Ron James really is “All Over the Map” of B.C. this spring, on a tour that brings the acclaimed comedian and author to Surrey.
He’ll hit the stage at Bell Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, June 18, not long after his 2021 book was named among 10 “long list” finalists for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.
The veteran of the Toronto-based Second City comedy troupe has crisscrossed Canada 14 times with his comedy show, which over the years has provided him with fodder for his latest book, “All Over the Map: Rambles and Ruminations from the Canadian Road.”
“I was lucky because I was very diligent about keeping notes in the early days on the road, before social media dominated our lives,” James noted recently. “I kept moleskins (journals). I had two bankers boxes filled with moleskins from page to page. So I had a lot to refer to.”
James’ current “Back Where I Belong” tour of B.C. launches June 10 in Cranbrook and includes stops in Kamloops, Chilliwack, North Van, Sidney and other cities. In Surrey, tickets are $62 to see James at the Bell via the website bellperformingartscentre.com, or call 604-507-6355. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. on June 18.
Like many standup comics, James was the funny kid in class, growing up in Halifax, N.S. in the 1960s.
“It’s been an exponential leap, as any professional comedian will tell you, from being funny in the kitchen and classroom to being funny on stage,” James explained.
In an April installment of ‘Today in BC’, Black Press Media’s Peter McCully chatted with James for a podcast about his travels to deliver laughs.
James takes his audience on a roller coaster ride of comedy, “cutting a wide swath through contemporary culture with a razor-sharp wit, uncompromising standard and unique, poetically honed delivery,” a bio notes.
For proof, check out the videos and podcasts on ronjames.ca.
The road has always been James’ foundation, the place where he learns the most about the country and where he has honed his craft over the years. This long career was interrupted by the pandemic, of course, but has the country has re-emerged into its “new normal,” the touring life in front of live audiences is back.
“I’ll tell you what’s been great,” James told Black Press Media. “Just hearing people laugh again and sitting shoulder to shoulder. Processing the trauma of the last two years in the language of laughs. It’s really great to be able to make a living again and pay the mortgage.
“That’s a reality as well, that a lot of people don’t equate with performers — that apparently banks don’t take a killer set for 15 people as a down payment on a mortgage.”
During the pandemic James worked to keep his chops by hosting livestream shows from his living room, for hundreds of paying customers.
“And you couldn’t hear the laughs,” he said. “In stand-up you got to hear laughs, ‘cause they act as an adhesive. If you don’t hear laughs for what you’re saying you’re just Rupert Pupkin alone in his mother’s basement (Robert De Niro’s deluded character in the film ‘King of Comedy’).”
What was missing was that synergy between performer and live audience — the essence of standup comedy.
“The reward of that synergy is an authentic experience,” James said. “You can sit at home in your pajamas and watch Netflix specials, but when you’re sitting shoulder to shoulder, grunting and wheezing in the same company as everybody else … it’s unifying too. That’s what had been lost during Covid. And look how much we’ve missed each other.”
with files from Peter McCully and Barry Coulter
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