News Column

Chonda Pierce draws material from church, life for comedy

November 6, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 06--Chonda Pierce, who likes to lighten reality with laughter through a road show tour called "Girl Talk," plans a stopover at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7.

Tickets for the 21/2-hour show are $25 and $20 at Lifeway Christian Stores.

She recalls the start of her career with comments spiced by hilarious laughter.

"I was a theater arts major in college, and got a job in what used to be a theme park in Nashville called Opryland USA. The show that I was in told the history of country music, and I had been raised in a conservative pastor's home. My dad was such a conservative preacher that I knew nothing about anything on the radio or country music."

She added, "Sometimes I feel like I tripped into this job. I desperately needed to pay my college tuition, and my boss gave me the part in the show of impersonating Minnie Pearl. That wonderful country comic was iconic back in the day, and as they say, the rest is history.

"I fell in love with comedy," she said with her signature laugh. "And I could be excluded from the big dance number which my mom thought was going to send me to hell!"

She continues her account with an undeniable talent for one-liners: "Oh, dear Lord -- I always tell everybody I was raised in a Holiness church, then I married a Baptist and it just got worse."

She notes that national unrest has in the past created a desire for comedy.

"When the world was going through war, when the times were so tough in America, that was the first sitcoms. That was how much comedy was needed and how it was used to lighten the burden of what was going on."

When people ask where she gets her material, she suggests they check news reports and the condition of the nation.

"If you can't laugh, you would cry, and I don't think people want to buy tickets to somebody crying."

She often has an audience from church backgrounds.

"Some of my comedy friends who work a lot of comedy clubs are great individuals, but you know, they get heckled from time to time. I get an email that says I'm going to burn in hell -- I would rather just get heckled."

She has attained a serious level in the field of comedy, but even in an interview, her punch lines never end:

"I have been very blessed to have albums out. Not very long ago, I was awarded the most gold and platinum award-winning female comic in history. That just shocked me to death -- I would like to know where that money went."

She has written eight books, and one of them -- "Laughing in the Dark" -- reveals a serious side.

"I write every now and then if there's some event in my life that I feel garners some attention, or something that I can pass on to my audience, to my girlfriends. I went through a really severe bout of depression about seven years ago, but out of that came some great life lessons that I will never forget. I wanted to pass those things on, so I wrote 'Laughing in the Dark' -- that seemed to really resonate with a lot of women who go through that.

"Unfortunately, in the church world, we don't talk about the tough issues like we should. Sometimes, especially in comedy, we can disarm a lot of topics and a lot of subjects that we are maybe avoiding too often."

ray.westbrook@lubbockonline.com

-- 766-8711

Follow Ray on Twitter

@RayWestbrook1

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(c)2013 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas)

Visit the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) at www.lubbockonline.com

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