RON JAMES GONE WITH RON TOUR
Saturday, December 4
Jack Singer Concert Hall (Epcor Centre)
Ron James is a performer who hits the live comedy stage with undeniable zeal.
"I have got a simple mandate," he says. "If the ushers arent wiping the seats down after I am finished, I havent done my job." To him, its important to remember the audience. "They came for laughs, and its my job to rock the apple cart, not to ride in it." Shifting into his trademark ranting delivery, he continues, "The last place a comedian wants to be is as a card-carrying member of the country club. You want to be on the porch getting laughs sporting a pair of snot popsicles on a February night while the rest of them are inside partying."
Yes, James is proud to be a stand-up comedian. The diminutive performer, born in Glace Bay, Cape Breton and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has a round, cheery face that many Canadians know theyve seen before but have trouble placing. Hes a veteran of countless TV commercials and guest appearances and has starred in a series of his own creation, the 1780s fur-trade frontier comedy Blackfly. Last winter, he made a big North American splash as the only Canadian stand-up performer featured on Late Night with Conan O Brien during a week of filming in Toronto.
Like so many Canadian entertainers, James has taken a run at living and performing full-time south of the border. Back in the early 90s, he moved his family from Toronto to L.A. when he landed a spot on a late-night syndicated series produced by Ron Howards Imagine TV. The show was quickly cancelled and James spent three long years under the California sun landing gigs where he could while running up an unholy amount of financial debt.
Once he returned to Ontario, James crafted his City of Angels misadventures into his first one-man show the much praised Up & Down in Shakey Town.
"All I wanted to do when I came home," James recalls, "was to embrace the bigger world of Canada." And thats what hes done; touring extensively in this country with shows like last years The Road Between My Ears, which spawned a one-hour CBC special and is now a feature-length, performers-cut DVD.
Currently, James is touring with his latest show, Gone with Ron. In it, one can expect far-ranging spiels that cover everything from the war in Iraq to home renovations and flatulent church elders. "If theres any theme with my shows," he says, "its of the average man standing in one place, running as fast as he can trying to make sense of a rapidly-changing planet."
With so much to say, James is not one to cut any of his performances short. He displays a Bruce Springsteen-like onstage endurance, and has been known to roll on for as long as two hours without a break. "To watch a comedy special and see a comedians act in just 15 minutes, or to see a 45-minute act chopped up into a seven-minute sound bite, does a disservice to the discipline," he claims. "I just think the way I work and the product I deliver is best served by a longer set."