Comedian James Gregory bringing his act to Thrasher-Horne on April 9

Popular standup still telling tales of simple, funny Southern life after 40 years

By Don Coble
Posted 3/31/21

“They say driving a car is more dangerous than flying, but that’s the way I want to go, a car wreck. Where I’m from, it’s kind of like a tradition. We don’t have heart …

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Comedian James Gregory bringing his act to Thrasher-Horne on April 9

Popular standup still telling tales of simple, funny Southern life after 40 years

Posted


“They say driving a car is more dangerous than flying, but that’s the way I want to go, a car wreck. Where I’m from, it’s kind of like a tradition. We don’t have heart attacks in our family. We just cross the median – usually on the weekend, just out drinking or trying to outrun the repo man.
“At least if you die in a car wreck, they can always retrieve the body. Being Baptist, we need that. You give us something to embalm and some of that tater salad, we can have a funeral. Ashes and urns ain’t for us. We’re going to throw dirt on somebody. If you knew a Baptist who talked about cremation, that’s not a full-blood Baptist. He probably married outside his faith. If you hear a Baptist talking about burning something, it’s going to be biscuits or leaves. It’s not going to be Uncle Larry.”



ORANGE PARK – James Gregory loves to tell stories. He also loves to make people laugh. And on special nights, he does both at the same time.
Although Gregory calls himself “The Funniest Man in America,” he readily admits he’s not a joke teller. He tells stories that are interwoven with a little exaggeration, a lot of homespun humor, plenty of thought-provoking recollections of simpler times and the much-needed return of common sense.
Gregory will bring his North Georgia drawl and his light-hearted standup to the Trasher-Horne Center on April 9. A hall that’s been relatively empty for more than a year by the COVID-19 pandemic will be alive again with laughter, Gregory said.
“The people of Orange Park are going to have the funniest night of their life,” he said. “That’s what I think.”
Gregory doesn’t rely on clever one-liners or patented punchlines. His stories are naturally funny because they expose the humor of every day life. And while he’s clearly not politically correct, he avoids the easy laughs that come with politics.
"I try to do a show that relates to the average person. One reason I’ve been in business as long as I have is there’s all types of comedy, there’s all types of entertainment. It’s good there’s different types and different styles,” Gregory said during a recent telephone interview.
“I do the kind of show that’s family entertainment. It’s family oriented. If somebody wants to come to the show and they want to bring their 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, they can bring the kids. Whether you’re 8 years old, 18 or 80, you can enjoy the show. When they leave, I want them to feel good about the experience. I want it to be enjoyable that they can brag about it. And hopefully, they’ll want to come back and do it again. These are being who are buying the show.

“That’s one reason why I stay away from the news. I don’t do anything political on the stage. It’s not funny. With COVID-19, wearing a mask, my theory is this: people watch that 24 hours a day. See that on the news 24 hours a day. Now, they take two hours of their precious time to go to a venue to be entertained. I don’t think they need to hear more news on the stage. If they want to watch the news, they can stay at home.”
Gregory worked for the post office and as a salesman in the Atlanta area until he was 36. He then introduced other comedians at a local comedy club before setting out on his own in 1982.
As long as he can get there in his car, he’s not ready to slow down anytime soon.
“I stay away from air travel. I don’t like to fly,” Gregory said. “I don’t mind flying once a year just to catch up on my drinking and my praying.”
Gregory has spent more than a year off the road when venues were closed by the coronavirus. It was a time to reflect – and to realize just how much he still liked making people laugh.
“Of course, I missed it,” he said. “I’m not by myself. I think the whole country feels that way, whether they’re in my line of work or not. This is the business that I’m in. We’re entertainers. We are not essential workers. Most of our work, most of my shows I do, are in theaters. Of course, they’re controlled by the CEO or the county or the state. Only recently they’ve added limited capacity.”
Seating will be limited to 400 to assure proper distancing, according to Thrasher-Horne’s Production and Events Manager Mariana Bell.
“I didn’t know a lot about him, but once we put him in, a lot of people said they were looking forward to seeing him,” she said. “There’s been a good response for him.”
Gregory, who is making his first appearance at Thrasher-Horne, already is looking forward to coming back.
“Hopefully we can make it successful so we can come once a year,” he said.


A night with James Gregory
When: April 9 at 8 p.m.
Where: Thrasher-Horne Center, St. Johns River State College Campus, 283 College Dr., Orange Park.
When: April 9 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $55-$95
COVID-19 protocols: Tickets sold online at www.thcenter.org in groups of two. For group sales, call the venue at (904) 276-6815.


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