Ron Perkinson may be “circling the drain,” as he says. But if that’s true, he’s been at it for a while now.
Perkinson, who calls himself a “recovering attorney,” has been at the stand-up comedy game as a side gig for decades now, but a series of health scares in recent years got him motivated to take the stage here in Sanford last year for what he expected to be a one-off show he labeled the “Circling the Drain tour” wherein he – along with other nationally-known comics – detailed some of his physical challenges in completely hilarious fashion.
But it wasn’t long before Perkinson realized he was itching for more. “Circling the Drain 2” is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31 at the Temple Theatre in downtown Sanford.
“Right after the holidays, I realized I was bored,” said Perkinson, who’s been performing off and on since 1983 and has worked alongside nationally-known talent like Jay Leno and Paul Reiser. “I’m retired. I really didn’t have a raison d’etre. I just needed something to do.”
People attending the show who are familiar with Perkinson can expect plenty of his trademark humor – observational, satirical musings on topics ranging from his work in the legal world to his upbringing in rural Warren County, as well as his own health – alongside some new material he’s been honing for the last year.
“I have maybe ten minutes of new material, which is right much, but I think every time the Rolling Stones do a concert, they play ‘Brown Sugar,’” he said. “I’m not gonna repeat my material necessarily, but if you’re in the audience you may experience a feeling of deja vu.”
Performing with Perkinson will be two Sanford natives who’ve made careers in comedy elsewhere.
Maggie Champagne graduated from Lee County High School in 1993 and left for college in New York City, where she’s gone on to a multi-decade career writing and performing as both a stand-up and as an actor (including appearances on “Inside Amy Schumer” and the “Law and Order” franchise).
“I have a two-year-old daughter, and I talk a lot in my act about life as a parent,” Champagne told the Rant. “I had been so career-driven, and I woke up at 40 and I was like ‘I gotta have a kid.’ The other day I bent down to pick something up and I groaned. Then my two-year-old copied me. There’s a lot of stuff like that in my act.”
Champagne says her style of comedy is less observational and more focused on storytelling, and also includes plenty of material from the days before she was a parent. She’s excited to return home and perform at the Temple, where she spent a whole lot of time in her years as a kid in Sanford.
“I grew up there,” she said. “Picturing it, thinking about it – I just can’t wait to be up there on that stage. Those are my people.”
Perkinson said Champagne has been a friend of his daughter’s since childhood, and so it made sense to bring her on.
“I was a carpool driver for Maggie when she was in eighth and ninth grade with my daughter,” he explained. “So on a lark I just texted her about whether she wanted to do a show here. She texted back right away.”
Paul Pittman’s story is similar to Perkinson’s – by day, he’s a certified financial advisor and consultant, while he’s made a separate career of comedy in clubs and on the corporate event circuit.
Pittman, who lived in Sanford from the late 60s to the mid 80s and still has plenty of family here, said his act is rooted in his business career.
“I always wondered what I thought was funny, if other people did too,” he said. “So I talk a lot about the business world, and the goal is to make it funny. With my background, at first I tried to keep the two worlds separate, but a friend of mine told me ‘you are who you are,’ so I just talk about what I know. I have a lot of clients now actually who come to my shows.”
This will also be Pittman’s first show in Sanford, after years of having friends in the area travel to Raleigh and elsewhere to watch him perform.
“I’ve never done a show in my hometown,” he said. “I’ve never been inside the Temple Theatre. So I’m really looking forward to coming home and seeing the Temple and doing a show here.”
Perkinson said it wasn’t his intent from the outset to bring a lineup of comedians with Sanford ties back to town, but he understands the concept is a good one.
“Once Maggie committed and Paul got in touch, I realized – what a great hook,” he said. “It all came together so easily. The hardest thing was finding a date at the Temple.”
Ron Perkinson’s Circling the Drain 2 is live at the Temple Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on May 31. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.templeshows.com or by visiting the Temple Theatre box office at 120 Carthage St.