Canada’s funnyman, Ron James, is returning full-force to Abbotsford to make audiences laugh until their stomachs hurt with his new show Pedal to the Metal.
He started his B.C. shows on April 21, and on May 5, he’ll be taking the stage at the Abbotsford Arts Centre for his last show of the tour.
He’ll be talking about everything from politics to religion to growing old.
“You name it, I cover everything. I think that’s really important for a comedian,” James says. “I like the farmer and the professor sitting side by side to be laughing at the same joke.
“I cover everything under the sun from the ascension of Trump in America, to the rise of republican populism, and the change in government in Canada, to the last prime minister [who] couldn’t smile [and] to the new one can’t stop, to generational change, diet, health, me hitting the wall at midlife, to my frustration with Bell customer service.”
No matter which city he’s in, James always personalizes his show with some local content. He gets ideas from local media, and from people who recognize him on the street who suggest topics to talk about.
“Sometimes when I come into town, I’m literally coming in three hours or four hours before show time, so that’s always a challenge.”
If he can get there the day before and have a walkabout, he prefers that. He’ll do online research and try to find some element that people may be able to relate to.
“That’s what the comedian does. He comes into a town and tries to connect the dots and make sense of it all through the language of laughs.
“You’ve got to give the audience what they paid for – they gotta laugh. You really have to engage them because they’re all informed, they’re all watching the news, and they’re all trying to make sense of the chaos we’re all walking through,” he says. “I want them to leave my audience feeling lighter than when they walked in, with sore ribs knowing that this guy took some chances on the stage but he kept it in the family.”
Most importantly, he likes challenging an audience.
“I like moving forward to the right side of history, not defiantly marching backwards to the wrong one like Trump and his legions of followers have.”
He likes “to marry the serious and the silly.”
Yes, he will be touching on religion, but says it’s all in good spirit – he went to church his whole life with his grandmother with the Anglican church.
“I’m no atheist by any stretch of the imagination. My buddy is an atheist and I said to him once, ‘I’d like to be an atheist but I’m scared God will punish me.’ ”
In the last three years, James has written three 90-minute specials, has been touring extensively, and is writing a book called All Over the Map about “where I’m from, where I am, and where I’m going.”
“Trying my best and delivering my best that I possibly can do, and knowing that when I leave the stage I’ve left my best game on the ice, it all comes from the daily diligence of keeping a notepad in my pocket and writing as much as I can in order to deliver the best that an audience expects.”
And that work has paid off. He’s had a great career touring the country for 20 years playing to sold-out houses.
James’ Pedal to the Metal show is at the Abbotsford Arts Centre (2329 Crescent Way) on Friday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $55 and are available online at chilliwackculturalcentre.ca or by phone at 604-391-7469.