Ron James: you’ll laugh til you pee

By Daorcey Le Bray

"Gee whiz, we like what you do! What’s your name?"

This is the reality of what comedian Ron James calls "the oxymoron" known as Canadian stardom. Even though the born-and-raised maritime comic is an alumnus of Second City Television and has appeared on CBC’s Just For Laughs, Comics! and Made in Canada, he still gets the name question in airport terminals.

James’ success over the past few years is undeniable and culminated recently in his recognition as Comedian of the Year at the Canadian Comedy Awards where he was presented with a trophy known as "The Beaver."

"A little beaver never hurt anyone," he says of the honour, which he suggests "validates the journey" of a Canadian in show business.

His last six years as a stand-up comic will also bear fruit in the form James’ newly-created comedy series entitled Blackfly in which he stars. Co-starring Canadian Colin Mochrie (Whose Line is it Anyway?), the series is a comedic look at backwoods Canada in the eighteenth century and will air early next year on Global TV.

"Right now I feel like a kid who got a brand new bike for Christmas and the folks won’t let me ride it until the spring!" James explains.

While he’s waiting for spring, Ron James is doing what he knows best and is making his first-ever western standup tour, including a stop at the University Theatre. James notes that he loves touring because travelling around Canada is what gives him his ideas for his show.

"You have to fuel the muse," he says. "I love talking about what I experience… that makes my comedy Canadian."

He feels that it’s the collective experience of this polarized country that drives Canadian comedy, and it’s his to job harness that humour. But does he really have to fuel his muse as the thermometer hits the minus 20 mark?

"I’ve never toured the west before, and what better month to see the west than in late November," James quips. "Maybe they’ll dig me out of a snow bank in April and my arm will be chewed off from the elbow down. Besides, November is the comedian’s hunting season. It’s grey and cloudy and windy and snowy and cold and wet and there’s nothing people would rather do than cocoon in the theatre and laugh their arses off. That’s why I’m coming."

From Nov. 23-25 James will bring his energetic wit to the University. His full show will feature two parts: the first is a one-man act called "Up and Down in Shaky Town," which semi-autobiographically illustrates a Maritimer’s idealism to be a part of the American Dream while "hitting the hard wall of reality" in California; the second half will be James’ signature standup that has won him much acclaim.

Comedy is his life, or a "calling" as James puts it.

"I get as pissed off as the next person. I just so happen to have the ability to express it comedically; I guess that stops me from taking hostages down at the mall."

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