James Gregory performs in Tryon March 3

Published 2:58 pm Monday, February 21, 2011

James Gregory, the comedian known as the “Funniest Man in America,” will perform at the Tryon Fine Arts Center on Thursday, March 3.

Comedian James Gregory will be touring in roughly 40 theatres in the Southeast, off the beaten path. Most of the venues are restored older theatres, such as the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, S.C., and the Abbeville Opera House in Abbeville, S.C., where he will be the first comedian to take the stage in their 100-year history.

Some of the theatres only hold 300-400 people, a small crowd by Gregory’s standards. But that’s part of the charm – for Gregory.

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“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.”

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 said. “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.”

Gregory’s performance schedule can be found on his website, www.funniestman.com. When asked how he got the title, “Funniest Man in America,” Gregory said, “You have to keep in mind, I’ve been doing this so long, when I started there were only 13 states.”