Comedian Juanita Lolita ends her set with a statement rarely heard inside comedy clubs.
"I'm not sure if you realized it," she says. "But I just did an entire set of clean comedy."
By clean comedy, Juanita, 52, means she does not use foul language or lewd subject matter to elicit laughs.
The St. Petersburg-based comic, who attends Calvary Chapel Fellowship Church, jokes about life as a wife, mother and grandmother.
She was a recent finalist in the World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas and travels the country performing at venues ranging from churches to city night spots.
On July 18, she will perform at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, at 1239 W. Dell Webb Boulevard in Sun City Center. Admission is $10. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
I spoke to Juanita Lolita (yes, that's her real first and middle name) about cracking jokes and following God's plan.
How did you get started doing comedy?
I was working one night performing improv at a murder mystery dinner theater. Someone from the cast said I should do stand up and signed me up for an open mic. It was amazing.There was a contest. I entered and won. Within two weeks, I had nine bookings. A year later, I was performing in front of 7,000 women at a conference in Atlanta.
Why did you decide to pursue the circuit full time?
I was stocking shelves at Publix and mowing lawns when God started pushing me to really do comedy. Doing open mics, I saw how dark and dirty comedy had become. One night, a waitress saw me after a set and said, "You're a Christian woman, right?" She asked me to pray with her and that's when I began to realize comedy was where God really wanted me to be. I quit my job at Publix, hung up my mover and started traveling the country making people laugh. That's the short version of the story, anyway.
What role does faith play in your act?
I don't do church comedy. I do clean comedy about everyday life. So, I do the same act in churches that I do in comedy clubs. To me, it's normal life that's funny. I do a joke, a true story, about a woman in my Bible study who told me I needed a fishnet bodysuit to put the spark back in my marriage.
At the end of my sets, I say I do clean comedy to give glory and honor to God. That's why I call my act Stand Up for Him. For me, it's about bringing Jesus into a place that he really isn't. When other comedians ask how I've been successful so fast, I tell them, 'It's not what you know, it's who you know' and I point to the sky.
For more information, visit juanitalolita.com.
Contact Sarah Whitman at firstname.lastname@example.org.