At the Village of Alsip Police Department in Illinois, Jim Perry served in a number of roles: law enforcement trainer, DARE officer, media relations officer, crime prevention officer and hostage negotiator.
Nowadays, the Gilbert resident serves up a belly full of laughter with JP’s Comedy Club, which he opened in September on Warner Road.
“I had about 10 years on and unfortunately I got hurt,” Perry says. “I messed up my shoulder very bad and it ended my career.”
Perry, who was the top graduate in his police academy class, was injured after he volunteered to be tased during a training exercise.
That set him on his new career path.
“I’ve always been a big fan of comedy all my life,” Perry says. “I was the guy who would listen to George Carlin and Richard Pryor in the basement of the house.”
Throughout his life, friends and family told him he should do comedy. His mother was one of them. She acknowledges his smart-aleck comments.
Perry, who was a bit of a jokester in school and would pull pranks on his fellow officers, says transitioning to his stand-up gig was easy.
The 2004 Officer of the Year had also performed countless fundraising shows when off duty for groups like American Legion, The 100 Club and cancer organizations.
“I was the DARE officer and the PR guy, always the talker,” he says. “And I was the hostage negotiator guy who made things lighter.”
He now taps into his police background for his routines, poking light-hearted fun at his former brothers in blue and is known as “The Cop Comic.”
“It’s silly stuff, not like making fun of them in a disparaging way—cops like doughnuts,” Perry says. “Nothing bad.”
One of his stand-up cop jokes goes like this:
“Some have asked why I wanted to become a police officer. The truth is discounted food. Yeah, you show your badge and ID at a Chipotle, 50% off. You show your gun, 100% off.”
Taking his show on the road was hard work and his wife wanted him to stay local. So, when the opportunity presented itself, he opened up the comedy club, the first in Gilbert.
The club showcases local comedic talent and national touring entertainers.
The club also includes a school for those who want to learn how to make people laugh. Teacher is well-known comic Tony Vicich, owner of comedyschools.com.
Year-round classes include stand up, sketch, improv, writing labs, comedy workshops and camps for kids.
“It’s on a lot of people’s bucket list to take comedy classes and do stand up,” says Perry, who grew up in Chicago and entered the Navy right out of high school.
Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are reserved for classes while Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are for the stand-up shows.
Sundays are saved for private events where an entertainer can book the space for a fee and keep 100% of the door and ticket revenues.
Perry tries to perform twice a week, opening up for the main act. The former Desert Storm veteran says the shows at the club are for 21 and older with “clean” comedy offered once or twice a month.
The club follows health protocols such as masks, limiting the 100-seat capacity to half and social distancing. Tickets start at $15.
So far, people are giving the venue a thumbs up with one man on social media writing, “Recently attended a show here. I had a great time and got to see some very funny comics.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in the country and many businesses hit hard in the wallet, Perry, nonetheless, opened his business.
Perry says he’s always gone against the grain.
“I believe in doing the opposite of what the mass are doing,” he said. “In ’08 when the housing market was crashing, my wife and I bought a bunch of houses as an investment and when things went back to normal, we flipped those houses.
“I had the same mindset when COVID happened with businesses shutting down. I got a good lease and good rent.
“When I see things as bad, I look at it as an opportunity. I think it will end and things will get better. This is like a dream for me, a passion project. It’s fun and may turn into something and may pay the rent.”
JP’s Comedy Club
860 E. Warner Road, Gilbert