Joking around with Ron Josol

Everyone thinks making
people laugh is easy. A
sarcastic comment here or there may make you the joker amongst your group of friends, but trying to make a living at
it is hard work. Just ask Ontario-based comedian Ron Josol, who leapt into stand-up at the behest of his friends.

“I just went up one day and I wanted to see if it would work,” remembers Josol. “You realize quickly it’s more than just making your friends laugh. It’s harder. I
got booed off my first time.”

Despite the initial humiliation, Josol remained committed to the craft. Weathering the storms of crowd apathy, and sometimes
worse than apathy, Josol found his voice.

“What happened is I had to
start writing actual jokes that
would work,” says Josol. “Then when you’re comfortable doing that, your persona starts coming
out and you can start making
things up on the spot.”

Eventually fed up balancing
his stand-up career with various
day jobs, including graphic design,
couriering and staffing a call centre,
Josol finally quit to focus on
comedy after starring in a CTV
special. Josol admits that making
his way as a comedian in Canada posed some challenges, so he often sought additional work in
the U.S.

“Canada’s a weird thing,” remarks Josol. “Yuk Yuk’s is the biggest industry for comics, and if you’re not part of Yuk Yuk’s there’s not too many bigger venues. There’s nothing where you can just get paid on a regular basis—you’ve got to really hustle. In the States, there’s 10 versions of Yuk Yuk’s. So if you don’t
like Yuk Yuk’s here and you’re in the States, you can go do another chain of comedy clubs. You don’t have to stick to one. You just go back and forth. Here, it’s kind of weird. It’s just Yuk Yuk’s, and they don’t want you to play outside
of Yuk Yuk’s. You’re kind of
stuck to them.”

Josol is best known for his appearances making fun of music videos on the hit Much Music program Video on Trial. In fact, Josol was the first person to tape segments for the show.

“One of my friends—who was a producer at Omni—just got a job at Much, and he called me up,” remembers Josol. “I was on regularly, and now they’ve changed producers and I’m not in Canada much these days. I’m here really two weeks out of a month, and whenever they ask me to come on I can’t. It’s just one of those things where I’m busy.”

Josol joins fellow Asian-Canadian comedians Jeffrey Yu and Paul Bae in MacEwan Hall on May 15 for the Asian-Canadian Comedy Night, presented as
part of the annual ImaginASIAN Festival celebrating Asian Heritage Month. Despite the branding of the event as Asian, Josol insists the labeling reflects who’s on the show, not what it’s about.

“When I work in the States, there’s Asian comedy shows all the time and it’s not just for Asians,” he says. “It just happens to be Asians, and the crowds are black, Latino, white, Asian… Here it’s kind of like, ‘I don’t want to see three Asian comics, it must be boring, all the same thing.’ It’s not. It’s just exactly like a regular show. You’ll forget that we’re
just all Asian. In the States, they’ll have 10 Asians on a show but they’re not all talking about
the same thing. They all talk about their point of view of life, they’re all different people. That’s something that they got used to in
the last 10 years in the States, where in Canada it’s something new.”

The Asian-Canadian Comedy Night takes over MacEwan Hall Tues., May 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for students/seniors or $30 for adults.
For tickets or info call 264-2778 or e-mail

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