Once upon a time, comedy stardom meant years in the grungy trenches of the club circuit before signing on with a team of agents and managers to carefully craft a polite progressive image for major studio appeal. But conservative comedian J.P. Sears says those days are over, and there’s no longer any reason for aspiring funny-men and women to sign their lives away to the left-wing Hollywood machine.
Sears, who has nearly two million subscribers to his YouTube channel, has struck a nerve with a public weary of virtue signaling and woke politicking. One of his parody skits from a few years ago, “If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans,” has racked up more than 14 million views. Another posted last week, mocking the Biden administration’s door-to-door campaign to promote the Covid-19 vaccine, scored a million in mere days.
Sears says that’s because the public is hungry for messages of freedom that also provide the pressure valve release of laughter.
“People love to be a part of the freedom movement,” he tells the Daily Wire in an exclusive interview. “They love to have someone voice what everyone is thinking but not saying. They want to hear others calling out corruption.”
While there was a time Sears might have called himself a political independent, these days, his commitment to liberty has firmly aligned him with the conservative side of the aisle.
“Right now,” he says, “the significant political corruption seems to be coming from the Left, and the Left has been radicalized in just a very communist direction. Freedom is my number one personal value. And right now, the Right is pro freedom. The Left is anti freedom. It’s very simple.”
That commitment to freedom is what ultimately led Sears to shift his professional focus from health and wellness to comedy.
He began his career as a straightforward life coach, and you’ll still find the red-head offering plenty of heartfelt advice on his channel, albeit tucked in amongst sketches where he pokes fun at his own long-haired hippie style. In fact, it was an experiment making fun of his personal interests with a video titled “How to Be Ultra Spiritual,” that led to a major shift in his career path.
“I’ve always had a strong sense of humor,” he explains, “But I wasn’t letting my true comedic self out in the professional realm because I thought it would discredit me. I thought I was supposed to be serious.” When he took a risk with humor, however, he found it instantly resonated with his audience. “Once I walked through that door, there was momentum that I started surfing.”
Since then, he says, he’s just been “Forest Gump’ing” his way along, making as many parody sketches as he can. And like the beloved character, he’s covered a lot of miles. Check the “events” page on Sears’ website and you’ll find a host of tour dates and headlining speaking engagements. He believes that the climate of fear and speech suppression currently dominating the traditional American entertainment industry has created a hole in the market that has allowed comics like him, who are willing to step out in courage, to benefit.
“At heart, one of the most important things about good comedy is truth,” he says. “If there’s no truth embedded in the joke, the sketch is not gonna land with people because there’s nothing to connect them. So you connect with the audience in comedy via the relatability of truth. But right now, there’s way more demand than there is supply for truth-telling comedians. In a way, it’s a great time to be a truth-telling comedian because the competition’s so low.”
While there aren’t nearly as many influences to draw on these days when it comes to authenticity and honesty in stand-up, Sears says he is inspired by acts like Dave Chappelle, who he calls a major influence on his work.
“He is probably the person in the world who is most untouchable to cancel culture,” Sears says of the “Sticks and Stones” stand-up. “And therefore, he’s not afraid to lose anything because he doesn’t have anything they can take away because Dave Chappelle is bigger than cancel culture. He’ll go into identity politics, speaking His truth. And he seems very unafraid.”
Beyond Chappelle, Sears looks to classic comics like Bill Hicks and George Carlin as examples of how to do comedy with integrity.
“Hicks had a purpose. He called out corruption. And he was truly helping wake people up,” Sears shares. Of Carlin he points out how his famous “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television” bit didn’t just make audiences laugh, it made them think.
Reflecting on acts like that and the impact they have had on the culture is what keeps Sears from worrying about the opportunities he may be missing as a result of his openly conservative views. He argues that any gigs he might lose out on aren’t opportunities he would welcome anyway.
“You know,” he says, “If Hollywood came knocking on my door, I would say no. Because our values aren’t aligned, I’m not out to be a part of woke propaganda, trying to convince people that the stuff they’re peddling is helpful for you when ultimately I think it’s destructive.”
At the end of the day, he feels the new paradigm of connecting with an audience individually offers both more autonomy and greater job security.
“I think the old model of making it in entertainment was a very disempowering model,” he says. “You needed someone else with more control than you to discover you and then give you opportunities and ultimately give you money and success.”
No more, Spears contends.
“I’m someone who created their own audience based on material that their minds and hearts are inspired to share. That’s very hard to take away,” he argues. “We live in this world now where you don’t need a middleman to give you opportunities. You don’t need a middleman to give you money. In fact, saying yes to those old world opportunities is oftentimes a step down in success.”
Megan Basham is an Entertainment Reporter for The Daily Wire and an approved Rotten Tomatoes Critic. You can follow her on Twitter @megbasham.