There’s a dearth of comics who appeal to conservatives. For every Dennis Miller, there are myriad Bill Mahers. J.P. Sears, who will perform Friday through Sunday at Spokane Comedy Club, didn’t intend to go that route, but his beliefs led him down that path.
Sears, 40, will wax about vaccinations, politics and marriage when he makes his Spokane debut this weekend. Sears, who crafts a pair of comedy clips each week at awakenwithjp.com, called from his Austin, Texas, home to chat about freedom, President Biden and pharmaceuticals – and Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated.
What inspired you to start making comedy videos?
The first one was “How to Be Ultra Spiritual.” It was me portraying an ultraspiritual person. Spirituality is super-important to me. I was living in California at the time, and I didn’t realize that the people who are ultra spiritual are very egotistical just like people are in other communities. My experience making the video was very enjoyable. I never had a creative outlet. After I made that first video, I wanted to make one more comedy video. I’ve been making one more comedy video for seven years.
What was it like taking your comedy to the stage, which is such a completely different animal?
It really is such a totally different animal. I was starting a whole new thing. I love it so much. Standup is such a challenge. You get instant feedback. The video and the standup is like playing two different instruments or having two different skills.
There’s not a lot of conservative comics out there. I asked Dennis Miller years ago if being the court jester for the right was a career move. Is it a career move for you?
I’m not smart enough for this to be a career move. But it’s turned out to be great for my career. When COVID hit, I started realizing our freedoms are being taken away. Things are not happening to protect people’s health. Our freedom was being taken away. I didn’t realize that freedom is my No. 1 value. Pro-freedom became a conservative movement. Giving up freedom became a movement on the left.
I was never political before, but I’m insanely behind freedom. I have conservative values. During the spring of 2020, me being pro-freedom caused some backlash. I realized if I spoke of my personal truth, I would possibly lose some of my audience, but I had to follow my heart and be true to myself. What happened is that my audience has grown exponentially since the majority of comics lean left. So few comics are conservative, and I play to a niche audience.
Who is your favorite conservative comic?
Since there aren’t many, I’m a fan of myself.
Is much of the freedom being taken away about getting a vaccination?
What matters most to me is personal choice. What doesn’t feel good is anti-freedom, which is when the government mandates choice for you through a mandate. I have friends who are vaccinated who are very much against vaccine mandates.
There are vaccine mandates in Australia and New Zealand, and the COVID numbers are very low in those countries. Wouldn’t a national mandate on masks and vaccinations help America contain the virus?
I love that question. But I do feel it would be an infringement on our freedom. I have friends in Australia, and there are a lot of horror stories of people being arrested walking their dogs and for walking in the park without a mask. It’s not just about stepping over a line regarding rights. It’s stepping a mile over the line.
What is your take on Kyrie Irving?
He’s the basketball player, right?
Yes, a very-well-compensated basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets who refuses to be vaccinated. Irving is unable to play. He says, but not in the most articulate manner, that he’s standing up for people who can’t be heard for the right to refuse being vaccinated.
Well, he is a basketball player, not a poet.
But he went to Duke.
I have a lot of respect for his choice. He’s choosing what’s right for himself. It’s not about advancing his basketball career.
But he’s letting his teammates down. If Kevin Durant knew Kyrie would bail, he might not have signed with the Brooklyn Nets. Isn’t what Irving is doing or not doing similar to Americans who refuse to vaccinate? That is letting down their fellow Americans?
We’re all adults. I don’t think people’s emotional states should not be factored in. I’ve played on teams. You don’t want to let your teammates down, but this is about your medical freedom. There will be scar tissue in this situation, but what I love most is Kyrie Irving is making his choice.
Kyrie doesn’t believe in vaccinations, but he also thinks the Earth is flat.
I have a friend who said, “J.P., this is going to sound crazy, but I’ve been looking into the Earth is flat videos. I can send some of those videos to you.’ I said, “Feel free to send them, but I probably won’t look at them.”
You joke that President Biden is a pharmaceutical salesman. But are you implying he’s getting kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies?
On a literal level, I doubt it. If there was a paper trail to him, it would be easy to spot. But I do know that the pharmaceutical industry has massive lobby forces in Washington. They make massive political contributions to campaign funds. What might be possible is that he’s doing some favors for businesses that have given him support on the campaign trail.
You are obviously not vaccinated, correct?
I am not. There are two reasons. I don’t feel that I’m at risk due to my age. To be quite frank, this is the most rushed vaccine in medical history.
Aren’t you concerned about potentially transmitting the virus to others?
Not at all. The vaccine doesn’t stop the spread of COVID.
It’s ironic that you live in one of the most liberal cities, but then again Austin is in Texas.
It’s a beautiful unification of the two extremes. Austin is pretty liberal, and Texas is pretty conservative. I love diversity, so Austin is the perfect storm of unity and diversity.
What comics inspired you as a kid?
Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious” is still so masterful. I got into Bill Hicks. He’s the first comic to use comedy to deliver a message.
What’s your message?
My message is to follow your heart. It sounds cliche, but when an individual follows their heart, the heart will never be misled.
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