Raymond the Amish Comic: ‘Lost soul’ develops identity as a comedian
What do you call an ex-Amish man turned comedian? The ultimate identity crisis, you say?
Nah – it’s an actual person, and his name is Raymond the Amish Comic.
Raymond will perform at 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at The American Legion Post 0617, 901 S. Market St., South Williamsport.
The attempt to discover “true identity” is quite literally a lifelong feat filled with many phases and chapters and is likely not ever truly achieved.
But not discovering identity is not because of failure, but rather because it’s not a realistic or tangible goal. An identity is defined by a set of characteristics and the characteristics that make up a person inevitably change over time.
Such has been the case for our unique ex-Amish friend, Raymond. He frequently calls himself a lost soul.
His sort of soul-searching journey began at about “15 or 16 years old” when he left the Amish community during Rumspringa – an Amish tradition where, during adolescence, they temporarily leave their Amish community to experience the outside world. It ends when they either choose to be baptized into the community, or when they choose to leave. Raymond chose to leave.
Now, at 55 years old, he has spent more of his life in the outside world than he did in the Amish community.
Out here in the “outside world,” Raymond can be found on the weekends at a local comedy joint, on stage telling some of his favorite jokes, some of which include video bits of old people screaming obscenities at McDonald’s.
He likes to rant. He likes to swear. And he sweats a lot.
“I get all worked up, and when I’m done, I’m drenched. I pour my heart and soul on the stage,” Raymond said.
Some of that sweat probably comes from the “Amish garb” he wears for his acts, including his scraggly beard.
Though he uses the Amish act as his selling point, that’s not all his comedy focuses on. It’s simply the idea of going back to his Blue Ball, Lancaster County, Amish roots, and then doing and saying extremely un-Amish things that intrigues people and makes him stand out as a comedian.
A topic he likes to focus on especially, as part of his ironic comedy, is technology.
“I come out in full Amish garb, because there’s something sort of insane about a guy in Amish garb ranting about technology,” he said.
Raymond has been pouring his heart and soul into comedy for the last 22 years. He was sort of propelled into his career while working at a 9-to-5 screen-printing shop. He loathed the tension between co-workers, so to alleviate, he told jokes. He got by with a little help from his friends, and with a bit of encouragement, he stumbled his way into the comedy world. But it’s not easy.
“I have a lot of friends who aren’t in the show-biz anymore because of money. Lucky for me I don’t have any other skills to fall back on, so it’s all or nothing,” Raymond said. He trucks along, trying to book as many gigs as he can.
As long as he acquires enough money for a sustainable life for him and his family, a wife and daughter, and doesn’t have to get a “regular job,” he’s all right with this particular identity, here and now.
“I like who I am and I’m happy where I am,” he said.
“If there’s an HBO special somewhere in there, that’d be just fine,” he laughed.
He hopes his journey as a storyteller in comedy will continue for a long time to come.
Find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mr.amishcomic.