Some big-time laughs are coming to the Krider Performing Arts Center.
James Gregory will take the KPAC stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $27 for general admission and $35 for preferred seating.
They are available at Merison’s in Paris, as well as online. They also will be available at the door that night.
Gregory grew up watching stand-up comedy on programs like Jack Benny, Milton Berle and “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
After some nudging from his friends, he started doing open mike stand-up in Atlanta, and things took off.
Today he performs his down-home stories of food, funerals and funny relatives to sold-out theaters, casinos and corporate events, working 48 weeks of the year.
He’s also a regularly invited guest on national radio shows.
Early in his career, Gregory earned the moniker, “Funniest Man in America,” but he’s quick to tell you, “At that time there were only thirteen states.”
His jokes are squeaky clean as, he says, “My mother wouldn’t let me tell them if they weren’t.” It’s the kind of show you could feel comfortable bringing your date or your grandmother.
What’s really unique about Gregory is his appeal to people of all ages, races, creeds and colors. It’s not unusual to see three generations rolling in the aisles.
He comes off as that funny uncle that everyone gathers around at family reunions, because he has the best stories — and so reminds people of their own families.
While his routines include such Southern subjects as covered-dish suppers, road trips to Stuckey’s and the healthy aspects of fried foods, it’s a mistake to consider him a regional comic.
Gregory says, “To me, Southern comedians are guys who get on stage and talk about pickup trucks, rifle racks and cow-tipping. I don’t talk about the South; I just deliver my material with a Southern accent.
“My comedy is based on the real life — the people I grew up with,” he said, “and my notions about food came from them.
“They all eat fried foods, and many of them are in their eighties,” Gregory said with a sly grin, “and meanwhile, you read in the news how some health nut kicked the bucket jogging on the way home from the health food store.”
He continued, “People come to a comedy club to laugh. It seems like the new thing in comedy today is ‘stream of consciousness’ or ‘cerebral’ material.
“I doubt if a husband and wife ever looked at each other on their way to a comedy club and said, ‘Gee, I hope this guy is going to be real cerebral tonight.’ Instead, I think they say, ‘He sure better be funny.’”
One might imagine that after 30 years, a comedian might become a bit jaded. Not Gregory. When he hits the stage, he comes alive like someone just plugged him in, and his fans adore him.
After each show, he truly enjoys meeting with fans and signing autographs.
“We’re living in such a cynical age, sometimes people don’t believe me when I tell them, ‘I’m really glad to be here’ during my show.
“But it’s true. I owe them all a debt of gratitude. If not for them, I wouldn’t get to do what I most love.”