We are spotlighting Johnny Ray, a longtime Tallahassee resident who you have probably seen over the years at a live comedy venue in town. Here’s what he had to say on Live Comedy in Tallahassee.
Q: What brings you to Tallahassee?
A: I am actually local to Tally! I was born in Quincy in what should be a planned parenthood center after they had me!! I moved from Quincy to Tallahassee after I graduated in the top ten of my class. There were eight of us! I was seven. At least it wasn’t last. I wish that was a joke!! I have been here every since.
Q: What have you noticed about live comedy in Tallahassee over the years?
A: This town truly loves stand up comedy because for most of the audience they can relate. Over the years I’ve seen it pick up a lot of people who were down. People want to forget their problems if for only two hours. It’s therapy for them to listen to someone else’s ridiculous silly stories of the person on stage. That’s a comedians job is to entertain and make you laugh so hard you snort and then laugh more because we heard you do it. It’s good for you.
Q: In you opinion what makes live comedy stand out in Tallahassee?
A: The local scene here is very much alive and thriving. People from all walks of life are getting behind the mic and experiencing how hard and rewarding it can be!! I think everyone in their soul wants to be a stand up comedian, truly! And the guys and gals who run the local shows in town are always accepting and supportive of new talent.
Q: What brought you into live comedy and how long have you been a part of stand up?
A: Honestly what drew me to performing was my dad. I watched him play guitar and sing all my life. He has been a musician all his life. To this day, at close to 75, he still plays in a band. I saw how people loved what he did. How they looked at all those guys on stage. So from an early age I always wanted to know how that felt. I wanted to be a country music star before people told me my voice is better heard telling jokes than singing!! In 2001 I was invited to be on a show by a local headliner, Joe West. It was the first time I ever stepped on a stage. It was for a charitable fund raiser for 250 people at the old Sloppy Joe’s. I tanked the first five minutes but he saw something and let me sweat it out instead of “giving me the light”. Eventually, I got the crowd laughing and I relaxed and just soaked it in. I was hooked from that moment on. I got a guest spot on the Comedy Zone Stage at the old Ramada Inn and then was booking, promoting, and performing ever since. In 2007, (all thanks to Joe) I landed the host position at the Comedy Zone Tennessee street location until it closed. I’m hosting at the new Comedy Zone at The Moon currently.
Q: What do you want locals and visitors to know about live comedy in the Tallahassee area that they may not know?
A: What most people don’t know is how much of a local scene there is in the area. Some of the crew from the old Comedy Zone location are still doing comedy every Wednesday at the Byrd’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack. Free admission and local comics putting their material out there. A lot of these comedians are booking and promoting shows all the time. If you wanted a comedian for an event it would’t be that hard to find what you are looking for. You should really check out the local scene.
Q: Describe Comedy in Tallahassee in five words or less!
A: Bold, innovative, eager, talented, capable.