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Movie Mom

Interview: Ron Pearson of ‘Apostles of Comedy’

posted by Nell Minow

Ron Pearson of the new DVD Apostles of Comedy answered some of my questions about his tour. Pearson starred for several years on “Malcolm & Eddie,” guest starred on “The Drew Carey Show,” “Two Guys and a Girl,” “The George Lopez Show,” and appeared in a recurring on “That 70s Show.” As a comedian Ron has made numerous late night appearances from “The Late Late Show,” to “The Dennis Miller Show,” and “Comedy Central.” The DVD has Pearson and three other top Christian comics at home and in performance.
What is the most important thing for a comedian to know about his or her audience?
There is a phrase in comedy that says, “Know your audience!” That in itself is the second most important thing in comedy. Everyone laughs at a joke that is based on a truth, but not everyone’s experiences are the same. Talking to a group of teens it wouldn’t be that funny to them talking about the problems of a large mortgage. Or the same talking to a bunch of Amish about troubles with the computer!
If you understand who you are talking to, you can find the common ground and break down the barriers! It’s all about knowing the audience.

What inspires you?

What a broad question–What inspires you? So many things. A great movie makes me want to do better work. Seeing a great play, and a song by Baz Luhrmann, the film director, called ‘Everyone is Free to Wear Sunscreen” inspired me to write a one man comedy show. Some parts of it are actually in the Apostles of Comedy film. However, the biggest inspiration for me is an empty bank account!

What makes you laugh?

Everyday life! Life’s a lot easier if you can laugh at it! My wife, kids and myself are constantly doing and saying funny things. It’s my job to capture that and put it in a looking glass of words for others to relate too. For example, my family was going to a lacrosse game recently and we were right on the edge of being late and the emergency brake cable in the truck snapped off.
I wanted to get to the game so bad, I was frustrated, wasn’t sure who
to call, so I yelled to my wife in frustration to “call General Motors.” My wife said, ”Really, General motors has someone standing by on a Sunday night to fix your
emergency brake!”
Now every so often one of the kids will just yell, “Call General Motors!” Much to my chagrin, it’s been hours of laughter for my family! But, That’s life and life is funny!
I laugh at just about everything! Have you ever noticed that even at a funeral, you get some of the
biggest and deepest laughs? Also, great jokes and great comedians make me laugh!
You know how I make God laugh? I tell him my plans.
My Godson, Beckett makes me laugh. He’s almost 3 years old and just listening to him talk cracks me up!
Can you be reverent and irreverent at the same time?
Another great question! Life is full of oxymorons, I’m just a moron! Yes, I think you can in a weird way be reverent and irreverent at the same time. The reason is, comedy is based on truth and sometimes the truth is ugly. So often, making a joke about a topic that people don’t want to talk about, or won’t acknowledge because of some predisposition, is the best way for people to relate to something difficult for them. The fact that you base it on truth is the important part. That keeps it reverent because God is truth.
Do you have a favorite Bible passage about the importance of laughter?
The funniest thing in the Bible to me is the story of Noah! Here’s a guy who preached for 100 years and didn’t have a single convert! He could barely get his own family on the ark! I can relate to this guy! The frustrated dad. The passage that also hits home is James 4:9 Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom! JUST KIDDING. Actually it’s Proverbs 17:22–A cheerful heart makes good medicine.
Laughter is therapeutic!
What’s the best advice you ever got?
The best advice I ever got was to treat a woman with respect. Oh, you mean about comedy. The best advice was from the actor Peter Scolari. When I first came to Los Angeles, I considered him to be my mentor. He told me that you can make an audience laugh and laugh, but if you show them your heart they will never forget you. This is all about being vulnerable onstage. It’s a very hard thing to do but it is the same thing we can do as Christians. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable to others, it draws them in.
Is stand-up a kind of testimony or preaching? How?
I don’t know if I’d call comedy preaching. I’ve not changed the world or cured cancer from the stage, but comedy is based on truth. Preaching is based on the Bible and that is truth, God is truth. So maybe in a weird way through stand up, some people might look at the world a little differently! I guess that’s my hope. I want my audience to be uplifted. So much of comedy is very dark, but I want the audience to be floating on cloud 9 when they leave. The truth of God’s
word takes the weight of the world off your shoulders. What I try to do is take that same weight off and maybe, just maybe my, life could be a testimony to someone in need!

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