Lost in Translation

Comedian likes a good redneck joke, even if some of his audiences don't.

Cleveland theater
Stand-up comic Lou Ramey says his southern-fried jokes lose something when they cross the Mason-Dixon line. For example, Texas audiences love his bit about Homeland Security: “They don’t need it, because they have rednecks.” But that gag often falls flat up north, says the Georgia-bred comedian, who’s black. “Apparently, the word ‘redneck’ means something totally different in New England,” he says. “It’s almost like if you say it in Boston, you come off as being racist. I’ve had that joke turn on me.”

Unlike many funnymen, Ramey didn’t hone his skills in the clubs. He made his bones at family resorts. And because his audiences were frequently made up of folks from other countries, he needed to adopt a more universal type of comedy. So his redneck riffs went out the door -- at least for a time. Now, they’re a familiar and popular part of his act. While he likes playing the entire country, Ramey says he prefers the South -- if only for the standing ovations he receives down there. Plus, they get his jokes. “They have guns,” he says.
July 11-12, 8 p.m.; July 13-14, 7:30 & 10:15 p.m.; Sun., July 15, 7:30 p.m.

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