Pensacola, Florida
Saturday February 23rd 2019


Hard Core Laughs

By Shelby Nalepa

Local comic group The Deadbeats of Comedy is bringing Laughcore—billed as a night of “comedy, rock and good times”—to chizuko Friday night.

Hosted by Bubbs Harris, Knoxville-based comedian J.C. Ratliff will be performing along with Cola Comedy Con founder John Gibson. Bands Blight and Paracosm will also be performing.

Ratliff has been on a comedy podcast, the Bone’s Lair Podcast, for about 10 years.

“The first few years, I was awful,” he said. “I started researching stand up pretty obsessively. It really helped. Around 2010 I found out Knoxville had an underground comedy scene and I started attending hoping to get guests. After a few weeks they told me that I had to get on stage. I wrote 5 minutes of material and came back the following week. I was hooked. It was the ultimate high.”

After a year and a half, Ratliff quit his day job and went on the road to pursue comedy full-time.

“I grew up as the broke, skinny kid, so humor became my best weapon,” he said. “I’ve always felt like the underdog court jester that thinks if he makes the queen laugh she will go home with him. I openly admit I’ve got a pretty twisted outlook on life, so it helps my comedy be different.”

Ratliff’s mother, an English professor, always encouraged him to speak the truth no matter if it was a popular opinion or not.

“That somehow mutated my writing and style,” he said. “She’s my biggest supporter, but it’s weird talking about your sex life with your mom in the audience.”

Ratliff was the first recruit of The Deadbeats of Comedy, founded by Harris five years ago.

“He’s one of the best friends I’ve ever made and I’ve been across the nation with him,” Ratliff said. “I’ve been here since the first show when no one knew who we were and I’ll be here for the bitter end.”

Ratliff said that he and Harris tour at least once a year, playing anywhere they thought people would like it.

“The idea was to be comics that don’t fit in playing for people that feel the same way,” he said. “That’s not to say we can’t play to everyone, but Deadbeats shows get crazy. We feed off the crowd, the crowd feeds off us. We’ve played everything from rock clubs, warehouses, dive bars, tiki bars, breweries and after parties for death metal bands. You name it, we’ve done it. Bubbs is kind of a genius because the people buying what we are selling are the best crowds you can get. If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, come see us. You’ll make friends for sure. We’ve got a very punk rock vibe to the whole thing.”

Ratliff said that over the years, he’s evolved as a comedian and his material has changed.

“When I started I was way more vulgar than I am now,” he said. “But the longer you stay on stage the more you evolve. And you get older and your tastes change. These days my sets are a bit more grown up but it’s still pretty dark in comparison to mainstream comedy. I don’t go for easy laughs. Social commentary has really become my jam over some of these people.”

Ratliff is also a recording a new album, “Patron Saint of Dismay” the day after Laughcore. He said that he found out he had a 7-year-old daughter during the creation of it.

“That will make you drop a lot of jokes fast because you don’t want to have to have your foot in your mouth later,” he said. “My new record has been through like 10 versions in the last two years. Things kept changing. Trump got elected. I almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning. I found out I’ve got a kid. Suddenly all the changes in life became the record. Every curveball replaced a joke. I decided on the name “Patron Saint of Dismay” because it sounds like the most ridiculous description of my act I could possibly come up with.”

Ratliff said that this album feels like he’s talking to an old friend about the last two years of his life.

“I’m amazed that after two years the jokes I wrote because something crazy just happened replaced all the other material because these jokes are better,” he said.

Ratliff has been touring for five years with the Deadbeats of Comedy, and is currently on the Quit Your Day Job tour with John Gibson.

“I love touring, but at 36 with a kid it gets weird,” he said. “The upside is seeing all the great audiences, seeing your friends, travel, roadside oddities and, of course, performing. The downside is the time in the car, sleeping on couches as a middle-aged man, missing your family, feeling starved or dehydrated, and the occasional promoter who doesn’t want to pay you. But the pros heavily outweigh the cons if you are crazy enough. Comedy is the best low paying job you could ever have.”

WHAT: A night of comedy and rock presented by The Deadbeats of Comedy
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17
WHERE: chizuko, 506 W. Belmont St.
COST: $7-$10