Comedian Coming to Sunrise
Used to be if you wanted to see a performer like James Gregory, you needed to live in a large market or drive 50 to 100 miles, round trip. Now the comedian known as the "Funniest Man in America" has changed all that by taking his famous homespun comedy to revitalized theaters in the heartland.
Gregory will be at the Sunrise Theater Friday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m.
"I just got tired of waiting for people to come to my show in the big city, so I decided to take my show to them," says Gregory. "Seriously, I have relatives who've gone to their grave and never seen me perform. I was born and raised in what is now a suburb of Atlanta. My aunt would call my mother, 'Winnie, I see James is performing in the city. When's he ever gonna come out this way?' And Momma would say, 'Rudy, I don't believe we have a theater here that would have him.' And she'd say, 'Well, I don't guess I'm ever gonna see him then,' even though the drive was only 45 minutes."
Gregory will be touring in roughly 40 theaters in the Southeast, off the beaten path. Some of the theaters only hold 300 to 400 people, a small crowd by Gregory's standards. But that's part of the charm for him.
"My style of comedy, where it's all clean, where it's just me and a microphone, offers an intimacy with my audience," says Gregory. "If there's only 300 seats, there's not a bad seat in the house. I can touch the front row. I can see the smiles on the faces in the back row. It becomes like a giant living room, the energy is wonderful; we feel closer to each other. We feel like we know each other."
Indeed, Gregory never uses a green room - a back room designed to give performers privacy before a show. Rather, you'll find him out in the lobby meeting people a half-hour or more before the show. After the show, he'll always stay and talk to people, sometimes for hours.
Unlike comedy clubs, where alcohol is served and foul language is rampant, the venues for these shows are family-friendly.
"When I do these shows, it renews my faith in mankind and in my country," Gregory says. "People seem to have more reverence. You'll hear well-mannered children saying 'yes, sir' and 'yes, ma'am.' It's a different world than we see on the nightly news."
And nobody loves his performances more than Gregory himself.
"Getting to be on stage in that kind of an ambience is a thrill unlike any other I've known," says Gregory. "The audience and I, we leave our troubles behind. For two hours, things are funny again. The moment I walk through that curtain, all my aches and pains disappear. Sometimes I enjoy it so much, I feel like I should have bought a ticket."
Tickets are $28 for reserved seats and $23 general admission.
Call the Sunrise Theater at (910) 692-3611 or visit www.sunrisetheater.com.
More like this story