In Jamaica, music dominates the live-entertainment scene. Christopher “Johnny” Daley is out to change that. The actor, producer and comedian recently opened Johnny’s Place, Kingston’s first venue dedicated to stand-up comedy. “My vision is to provide a place where young local comics can explore their talent weekly,” he says, “but also bring in international acts monthly, to expose our comedians and audiences to that level of comedy.”
Daley rose to fame as a child actor in the 1980s, playing the character Johnny on the TV series Lime Tree Lane. He then appeared in theatrical productions and movies before moving to stand-up comedy. He produced and starred in Comedy Buss, a TV talent search for the island’s best comedians.
He represented Jamaica in the Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person in the World competition in 2016. “I learned so much about what was happening in comedy outside of the Caribbean,” he says. That exposure inspired him to launch Johnny Live Comedy Bar, a weekly stand-up show that served as the precursor for Johnny’s Place. Because of the pandemic, Johnny’s Place has a hybrid online format, but Daley can’t wait to welcome a sold-out crowd in person. “Jamaican comedy is still in the growth stage,” he says. “But it’s happening, and it has been satisfying to see young people finding their voices as comedians.”
What distinguishes Jamaican comedy? Religion is a major part of who we are. Because of that influence, audiences tend to be more particular about their ears, so we comedians are more restricted in our ability to speak freely about topics compared to Americans.
How would you describe your comedy? It’s authentically Jamaican in that my stories are human stories, storytelling that mixes reality and satire. I like to find the absurdities and ironies of life and have fun on stage.
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To-Do List Around Kingston
Blue Mahoe Estate Caffe (Kingston): It’s a quaint, quiet cafe with excellent service and great coffee.
Ziggy’s (Kingston): They cook authentic Jamaican food such as oxtail, country-friend chicken, rice and peas.
Ben & Sons (Hellshire Beach, Portmore): They make great steamed fish, and my wife likes their fried lobster.
Irish Town: I like to drive up to Irish Town in the Blue Mountain range to clear my mind. The air is so fresh and clean; it seems like you can touch the sky.