It’s been nearly 25 years since Ron James began touring, and it’s still where the award-winning Canadian comedian feels most comfortable.
It’s fitting, then, that his upcoming tour is called Back Where I Belong.
“It’s authentic. It’s not split up by commercials. It’s me on stage with a glass of water and a microphone,” James told OrilliaMatters.
He has created TV specials and starred in The Ron James Show, which, despite its popularity, was cancelled by CBC after five seasons.
He has performed sold-out shows in venues of various sizes, but he’s most at home in more intimate environments, including the Orillia Opera House.
He will make his return to the downtown theatre March 20.
James is excited to hit the road after a pandemic-prompted hiatus.
He managed to get some shows in prior to the Omicron COVID-19 variant being detected. Otherwise, it was all about virtual events, which don’t create the same dynamic.
“Walking out on stage and just feeling the electricity and atmosphere of the audience was a validation of the life force,” he said.
He knew the time would come when he would be able to tour again, which is why he kept up with his comedy and continued to engage with fans online.
“I did not want my muscle to atrophy,” he said.
The pandemic also afforded him the time to do something he’d been wanting to do for a while: write his first book.
Released in September 2021, All Over the Map: Rambles and Ruminations from the Canadian Road is just as it sounds.
James revisited the journals he’d kept over the years, detailing his time travelling the country.
“It was an almost bittersweet melancholy that I felt,” he said.
It had him thinking about theatres full of enthusiastic fans. There were funny moments as well as poignant ones.
He was fortunate to meet people of different cultures and hear their stories. Some of those reflections are in his book, as well as memories of his time camping with his family as a kid, working for CBC and taking part in the Just for Laughs festival.
“I really enjoyed the process. It was intimidating at first,” he said of writing the book.
It was freeing, too.
Stand-up gigs come with the expectation of rapid-fire jokes and near-constant laughter. With the book, “I could explore the more emotional content of the narrative,” James said.
All Over the Map is “a love letter to the country I had the good fortune to travel.”
That country is, of course, Canada.
He has often been asked about the ability of Canadian comedians to make a name for themselves in the United States. It doesn’t concern him.
“A thousand people laughing in a snowstorm in Canada sounds exactly the same as a thousand people laughing in Las Vegas, where it’s warm,” he said.
Laughter is what is needed right now, he added, after two years of a pandemic as well as other events and controversies that have created much division among Canadians.
James uses his time on stage to weave comedy, his own philosophies and, sometimes, politics.
“If it’s political, I’m an equal opportunity offender,” he said. “It’s imperative for me to give a show of high-octane comedy that’s going to leave people laughing and thinking.”
With anxiety running high for many, “if I can let people forget that for a while, I’ve done my job.”
“It’s prudent to remember what we missed the most. We missed each other,” James said. “I’ve always looked at comedy as a unifying element.”
Come together for a laugh with James on March 20, but don’t wait long to purchase tickets. The show is almost sold out.
Ticket information can be found here.
For more information about James, visit his website.