in six shows. The tour before that, demand was so great he performed five times.

These days James isn’t slowing down one bit — with five TV specials under his belt and The Ron James Show charging into its second season on CBC, he is now hitting the road with a new gig entitled Ron James….Live!

It’s a change of pace from the TV show, but he’s clearly thrilled with how his experience on the small screen is shaping up.

“It’s been great, and the numbers continue to climb,” he says during a recent chat from his Toronto office.

“This year we’ve made the tweaks necessary to give the show stronger legs. The real challenge for me was how do I lay claim to a little corner of TV when comedy in Canada has such a tradition of being political?”

That said, James was careful not to tread on Rick Mercer’s comic territory or veer into resembling the styles of the iconic Royal Canadian Airfarce. He wanted to bring a fresh originality to Canadian TV.

“I really wanted to touch on the issues affecting the little man in broad strokes.”

Being on TV regularly for a series has been a bit of an adjustment. For one thing, it’s a demanding schedule.

“It’s a seven day a week gig, no doubt about it,” he says. “But the intimacy of the audience feels like the clubs I used to play.”

James is indeed a master at weaving a ‘verbal tapestry of trademark laughs’ tapping into every topic from ‘twenty-something tattooed techno-geeks to the mid life angst of whiny, again baby boomers’.

Currently, he’s looking forward to hitting the stage and trying out a slew of fresh material.

“It’s really important to get on the road, because that’s where I really test my material and fuel my muse.”

Whether it’s Canada’s national blood sport of contemporary politics or family stories stretching back to the 1960s, Ron James….Live! has something to tickle pretty much any funny bone.

James takes his role as performer very seriously, noting that folks expect a certain kind of product from him.

“I want the audience leaving feeling like they’ve got a good bang for their buck.”

Over the years, James has been showcased at the Halifax Comedy Festival, Just for Laughs on The Comedy Network and CBC’s Madly Off in All Directions.

He was born in the coal-mining town of Glace Bay, Cape Breton and raised in Halifax. After graduating from Acadia University in 1979, he settled in Toronto and studied improvisational comedy at Second City.

He later appeared in everything from Home Hardware commercials to corporate training films.

Tinseltown beckoned in the early 1990s, so He headed to Los Angeles at the invitation of Ron Howard’s company Imagine TV.

James was to join the series My Talk Show, but it was cancelled.

He headed back to Toronto where he penned and performed his first one-man show about his time in LA called Up and Down in Shakey Town.

In the late 1990s, he was a regular on Made in Canada, wrote for This Hour Has 22 Minutes and was voted Comedian of the Year at the Canadian Comedy Awards in 2000.

James has also enjoyed popular and coast-to-coast acclaim for his four 60-minute specials for CBC — The Road Between My Ears, Quest For The West, West Coast Wild and Back Home.

His solid commitment to crafting relevant, solid shows keeps them coming back.

“If I didn’t feel like I’d given the audience the show they had paid for, I’d be disappointed. And there was a time when I went through a long period of unemployment.

“I made a promise to myself that if I ever got to do this kind of work and make a living at it, I would never just mail a performance in. I just love the work – it’s the best.

“Nothing takes the place of performing onstage.”

For tickets to his Red Deer stint, call 403-755-6626 or visit www.bkticketcentre.ca.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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