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Getting back to funny

Getting back to funny
09 May
1:26

Although she’s known as the “Queen of Clean” comedy, Chonda Pierce said her ”Getting Back to Funny” tour borders on PG-13 material.

LAKELAND —

Although she’s known as the “Queen of Clean” comedy, Chonda Pierce said her ”Getting Back to Funny” tour borders on PG-13 material.

She’s bringing that show, featuring her Southern-wit and charm, to a sold-out audience at Victory Church in Lakeland on Saturday.

Pierce said “Getting Back to Funny” is a reflection of her own life.

Three years ago, her husband of 31 years, David, died and it’s taken that long for her to breath again.

“Like everybody, if you have the flu bug, you still have to eventually go back to work; if you’re grieving, you still have to go to work. I did go back and it was successful, but I wasn’t completely there,” she said. “This time, I feel like I’m getting back to breathing again and why I do what I do and enjoying it myself.”

Pierce has been performing her down-home brand of comedy for more than 20 years. Her material is often based on her life, opening up about sad times her own life, but drawing humor from those situations. In October 2015, she debuted her first film, “Chonda Pierce: Laughing in the Dark,” based on her personal struggle to overcome depression.

Pierce said through her shows, she wants to use humor and anecdotal tales to show positivity when life looks grim. She said she does that through her own brand of comedy.

“You know, it’s funny. Comedy is very subjective. What one person thinks is squeaky clean, there could be another one that still doesn’t like it,” said Pierce, who got her start working at Opryland Theme Park in Nashville, Tennessee, where she performed as “Grand Ole Opry” star Minnie Pearl. “For the most part, comedy is about delivering the laughs. I’m a born-again Christian so that permeates everything that I am.”

Since 2015, Pierce’s mother died, she became estranged from her daughter and she dealt with her husband’s alcoholism and subsequent death. She said there are words she won’t use and subject matter she tries to avoid, although sex and politics aren’t immune from her roasts.

“It’s about the words you choose and how you choose to describe a certain subject,” said Pierce.

Over her career, Pierce said she has been influenced by comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Sinbad and Carol Burnett, who, like herself, used music and question time to complete her performances. Opening for Pierce will be Christian artist and Winter Park native Karyn Williams, whose 2012 debut album “Only You” spent more than 30 weeks on the Billboard charts.

Pierce said a really good comic is a great observer and draws comedic inspiration from day-to-day activities. She said she still draws on what she sees around her and “you just have to have good instincts as to what’s going to be funny.”

“Right now, I write comedy because I’m bored,” she said and laughed. “(Comedians) are great historians; they’re almost telltales of what’s going on in culture.”

As for her audience in Lakeland and beyond, Pierce said she hoped they leave de-stressed.

“Everybody needs a good laugh. This time around, I hope they’ll go back with the knowledge of why we need to get back to the basics of who we are as Christians — and that is a lot of the focus of the night,” she said.

In addition to 10 albums, Pierce has written eight books. In 2006, she founded Branches Recovery Center, which offers counseling and treatment to those with depression, anxiety, addiction, regardless of their abilities to pay.

Pierce has also raised several million dollars for international relief organizations Compassion International, WorldVision, Food for the Hungry and Feed the Children.

Paul Catala can be reached at paul.catala@theledger.com or 863-802-7533. He can be reached at Twitter @pcat0226.

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