An Interview With
– Ronnie Ray –
The Only Comedian to Appear on Nickelodeon and Playboy TV
Ronnie Ray, Chicago’s own brings hilarious real life moments to the stage! He found his true passion for comedy at the age of six, thanks to Eddie Murphy and Saturday Night Live. Ronnie began perfecting his craft by listening to his family and the world around him.
The Real Underdog of Comedy, Ronnie Ray a student of comedy. He trained at Second City Chicago, ETA Creative Arts Foundation; Chicago, IL., and Act One Studios; Chicago, IL.. He polished his verbal creativity and ability to write sketches by performing with comedy ensemble OBN “Oui Be Negroes” and Nation of Improv.
Ronnie has been entertaining audiences for years as comic, actor, improvations and animation. His passion as comedian has opened doors for him to share the stage as a host and feature for past and present outstanding comedians from Damon Wayans, Robin Williams, Chris Tucker, Mike Epps and the reigning King of Comedy Kevin Hart. Ron performs at The Improv, The Laugh Factory, Icehouse Comedy club (Los Angeles) The Famous Comedy store (Los Angeles), Zanies, Riddles Comedy Club and many other stages across the country. Because of his unique comedy style gave him the opportunity to become the first comedian to perform on Playboy TV’s “Canoga Park” and “Totally Busted”.
In 2012, Ronnie Ray did an episode of the television shows, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Private Practice” and Nickelodeon “Victorious”. He has done an independent film that has been distributed by LIONSGATE “C’mon Man” starring comedians Tony Rock and Rodney Perry. But Ron’s acting career started in 2001 with a role in the Paramount pictures “Save the Last Dance” starring Kerry Washington from ABC Number one Drama “Scandal”. He used his talents for the animated film “Gangs of LA 1991″ and worked with Director John Landis on the award winning comedy from “Jib Jab’s Shawshank in a Minute”. But, Ronnie Ray’s passion lies on stage as a comedian knowing the importance of laughter and what it means to people in the world.
I had the opportunity to speak with him one-on-one:
- How did you get interested in comedy?
My family. Everybody in my family has a sense of humor. Growing up I would always listen to old Red Foxx & Richard Pryor albums (this was before cable!) and knew that I wanted to be like them & make people laugh. I used to listen to stand up so much that I could tell when a punchline was coming. By the time I was 17 years old I knew what I wanted to do. I was also inspired by Dwayne Kennedy – I wanted to be just like him. I saw him perform all the way back in 2002 and met him eleven years later in February, 2013. And not only did I meet him, I was able to open for him. It was one of the best days of my career.
- Where do you get your material?
I used to watch a lot of television so a lot of my material came from there. Now, I get most of my jokes from my personal life. My uncle used to play Stevie Wonder’s Keys of Life and that album taught me to really pay attention to everything. Stevie Wonder wrote that album himself & every single song means something to him.Material comes easy to me because I am an improviser. I don’t cater to clichés either. I prefer to write jokes that stand the test of time because they mean more to people.
- You’re a comedian (among other things). How are you able to find humor in everyday life?
Because I’m a comedian I look at things differently and can find comedy anywhere. But you really have to look for humor in everyday life. “You can die in the bleachers so you might as well get on the field on the play.”
- What is an important part of your daily routine?
I try to hit the gym for about 2 hours and I drink 1 gallon of water every day. I also listen to positive affirmations or even some of my own comedy for about 30 minutes just to get myself motivated. Some of my favorite motivational speakers include Tony Robbins, Eric “ET” Thomas, Jim Rhone, Les Brown, Zig Ziggler & Brian Tracey.
- You’ve had some success in your acting career and it seems like nothing has held you back. For those of us who may be facing challenges in life, what would be your advice on how to face their fears?
Be fearless. Whatever you’re going through it can only hurt for so long so take on all of your challenges & don’t be afraid. The only way you can grow is through pain. And practice should be being disciplined daily. What keeps me motivated is that I want to be the guy that every man wants to be & the guy that every woman wants to be with.
- Robin Williams just took his own life. They say comedians have a ‘dark past’. What do you think about that?
There is some truth to that. Fame can make some people crazy but every comic is not the same. I don’t seek attention at all; I just enjoy the art of making someone laugh.
- You’ve been in the industry for over 15 years now & have worked with some really good comedians. Is there anyone else you look forward to working with?
I would love to work with Eddie Murphy, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise or even Spike Lee.
- Who are some of your favorite comedians?
My top comedians are Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Moms Mabley and Rodney Dangerfield. I have so many others but these are the ones who stand out the most to me.
- Is there a difference between Black comedy & White comedy?
No, I think comedy is universal. If you’re funny, you’re funny & it’ll show. “Comedy is the closest to justice.” – Colin Quinn
- Do you have any good “groupie” stories that you can share?!
I was in Montana doing a show and afterwards a woman came up to me in the bar where I was hanging out & just kissed me on my cheek! Then a man comes up on the other side of me & kisses my other cheek! It turns out that was her husband and he wanted to know if I wanted to sleep with his wife. He asked me point blank, “Do you like my wife?” “If not, I have an 18 year old daughter at home.” I was stunned! Needless to say, I didn’t go home with them. People are crazy!
- Now let’s move on to one of my favorite topics – relationships. I’d love to hear your perspective on knowing whose relationship advice to take & whose relationship advice to ignore. Any thoughts?
I would say listen to an old divorced man. If he messed up, he’ll be honest & tell you about it. Men tend to admit their mistakes but if you ask an old divorced woman you won’t get the truth. For some reason, women tend to blame their failed relationships on the man even if it wasn’t totally his fault.Men usually give more unbiased advice – when they’re “high on love” they’ll tell you to go for it (pursue a woman you like, take a chance with love, etc.), and when they’re “low on love” they’ll tell you the truth. As I once heard on The Martin Show, “Young fools become old fools.”
- How can a woman get REAL advice as to why she’s not in a relationship? And how does she know who to ask & who not to ask?
Good advice has to come from someone you know & trust. It really is all a gamble because you have to trust that that person will give you their honest opinion. Otherwise, you can just ask your parents!
- The marriage rate is on a steady decline. Why do you think people aren’t getting married anymore?
A lot of men have old fashioned values & can’t handle an independent woman. Some women tend to rub their independence in a man’s face but men want to feel like “the man”.There is a phenomenon of people moving in together but I don’t think a man should ever move in with a woman. It will cause problems in the long run. I also think a woman should never make a whole lot more money than her man because that has the potential to cause issues. This is something that may pose a problem later down the line within that relationship.At the end of the day, it’s all about communication. I know that may sound corny, but that’s what it boils down to.
- You’re an eligible bachelor. Why are you still single?
It’s not easy to date because I love comedy too much. I just got out of a relationship ago because we weren’t on the same page. I may have been bull-headed but I learned a lot from that relationship. I wouldn’t mind being in a relationship again but I’m very picky. I want to be in a partnership where we get to hold each other accountable through it all.Also, I don’t like fighting or dealing with insecure women. But more importantly, I want to be with a woman who I can have a strong friendship with.
- What are you looking for in a woman?
I am looking for someone who can be my wife & lifelong partner. Someone who is trustworthy and secure in who she is. She should have career goals, be a hard worker and have great hygiene. A pretty face wouldn’t hurt either!
- Who do you think should say “I love you” first?
I think the guy should say it first. Women tend to fall in love faster so if the guy says it first, the woman will automatically say it back. But if the woman says it first she might not get the response she’s looking for. When a guy says those 3 words, he means it.
- So where can a woman, like me, find a good (African American) man?
Women need to figure out whether or not they’re really open to meeting someone. Chances are if you just live your life, you won’t have to look for love. If you look for it you might find something you may not really want.
- You’re very focused on your career. How should women deal with men who put their career first?
You can either deal with it or not deal with it. There has to be an understanding that if he loves what he does, you have to honor his career. No one should have to lie about the importance of their career.
- I always like to hear good advice. What’s the best piece of advice your mother/grandmother gave you?
My grandmother gives me a lot of great advice. She’s always taught me to “live my dreams”. You can’t ask for better advice than that.
- Tell us about some of your upcoming projects –
I am currently hosting the Ronnie Ray Stage Show every month at the Wip Theater in Chicago, IL. Starting September 16, 2014 I will be hosting the ‘Ronnie Ray Comedy Show’ weekly on Youtube.
His Influences are: Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby, Redd Foxx and Rodney Dangerfield.