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Chonda Pierce is a best-selling comedienne with an audience of 1.5 million nationwide. She has worked with Billy Graham, wowed the Grand Ole Opry, made major television appearances, written eight books (four are children's books) and has four gold-certified comedy videos. But more important to her is the fact that her shtick – sidesplitting stories about real life, from babyhood to motherhood to grannyhood – is as pure as Ivory soap. Pierce is more than happy to be the 'queen of clean' because her comedy serves a larger purpose, "The punch line is not the bottom line," she says. "You've got to end up somewhere that counts."
"All my projects have Christian content. They all talk about what I'm learning about God and his love," she says. "For example, 'Four-Eyed Blond' was about mercy, to encourage people to lighten up on each other and themselves. 'On Her Soap Box' was about the fatherhood of God. 'Be Afraid' talks about the comfort of God when you're frightened. And the latest, 'Have I Got A Story For You!' is about what sets Christians apart – the redemption of Jesus Christ, the crucifixion, the sacrifice…and how it impacts our lives today. That really is the greatest story ever told, and for once in my career, I wanted to make sure that I had articulated THAT loud and clear."
Then again, Chonda Pierce has never just been in it for the laughs. "Comedy is about so much more than exaggerating the truth or delivering a great punch line," Chonda says. "It ultimately starts with the truth." And leave it to Chonda Pierce, a mother of two to be the only one with the chutzpah to tell the absolute truth.
"The Christian community takes itself so seriously." Chonda continues. "And believe me there are a lot of things to be absolutely serious about. But comedy is one of the greatest gifts, one of the greatest tools – an emotion given to us by a Creator that planned on us using it from time to time! And if we can use humor to leave someone feeling positive about life, hopeful about the future and looking at a committed life as a Christ-follower then, 'Why not!?'"
"I don't know where the title Christian Comedian came from." Chonda snickers, "I'm a stand-up comedian. That's what I do for a living AND I happen to be a born-again Christian. Something that the entertainment world finds downright scary!" Chonda laughs.
Chonda Pierce began her interest in Comedy during a six-year stint at a theme park in Nashville, Tennessee, called Opryland, USA. "I was a Theater Arts major at Austin Peay University and went to the park to pay my college bill. I wound up in a show called Country Music, USA and didn't know a thing about country music!" Furthermore, growing up in an ultra conservative Pastor's home, Chonda didn't know how to dance. A major requirement for theme park entertainers. "In order to keep my job I had to memorize a couple of pages of jokes from Grinders Switch, Tennessee, and impersonate Cousin Minnie Pearl. I was hooked! I loved the sound of an audience laughing more so than the applause after a song or dramatic sketch."
The journey from Opryland to present day filled the pages of two of the four books Chonda Pierce has written. Her autobiography has been written out in two different books focusing on several different episodes in Chonda's life: "Second Row, Piano Side" (Beacon Hill Press) and "It's Always Darkest Before the FUN Comes Up" (Zondervan).
"I was a teenager when life in my "seemingly" perfect southern preacher's kid world fell apart. My older sister, Charlotta was killed in a car accident (she was 20), several months later my little sister became seriously ill and died in 21 days after being diagnosed with Leukemia (she was 15)." During those grieving months Chonda's father left town. "My father was bipolar and so to tell you the truth, his leaving was no real shocker – but his timing certainly left much to be desired."
Chonda's older brother had already married and moved out of state, which meant Chonda and her mother had to start all over again in a one bedroom apartment in Nashville, Tennessee. "We were broke, tired and beaten down. Let me tell you, you'll find out if there's a God when you have to share a bedroom with your mother!"
Those were dark days indeed, but the FUN eventually did come back into Chonda's life and she went on to marry her high school sweetheart, David Pierce. Chonda beams, "David is my partner in ALL things." A successful writer in his own field, they have also co-authored four children's books. "David and I write most all of the material on my comedy projects and in books, but our most successful collaboration in our more than 20 year marriage is a daughter and a son!"
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