As much of a whirlwind of action that his tour is, the on-stage presence of comedian Ron James is just as wild.
Ontario will get to see that when the Canadian comedic legend hits a series of cities between March 19 and May 12.
Known for his quick wit and topical humour, James has been selling out theatres with his brand of humour, which includes laughing at world and local topics as well as people’s quirks.
The 61-year-old Nova Scotian told BarrieToday he often gets asked what makes him keep going with such a fast-paced form of humour, and he was quick to answer.
“Red Bull, my friend. It’s a great thing,” said James. “I’m going to pitch to Red Bull that they sponsor the shows and the drink’s slogan be, 'Red Bull, it’s not just for young guys.'
"I also have so much material to get out of the way with how the political climate is," he added. "I’m an equal opportunity offender, so it doesn’t matter what political party you’re with; you should be able to laugh at it all. Truth is, it doesn’t matter what’s happening with politics because if the world is ending, no one would notice. We’re all watching Netflix anyway.”
Like most Canadian comedians, James tried his craft in the United States and went to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to pursue stardom. It wasn’t until he came back home that he found what he was really looking for.
“It was my pursuit of the American dream that helped me find my Canadian dream, which was really just performing in front of folks and making sure that the money they spent after a hard day’s work was spent wisely,” he said. “I did my first tour 25 years ago and went across this amazing country and I haven’t looked back.”
Up & Down in Shaky Town: One Man's Journey Through the California Dream was the tour that put James into the fore of the national comedy scene, even shown as a special on the Comedy Network.
Despite having several appearances on shows like Blackfly and Made In Canada along with a writer’s job with This Hour Has 22 Minutes, James says he would much rather do stand-up comedy over television.
“TV has too many chefs and I feel there’s no time for anything or anyone,” he said. “It is great for some, and my hat is off to a guy like Rick Mercer, who did it for 17 years or so. And I enjoyed the New Year’s special we did, but I’d rather be able to have time for life and TV doesn’t allow that.”
Through this tour, James will stop in 11 towns, including Barrie, North Bay and Sudbury.
While he does look into each town as much as he can to provide humour that will hit home for some, James references the international current events involving rich people bribing American colleges and universities to get their children into the prestigious schools when talking about his shows.
“Folks pay $50 to see me, so I better be good every night, unless it’s high-end parents paying for their kids to come to the show,” James said. “Goodness, I hope I don’t find out someday that my dad bribed my way into the phone company. 'Here, son, you get your own van.' 'Yippee, dad!'
"That scandal ever broke, I’d be done for. I do try to make each show a little different and research the towns I’m heading to, but I don’t find it all that difficult," he added. "I could drive up that 400 highway blindfolded as I did many a show at Deerhurst Resort when I was with Second City.”
As quick and funny as he is famously known for being, James became reflective when asked by BarrieToday asked how he felt about being considered a staple of Canadiana for many.
“Wow, I’m honoured to even be considered for a question like that,” he said. “There are so many great comedians before me and now that it’s hard to imagine being one of the best. I just go out on stage every night and, truthfully, hope I see people laughing and enjoying themselves, which, in itself, I guess, is pretty Canadian.”
James comes to Barrie’s Georgian Theatre on Thursday, March 21 for a 7:30 p.m. show.
For tickets, which range from $57.50 to $66, and more inforamtion, click here or call the box office at 705-739-4228.
Full Tour Schedule
March 19 - Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, Richmond Hill
March 21 - Georgian Theatre - Barrie
March 22 - Capitol Centre - North Bay
March 23 - Fraser Auditorium, Laurentian University - Sudbury
May 2 - Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts - Oakville
May 3 - Grand Theatre - Kingston
May 4 & 5 - Regent Theatre - Oshawa
May 9 - Academy Theatre - Lindsay
May 10 - Burlington Performing Arts Centre - Burlington
May 11 - FirstOntario Arts Centre, Mattamy Theatre - Milton
May 12 - Aultsville Theatre - Cornwall