Glesby Centre hosts award winning comedian
Comedian Ron James will be performing at the Glesby Centre in Portage la Prairie Nov. 16. (Supplied)
Ron James...Full Throttle is coming to Portage la Prairie as part of the Canadian comedian’s western tour.
James will be at the William Glesby Centre Nov. 16 to share what’s been described as his “marathon, side splitting, kinetically charged performances.”
“Nothing like touring the snowy west in November... living the Canadian Show Biz dream,” he said with a chuckle when reached at his family home in Halifax.
His legendary pace, both on the stage and in his tour, gave rise to the tour’s title. “When I’m on the road I’m moving full throttle,” he said. “My show is full throttle and I like to keep my pedal to the metal.”
His tour will see him perform 18 shows in one month, including stops in Winkler, Winnipeg and Brandon.
James said life moves fast these days. “I find the world is moving full throttle too,” he said. “All of us are subject to wind burn from all the news that’s coming down the pipe.”
James said he likes to give the audience an honest bang for their buck, which is why he does anywhere from a 100 minute to two hour show.
“I think that’s what separates me from the pack,” he said.
No two shows are ever the same as James is constantly updating his material so his audience isn’t paying for something they’ve seen already.
His material covers a wide range of topics, and James said he loves to offer something for everyone.
“Nothing gives me more pleasure than looking down into the audience and seeing three generations of one family laughing at the same joke,” he said.
Each audience also has its own humour, and James said he finds he can be a little more risque in an urban setting.
“I think you have to tip the apple cart judiciously when you step beyond an urban environment,” he said. “I think that over the years that you perform as a comedian you have to strike a balance between artistic needs and audience expectation.”
That doesn’t mean James won’t take risks. “It’s not a comedian’s job to ride in the apple cart,” he added. “It’s his job to tip it over.”
Political jokes are part of his act, but James said every party is fair game. “You have to be an equal opportunity slagger when it comes to politics,” he said.
While he finds Conservative enclaves are less likely to “laugh at the father figure” there’s plenty of comedy out there right now.
“The Liberals are providing everybody with more fodder every day to make sure that the sheen is off the federal pumpkin and every time the NDP gets the ball, they’re so happy it landed in their lap, they run it in the wrong direction,” he said. “I try to have an even playing field cause it’s my job as a comedian, a satirist to have a little bit for everybody.”
This tour is taking James to places he’s never been, such as Portage, and he said it’s interesting. “It’s exciting to see what makes the country tick,” he said.
He’s also working on a book called All Over the Map, due out in 2019, which will embrace the virtues of people and place from coast to coast.
A proud Canadian, James has never had his career boosted by government grants or private sponsorship.
“I’m happy to say, and proud to say that I’ve strung my trapline from coast to coast without a corporate logo on my poster,” he said.
He expressed distaste for Just for Laughs, who he said is corporately sponsored and gets grants from the provincial and national level despite having very little Canadian content.
“I think that’s shameful,” he said.
James has nine one-hour comedy specials under his belt, plus five seasons starring in his own series, The Ron James Show.
But it’s hitting stages across the country that he likes best.
“My mandate is to lift the load of worry from their shoulders, while I’m on stage,” he said. “I like people leaving my audience feeling a lot lighter than when they walked in, knowing they‘ve had a genuine authentic experience and that there evening wasn’t wasted.”
James said he loves to connect the dots to make sense of the chaos we’re all walking through, in the language of laughs.
“As the world gets increasingly fractured and polarized, whether along political lines or social lines, to get 500 to 2,000 people on the same page with a laugh in the audience... it’s a good feeling,” he said. “It gives me faith that we’re not all that different. Somehow we can find a common denominator that makes us, us.”’
“I love that feeling that the audience and I come away with after sharing a night together,” he added.
Tongue firmly in cheek, James shared his goal for his Portage appearance.
“I have a simple motto,” he said. “If the ushers aren’t wiping the seats down after I finish, I haven’t done my job.”
Ron James will perform in Portage at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16. Tickets cost $55 (plus service charges if applicable) and are available at the Glesby Centre and online at glesbycentre.com/ron-james.html.
-Greg Vandermeulen Postmedia Network