By Frank Peebles on March 10 2016
Working in a warehouse with a degree in English and Political Science, getting divorced young, a disease taking his father too soon, growing up in the age of hateful factions like ISIS and Trump… that is some funny stuff!
Jon White is young enough that the comedy world is still a freshly blooming garden of flowers just waiting for his frolicking. But he’s experienced enough in life to know about hay fever and hidden bees and poison oak, if he isn’t careful. It is the pain and anger and injustices of life that come up in the best comedy. Sometimes it comes up like a light bulb of eureka and sometimes it comes up like a burp. Either way: funny stuff.
Even though he’s only been in the standup comedy craft for a short time, he has already put a lot of stage lumber under his feet. When he took part in the Kinsmen Club’s comedy for charity showcase on Jan. 30, he made his 80th appearance as a comic. When he is the headliner on April 2 at Art Space, it will mark the fourth time his name was at the top of the marquee. All told, he is no longer an amateur. He may have that warehouse job to pay the bills, but he is a comedian.
“The goal isn’t to be Russell Peters or Louis C.K., it is to make a living doing comedy,” he said. He is already gathering those important experiences that take the edges off. He grew up in a Mormon household, and when he told some Mormon jokes at a comedy event in Vanderhoof, one of the patrons took such exception she confronted him afterwards. “I even knew her a little, but she gave me a shoulder check as she passed by after she let me know how she didn’t approve of the jokes. Some people get the cold shoulder; I got the hard shoulder. But I looked at it as a topic, not an attack. And it’s cathartic. I feel totally fine making fun of things people can choose. You can’t choose your ethnicity, you can’t choose a disease or a disability you have, you can’t choose to be the victim of rape. I wouldn’t write jokes about those things.
But your political views, your religion, your sexual behavior, that’s all free game.” What he does impose on himself, as a writer and oral communicator (yes, that English degree is alive and kicking) is a degree of craftsmanship. He skips over some funnies because they were too easy. They didn’t deliver enough creative thinking to the conversation.
“Anything can be funny, it really can,” he said. “But shock value might get you attention; it won’t get you lasting appreciation for your craft. George Carlin shocked people, but the material was saying something larger than the immediate burst of laughter. Comedy is a social commentary.
It’s one of the few ways the issues of society actually get put on display and talked about. In that sense I do think it is OK to sometimes offend people. You have to be made to think about life, because some things don’t come to your mind any other way. You are stronger if you look at the scary stuff. It melts its power. You’re stronger if you address difficult topics head-on.
Just like you body gets stronger by exercise, which is literally tearing your muscles in order to build them. Comedy rips your emotions in order for your mind to be healthier and more ready to wrestle with everything life throws at you.”
White spent his late teens and early 20s working retail jobs in the entertainment industry – Rogers Video, EB Games, etc.
In his spare time, he’d scribble snatches of comedy in binders he still carries around. He had a couple of friends who were ahead of him in the small but burgeoning comedy community in Prince George. Guys like Bryce Lokkan led him to leaders in the local scene like Mike McGuire and Brian Majore, and soon after that he was going for coffee or other social beverages with import headliners like Charlie Demers and Matt Billion (who was, truth be told, also a kid raised in Prince George before striking comedy paydirt).
Watch for tickets on sale soon for Jon White The April Fool comedy show, coming April 2 at Art Space.