For stand-up comic John Marshall Jones, even something as horrible as the city's recent riots can be a laughing matter.
At the Comedy Act Theatre in South-Central Los Angeles, where he appears regularly, Jones this week took on the Rodney G. King beating with: "They keep saying that racism had nothing to do with it. Of course, race has nothing to do with it. If you're the baton."
Jones, currently appearing in "White Men Can't Jump," always puts topical material like that in his comedy routines. "It's our responsibility as artists to attack injustice in a way that politicians are not able to," says the 29-year-old performer. "We have the ability to reach people on an emotional level and affect the way they see, feel and view the world. We (can bring information) to the audience in a way they can absorb it, laugh about it and release their emotions."
Detroit-born Jones performed with Second City and other theater companies in Chicago and elsewhere before heading to Los Angeles in 1987 to do TV, film and theater.
Besides appearing in such films as "Good Morning, Vietnam" and "The Doctor," he was featured in a recent workshop production of Hollye Leven's new musical, "Funny Business."
Coming up is "Welcome Aboard," a half-hour film Jones has written and plans to co-direct, produce and star in this summer. He also expects to continue his stand-up work with appearances Thursdays and Fridays at the Comedy Act and occasional spots in Santa Monica at the Improv and the Upfront Comedy Showcase.
"I'm trained as an actor, but acting is more of an interpretative art--you're interpreting the artist's words," Jones says. "Comedy is the naked truth--it's just you and a microphone and your thoughts and feelings."