Ron Bush is not your typical standup comedian. Raised in West Philadelphia in a strict Southern Baptist family, his rebellious streak kicked in at age 13 when his parents divorced. He started to rap, promoting parties with the likes of Jazzy Jeff and MC Rell while also dealing drugs. But a friend’s father stepped in and told him he would hire him to work in the semiconductor industry if he finished college, and Bush soon found himself making up to $250,000 annually in that high-tech industry.
When the tech-manufacturing industry crashed as part of the dot.com bubble burst in 2000, Bush was a “functioning drug addict.” He lost everything including self-identity and hope. It’s during that time that he had his spiritual awakening and got into holistic living and meditation, and went sober. With this clarity, he evaluated what he wanted to do with his life and decided to pursue comedy. He joined the legendary Second City, graduated as an alumnus and started producing the long-running Flipped Out Comedy show with John Coppola.
Bush likes to say the definition of comedy is truth and pain. And the number one rule of comedy is relatability. The style Bush developed is a unique blend of personal stories, mixed with current social commentary to make a point. He covers everything from equality and homophobia to religion and politics. He speaks with psychologists, theologians, professors, and community elders to better craft perspectives and lessons learned that he presents in his jokes.
“I think what I do is three-fourths stand-up and one-third performance art with a heavy dose of ridiculous,” Bush said.
The career switch has paid off. Ron headlines shows nationwide, has landed significant roles in four indie films over the past three years, is about to shoot a sitcom he wrote and developed, and is planning his first major tour with other comedians this fall. You can catch his insane brand of comedy when he performs at “Green Pig Gives”, a Utah Pride Center fundraiser on May 24. Drawing from his colorful past, as well as his perspective as an out and proud gay black man, Bush is sometimes called “The Scariest Gay Man in America.”
“There’s a point to everything I say onstage because I just don’t tell jokes to tell jokes,” said Bush, who also co-hosts the podcast “The Problem Solvers Comedy Podcast” with comic Mike Muratore.
Bush said, “I tackle all types of subject matter from the perspective of who I am socially, racially, and sexually. I have a joke called ‘American Spirit’ that is about the misinformation we talk about in discussing the history of America, and I compare us to other countries with a history of genocide.”
“I did that in front of a half-military crowd, and I saw the journey that they went through,” he continued. “Keeping it light and silly as well as factual was something that audiences couldn’t deny. Sometimes someone may not be laughing, but they’re learning and you’re making them think. It’s all about speaking truth to power.”
Ron Bush benefit performances
Utah Pride Center fundraiser on Thursday, May 24, 7:30 p.m., at The Green Pig, 31 E. 400 South. Tickets $5. Call 801-532-PIG1 or visit FlippedOutComedy.com for more information.
Black Lives Matter fundraiser on Thursday, May 31, 7 p.m., at Wiseguys Comedy Club, 194 S. 400 West. Tickets $10, wiseguyscomedy.com.