The Bible tells us “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22) And comedian Chonda Pierce agrees.
“Comedy has been the greatest gift for dispensing medicine, not just to the audience, but to me as well,” she told The Log. “I have learned to respect this craft more and more in my life.”
A stand-up comedian, television hostess, author and actress, Pierce has been making people laugh for more than two decades with her winning combination of fierce wit and Southern charm.
Born in Covington, Kentucky, Pierce is known for keeping her standup routines clean and Southern. She said she is a person of faith and believes God gave her this ministry for a purpose.
“I used to chuckle and say, ‘God may not want anything to do with this whole mess,’" she said. "But when you look at the incredible things that have emerged, even from great tragedy in my life, I can say that only God could have orchestrated such blessings.”
Often billed as “The Queen of Clean,” Pierce is the Recording Industry Association of America’s most-awarded female comic in history. Billboard magazine dubbed her “the country comic,” as she has been making audiences laugh for decades simply by sharing stories of her Southern upbringing.
Pierce’s father was a pastor associated with the Holiness movement, and the family moved every few years. At the age of 15, her family moved to Ashland City, Tennessee, near Nashville, which influenced her career choice.
“I auditioned to work in one of the shows at Opryland USA, a theme park in Nashville at the time,” she said. “They cast me in a show called “Country Music USA” that utilized impersonators to depict the history of country music. Since I was no good at dancing, my boss saved my job by giving me the role of Minnie Pearl — that way I was excluded from the big dance number that followed.”
Pierce quickly fell in love with making people laugh and ended up imitating Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl for six years. Through those years, Pierce learned to find the humor in everyday life and as a standup comedian, she began to relate stories of growing up in church and being a preacher’s child.
During the years that followed, Pierce performed on a Bill Gaither Homecoming DVD, which led to performing in churches nationwide. As her comedy routines evolved, her topics turned toward women, and in 2001 she began touring with the Women of Faith conferences for the next decade.
As a conservative Christian today, faith remains an important part of Pierce's life and she shares it in her many DVDs, CDs and books. She has had 10 successful albums and authored eight books, and received numerous awards. She currently holds the record for the most Gold and Platinum DVD certifications of any female comic.
“For me, these are simply affirmations that what I do resonates with someone,” Pierce said. “Being entertaining is one thing, but being effective — that’s the only reason to leave home at my age. Ha!”
Pierce has returned to the road again with her “Getting Back To Funny” tour after negotiating her way through pain, tragedy, grief and depression. She and her special guest, musician Karyn Williams, will appear in Destin at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at Village Baptist Church, 101 Matthew Blvd. Tickets, $27 general and $49.50 VIP, are available at www.itickets.com or www.chonda.org.
“I never leave home without knowing how I feel the show should end,” Pierce said. “Then I work backwards, adding entertaining elements, songs and stories that support the thesis of the night. It's been a formula that has worked for me for almost 25 years. This time, it's about getting back to the basics of what brought me this far — comedy and God.”