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Chonda Pierce

Author of  Laughing in the Dark

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Chonda Pierce's Bio:

With an audience of two million faithful fans and five gold-certified comedy albums, Chonda Pierce is the most requested guest artist for the Women of Faith Conferences. She has worked with Billy Graham, sells out most concerts on her schedule and has made the list of largest touring audiences in most entertaining magazines.

Chonda has appeared more than a dozen times on the famous stage of The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN, following in the footsteps of much beloved comedienne, Minnie Pearl. "I may have replaced the gingham dress and price-tag hat with irreverent leather pants, but I have held onto what Ms. Minnie taught me---that comedy can be clean and still be funny!" And itís Pierceís own use of personal narrative and everyday stories in her comedy sets that have branded her "The Queen of Clean."

After 15 years in comedy, Pierce finds herself in a position to mentor young comedians through the newly formed Christian Comedy Association. "Many new comics that began their careers working Comedy Clubs ask me, "How do you get thousands of people to buy a ticket to a comedy concert?" She laughs and answers, "Same way you get an arena of church folks to loosen up without a two-drink minimum! One laugh at a time!"

Chonda believes it was that same principle that rebuilt her life after a childhood of challenges and disappointments---one laugh at a time. "Amazingly, my first job in entertainment was a six-year stint at a theme park in Nashville, TN called Opryland, USA. I was a Theater Arts major at Austin Peay University and went to the park to pay my college bill." Since growing up in an ultra conservative pastorís home, this preacherís kid from the South didnít know how to dance. "In order to keep my job I had to memorize a couple of pages of jokes from Grinders Switch, TN and impersonate Cousin Minnie Pearl. I was hooked! I loved the sound of an audience laughing. It was just the medicine I needed."

Two of Chondaís eight books chronicle the journey from dysfunction to dishing out fun: Second Row, Piano Side (Beacon Hill Press) and Itís Always Darkest before the Fun Comes Up (Zondervan). Chonda lost both of her sisters at a young age. "My older sister, Charlotta was killed in a car accident (she was 20)," Chonda says. "Several months later my little sister became seriously ill and died in 21 days after being diagnosed with leukemia (she was 15). My father struggled with manic depression (bipolar) most all of my life and the inconsistency of his personal life challenged my thinking about God at a young age. And then, I got a job laughing and THAT was the medicine I needed."

All comedy is subjective. "In my line of work itís not about Ďjust being clean or conservative.í" she says. "Thatís easy---Iím a Christian! But being a Christian comedian can be hard. We have denominational boundaries, theological differences and many churchgoers are just getting used to the idea that Christians can actually laugh at themselves! I know Iím a bit edgy for some folks. Trust me, I donít leave my house hoping and praying I can really disappoint a room full of people today." When asked how she handles the negative comments regarding what she does Chonda states: "I can understand the Hollywood world being a bit timid about me. Iíve spent too many years being loud and bold about my faith and I just donít fit there, I guess. I will get 50 e-mails in one day heralding the fun that my comedy has brought into their homes and then get the meanest e-mail from some sweet soul IN the Church. They not only disliked my style of comedy---they think Iím doomed for hell! Sometimes, you just canít win."

Outside the comedy, Pierce is a spokesperson for World Vision and The House of Hope in Orlando, Fla. She also actively promotes New Frontiers Camp in Dowelltown, TN and The Funny Farm, a cabin retreat for pastors and missionaries started by Pierce and her husband, David, in middle Tennessee.

Pierce resides in Nashville, Tennessee.