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Ron James finds humour in pandemic and aging

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Toronto based  Nova Scotian born comedian Ron James shared the funny and a piece of himself at the Yates Theatre, Nov. 22 for a good sized audience.

 He returns for a second show tonight, Nov. 23 .


I always look forward to James’ elaborate storytelling and  hyper-literate stream of consciousness musings on life.


 He jumped on stage with a twinkle in his eye like a hyperactive elf, but was more distracted than he should have by the lack of laughter from the section I was sitting in, considering he’s been a touring comedian for over 20 years and should be used to hit and miss audiences, though judging by the peals of laughter from the rest of the room, he was a hit. I was chuckling throughout.

He was also treading more cautiously than I expected around  jokes about Conservatives, though he cracked jokes about Liberals too.


Ron James returns to the Yates Theatre tonight. Photo submitted

 The whole show was a lot more political than I expected.

 He opened innocuously with a few observations about The Lethbridge Lodge, the contents of dairy creamer on the table and how he doesn’t know what’s in in any more than he does about the contents of the Covid vaccine and talked about how much Lethbridge has changed since he was last here and talked about  travelling around Alberta, reminiscing about recording one of his specials in Calgary. 


He launched into his popular bit about the perils of building golf courses on wildlife habitat, with bears and cougars looking to make lunch out of unwary golfers and the time it takes to read safety pamphlets and instructions on bear spray.


He distracted himself from that by talking about being diagnosed with ADD and medication before returning to finish the bear story.


 He joked abut inbreeding and the Royal family and CBC programming, suggesting a Family Feud Canada with a family of hillbillies against the Royal family might be funny.


 He had plenty of verbiage, which was equalled by the number of bodily function jokes, funny voices and utterances,  mugging and poses to come a little bit later.

He spoke a lot about surviving the pandemic and went off on conspiracy theories and theorists, Donald Trump and U.S and Canadian politics.


The 65-year -old comedian hit his stride with more personal material, particularly when talking about aging and the ins and outs of being married, divorced, trying to date online as an older single and eventually dating a 35-year-old a few years ago.


 Some of the highlights were about living in a condo in Toronto with his vegetarian daughter who got him into juice cleanses during the pandemic with both hilarious and disgusting results.

 He reminisced about playing hockey has a kid with buckle up skates, and recalled about camping while on drugs and having to worry about the tide rolling in on him.


 He wound up his show with a spiel about malfunctioning cell-phones and  the phone store clerk asking him of he had a paper-clip to remove the SIM card.

 So if you’re in the mood to laugh and think, don’t miss Ron James’ second Lethbridge show tonight at the Yates theatre.

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor


Theatre Outré spreading Christmas cheer for Quaint Quirky and Christmas

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Mama Didi d’ Edada always gets into some sort of trouble around the holiday season.


Didi and Doni are excited for Quaint , Quirky and Christmas this week. Photo by Richard Amery

 Find out  what happens at the Quaint Quirky and Christmas Cabaret at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25 and 26.


“We always do a Christmas show, but we wanted to go bigger for our tenth anniversary,” said Deonie Hudson, Assistant Director of the  variety show, which will feature 20 performances directed by Andrés Moreno.


“It’s a lot of fun. Get into the Christmas spirit and celebrate the season with Theatre Outré,” Hudson said, noting a variety of acts are linked through an ongoing story— the conflict between director Andrés Moreno’s muppet Doni and Jay Whitehead’s beloved Mama Didi E’dada.


“ It’s about showcasing the community that Theatre Outré has build up over the past 10 years,” said Moreno, who first got involved with Theatre Outré two years ago.


“ It’s definitely an adult show. It’s a variety show. There will be burlesque,  people singing,  drag queens and drag queens and puppetry,” Moreno said.


New West Theatre asking community to “Save Our Stage” with urgent funding request

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Long standing  professional theatre company New West Theatre has fallen on tough times like a lot of  local community groups and arts organizations, so they are reaching out the the community  to “Save Our Stage.”


They have been providing family friendly entertainment and have given local performers a break on the big stage for the past 30 years, but lately veered off in to a slightly more experimental, more serious, issues heavy direction, which hasn’t been as successful as they hoped.


Kyle Gruninger and Kathy Zaborsky performing in one of the popular music comedy revues All Spruced Up. Photo by Richard Amery

 The September production of rock and roll musical  “Next to Normal” and “Barvinok” weren’t as successful as they anticipated, so they are returning to what works, more mainstream shows like their family friendly music comedy revues.


 With  that “ course correction” in mind, they have set a goal of raising $150,000 in the next two months.


“Every little bit helps,” said New West board Chair Dawn Leite, after telling a story about her nephew Declan asking her why she was writing letters asking for help, and offering to donate  five dollars.


“We expanded our offerings this year. We underestimated the community’s appetite for different programming,” Leite told a Nov. 18 press conference, noting they will be going back to programming that is a sure bet.


“ Audiences have not returned to pre-covid levels. So we’re returning to fun, family oriented theatrical selections,” she said.


“We need a little bit of additional funding to make that course correction,” she continued, adding they haven’t launched such a large fundraising campaign before, though they have done smaller campaigns.


 New West Theatre’s next big show is their annual “Blockbuster” holiday show running Dec.14-31 to be directed by New West veteran Grahame Renyk.



 Leite said  there are some special live fundraising events on the horizon to help raise the extra money, which will be announced later.

She said the extra funds are essential.


“ It‘s critical. There is an urgent need,” she said acknowledging times are hard for a lot of people who have lost jobs and are just getting used to going out again after Covid.


“We have a number of reserves we can dip into,” she said, noting it is also national philanthropy week.



Comedian Ron James back where he belongs — bringing the laughs on stage

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The always ebullient and erudite  Cape Breton born, Toronto based comedian Ron James is excited to return to Lethbridge for two shows at the Yates Theatre, Nov. 22 and 23.

“ I’m doing Jim Dandy, I spent October in Nova Scotia ,”  enthused James from Toronto, where the first snow of winter is falling.


Comedian Ron James returns to Lethbridge next week. Photo Submitted

He is excited to be “Back Where I Belong”— on the road making people laugh all across Canada “from Cornerbrook to Courtney -Comox.”

 He always enjoys performing in Lethbridge.


“ I love Southern Alberta. I’ve been to Waterton and  the hoodoos, Writing on Stone Provincial Park. Audiences always come to laugh,” he said.


“ The last time I was here was 2018, I think and I heard the Yates theatre had just been renovated. And a lot has happened since then,” James observed.


He kept  busy during the pandemic doing a few online shows, working on a couple of television shows and completing his book.“All Over the Map.”


“I had to keep the muscle I’ve spent the last 25 years building and strengthening from travelling from Cornerbrook to Courtney-Comox, from atrophying,” he said.


The  paperback edition of Ron James’ best selling new book  “All Over the Map” was just released  on Nov. 1. The hardcover version was released last October and has done well.

“It was in the Top 50 between Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld,” he said.

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