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Raymond noting 20th year as 'Amish Comic'

  • Raymond the Amish Comic will be doing his 20th anniversary show at Penn's Peak, Saturday.
    Raymond the Amish Comic will be doing his 20th anniversary show at Penn's Peak, Saturday.
Published July 07. 2011 05:01PM

Raymond the Amish Comic won't say whether he's actually Amish.

"That's up to the audience to figure out," he laughed.

For 20 years, he's held claim as being the only "Amish comic" in America.

His 20th anniversary show will actually be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

One word of caution: The show contains adult content and children will not be admitted.

Raymond got his start as a comedian virtually by accident.

"My career actually started in the toilet," he said.

He explained that he used to call a Lehigh Valley radio station frequently and say "silly stuff."

He became known to the disc jockeys and soon they were calling him at his place of employment. They called him at 8 a.m. He would pretend to he had to go to the bathroom. There he would take his cell phone and wait for the call so his employer wouldn't hear him.

"I got to be a local celebrity," he said, which got him gigs on small stages in the Lehigh Valley.

While taking a Christmas vacation in 1996, he was fired and began doing the comedy full time.

"In my career I've been blessed," he said. "I was on the Tim Allen show 'For Richer or Poorer.' I rubbed elbows with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull."

He noted that last year he was on NBC's "America's Got Talent."

In the business of comedy, though, keeping audiences coming is important. Especially since the big nights for comedy shows are usually only Saturdays and Sundays.

He has performed in Lancaster, the heart of Amish country.

Of Lancaster, he said, "The locals just love me. I'm a victim of my own celebrity down there."

He mentioned that during some of his shows in Lancaster, a group of young Amish guys would attend. Never Amish girls.

"I don't pick on them," he said. "They all drink Yuengling Light. My show isn't Amish one-on-one."

Asked if he ever got feedback from the Amish, he responded, "None. I think they're too busy with their lives. I believe I would be considered a lost soul. I'm just viewed as silliness."

Although his act is for adults, and admittedly contains frequent vulgarity, he said, "The casinos which promote sex and gambling are reluctant to hire comedians who curse."

He said, "My show is for adults only. There's no hate in my works, but I use curse words like an exclamation point. It's the rebel in me."

Raymond has a wife and a teenage daughter who is planning a career in theater. He said he tries to keep his personal life private.

He said every once in a while someone gets his home phone number and calls him, which causes him concern.

The comic said he is very proud of his family, noting that when you're a comedian there are often periods when no work is available.

"When it's lean times around here, they are so amazing," he said of his wife and daughter.

He admits the economy has hurt. "The way the economy has been, pretty much everything in the entertainment world has taken a hit," he said.

The toughest show Raymond ever did was in the Catskills early in his career.

His agent asked him if he wanted to do a show with Ron Palillo who played Horshak on "Welcome Back Cotter."

Of course he did, so he accepted the job - even though it only paid $150.

When he arrived at the venue, he discovered it was an Italian club. He was introduced as an Italian comic and made an effort to accommodate the management.

"I gave it my best shot as Raymond the Italian Comic," he said. "The night didn't go as well as I thought it would."

Raymond said the show on Saturday is very important to him.

"This is the most important show in my life," he said. "It's a make-it or break-it show."

He said he loves performing at Penn's Peak. "It's the most amazing venue I've ever performed in," he said. "It's a great wooden theater."

Regarding whether he has an Amish heritage, he said, "The audience loves to come and have great debates as to whether I have ever been Amish or whether I'm real or just a cartoon."

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