Dedicated to making you laugh
As you long as you understand English, TuRae Gordon thinks he can make you laugh.
Picking up on commonalities is the comedian’s not-so-secret weapon.
Lactose intolerance, the skyrocketing cost of cable and ageing are just a few of the topics he’s touched on.
“I just think it is easier to talk about what we all go through,” said Mr Gordon, who is part of the Bermuda America Comedy Laugh-Off line-up. “As a comedian I can say, ‘Hey, this happened to me today’.
Mr Gordon added: “It brings to life what we may all be going through that we probably don’t think about.”
The 46-year-old has frequently appeared on BET’s ComicView and in the films Underground Kings and All the Queen’s Men.
He got his start while doing pre-law classes at Temple University.
A native of Philadelphia, he loved to roast people who used the wrong word or phrase, but never thought of himself as a comedian until a friend encouraged him to sign up for an open mic night.
“She said there would be free refreshments,” he said. “And when you’re a college student, you don’t say no to that.”
He was amazed when he got paid $50 for the performance.
“The comedy bug was born,” Mr Gordon said. “I said, ‘You get money for this?’”
Friends next encouraged him to take part in a competition at The Laff House, a well-known comedy club in the city.
He won and decided to change his career focus.
Although his mother Vera was initially supportive, she later told him what she’d really been thinking: “Are you out of your mind? You just spent all that money on college!”
Mr Gordon changed his major to history and African-American studies, thinking he could always teach.
Ultimately the decision served him well. He now teaches comedy as well as classes on the business of comedy.
In those early days, his goal was to get on to Def Comedy Jam.
For that to happen he knew he had to catch the notice of Bob Sumner, the cocreator of the HBO show, with a performance at Peppermint Lounge, his club in East Orange, New Jersey.
By the time he did that, the show had been cancelled.
Instead, he did several seasons of ComicView before winning the World Cup Comedy Clash at London’s Hackney Empire Theatre in 2007.
When Def Comedy Jam returned to HBO the next year, he was ready.
“I truly remember sitting in my trailer after I taped that thinking, ‘What now?’ Previous to that, I’d really wanted the badge of being an HBO Def Jam comedian.”
Being on the show launched his career into high gear with appearances on The Funny Spot, Live at Gotham and Comics Unleashed.
Today he tours frequently as a stand-up comedian with shows in Amsterdam, Bahamas, St Kitts and the Cayman Islands among a long list in the past year.
“Performing overseas is a good way to test yourself to see if you are funny everywhere,” said Mr Gordon, who will hit the stage here for the third time next week.
He’s proud that he can support his family from his comedy and that he’s well-enough established that he can control his own schedule.
“Being a comedian is full of sacrifice,” he said. “It takes you away from family and friends — I miss weddings and funerals.
“I am not crying about it, but that is the part that takes dedication.
“Maybe there have been two or three New Year’s Eves that I haven’t worked, but most of the time I am booked.”
His advice to wannabe comedians is to get involved.
“Get on stage as much as possible,” he said. “Work on your craft as much as possible. Be confident in yourself as much as possible. You have to believe in yourself.”
• Bermuda America Comedy Laugh-Off takes place on Saturday at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. Tony Sculfield, Kenny Howell, Bootsie, Eddie G and Gina Love are on the programme with TuRae Gordon. Tickets, $75, are available at www.ptix.bm
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