Canadian comedian Ron James will be an equal opportunity offender as he returns to the Kelowna Community Theatre Sunday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. as part of his “Full Throttle” tour.
The audience can expect James’ high-octane two-hour performance to hit the Liberals as hard as the Conservatives and touch on B.C. and Kelowna before moving into universal content.
In a country of only 37 million people, one thing James has learned during his 20 years on the road performing sold-out shows across Canada, is he doesn’t have the luxury to pick a side.
“You can pick a side in America as a comedian and have half the country hating your guts and the other half thinking you're a genius and still have seven times the population of Canada endorsing your work,” he said when we caught up to him at his place by the sea in Nova Scotia where he was enjoying the sunshine just days after riding out Hurricane Dorian in Halifax.
James has performed in Kelowna at least 10 times and loves coming to the valley.
“You know you’re in a different corner of Canada when there's a guy up the road at Summerhill Winery who cures his wine in a pyramid built to the same dimensions as Cheops,” he said.
James is constantly shifting gears when he’s playing in B.C., which he calls a province of polarities.
“In Kelowna you've got your idyllic bourgeois lifestyle, eating organic foods and sipping a Cab Franc overlooking Okanagan Lake and then up in Prince George, you’ve got brides wearing camouflage,” he said.
James uses his razor-sharp wit and gift for stringing streams of words together to hilariously skewer everything from politics to pop culture.
“I like to stretch out a pretty eclectic buffet,” he said, adding he enjoys challenging the audience intellectually as well as giving them some physical humour. “I like the plumber and the professor sitting side by side to be laughing at the same joke.”
James has been able to realize his dream of making a living in Canada after some dark days in Los Angeles in the early 90s as an actor chasing the sitcom dream.
“I just wanted to plant my flag in Canada and make sense of this country in the language of laughs,” he said.
Since returning to Canada, James has had a record-breaking nine one-hour specials and created and starred in two television series.
James’ book “All over the Map” comes out with Random House in May 2021 and includes an embrace of the mix of people and places he has encountered during his 20 years of touring Canada.
While there’s something about being on television or the big screen people equate with success, performing live is a luxury he has never taken for granted.
“It’s the absolutely tangible and supernatural connection with the audience,” he said. “Just that energy that an audience expends and that I expend and we create this night together.”
Performing also keeps him young.
“I'm 61 but when I’m on stage I feel 25,” said James.
Nothing is sacred in James’ performances and he thinks that’s a good thing.
“It's not a comedian's job to ride in the apple cart; it's our job to tip it over,” he said, noting intolerance and hate have no place in the world today.
“You look south of the border and you've got this orange mutant who’s hijacked the land of liberty,” he said, adding Britain’s gone to hell in a hand cart.
For James, it’s worth trying to find a path through the chaos with laughs.
“As the world gets increasingly fractured it's very reassuring to know that for two hours on stage everyone's on the same page,” he said.
For tickets to Ron James visit: SelectYour Tickets.com or phone 250-762-5050.