Southern charm blended with some sass, wit and a woman’s view of the world’s quirks produce comedienne Chonda Pierce’s “Girl Talk.”
Known for laugh-filled performances and more certified gold and platinum DVDs than any female comic in recording-industry history, Pierce draws sizable crowds around the country. Her Girl Talk Tour makes a stop in the historic and revived Indiana Theatre for a 6 p.m. show Sunday in downtown Terre Haute. She is known as the “Queen of Clean” and the “Country Comic” for her family friendly humor and her background as the daughter of a South Carolina preacher, who broke into comedy by portraying Grand Ole Opry icon Minnie Pearl at a Nashville, Tenn., theme park.
She pokes fun at men, Botox and Barbie dolls, but Pierce has also tackled heavier issues in her career. She overcame depression and described the struggle in “Laughing in the Dark,” one of her eight books. As a result, she helped found Branches Recovery Center, a facility aiding people battling depression and addiction recovery.
Pierce discussed comedy, her spiritual faith and their coexistence in an interview, via email, with the Tribune-Star on Tuesday afternoon. The questions and her responses follow below.
• You’ve mentioned that comedy provides a disarming way to address tough issues, and that the church world doesn’t touch on those as much as it should. Your book, “Laughing in the Dark,” delved into depression. What other topics should churches be broaching to help people listening to the messages?
“I’ve been around the church world my entire life. Churches are truly growing as our culture changes, but we could do a better job embracing. But some are still slow to embrace the needs of people who find themselves overwhelmed by addiction or depression. Understanding and knowledge can help us all be better catalysts for hope.”
• Was there ever a point where your role as a comic and your faith clashed?
“Yes, indeed. My faith clashes often with all kinds of things! Being a Christ follower is not always popular. I was working in a comedy club a few years ago when a comic spent his entire time on stage saying the most degrading and disgusting things about Jesus Christ and his disciples. Out of great love and respect for Christ, I walked out. And you know, I would expect others would do the same about their religion or faith. The comic has the freedom to say what he wants. And I have the freedom to not listen!”
• How did your father’s preaching influence your ability to perform comedy in front of audiences?
“Most all preachers in my childhood were great communicators. You can’t sit on a pew for as long as I have and not pick up a few pointers! Ha!”
• Do you see instances in which your comedy success has influenced fellow comedians?
“Oh I pray it has! Many years ago I began to get emails and calls from several comedians wanting a little advice or just needing some fellowship. About 30 or 40 of us met at my farm in Tennessee and got acquainted. Now that small gathering has become the Christian Comedy Association and there are about 300 comics who are Christians. We learn a ton from one another and enjoy conferences and gatherings all over the country. (See www.christiancomedyassociation.com.)
• This is Indiana, in the Midwest; how do audiences react differently by region?
“Well, there are places that laugh at me more often than with me! This accent gets worse the further north I drive! Ha!
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.