THE NEW ME: “It’s a unique experience, and I see that the Lord is doing something in my life,” Ellis says of embracing his new chapter.
For the past quarter-century, Ian ‘Ity’ Ellis has been serving up whip-smart comedy routines with his rotund partner-in-rhyme Alton ‘Fancy Cat’ Hardware. Together, they do serious damage, blending wit, keen observations of Jamaican life and social commentary to create laugh-out-loud entertainment.
These days, something new is happening in Ity’s life. Not only has he given his life to the Lord; he’s melded his Christian faith and comedy genius into a business venture branded as “praise and laughter,” which he and his creative team will be heavily promoting for the rest of the year and beyond.
TALLAWAH caught up with the 40-something entertainer, businessman and popular emcee at Monday’s Unity in the City gospel bash at the National Indoor Sports Centre to talk about his Christian walk, his serious side, and celebrating a major career milestone.
TALLAWAH: How have you been finding the Christian-life experience? Has the church embraced you?
Ity Ellis: Since I made the change January 1st of last year, it has been wonderful. As you know, my genre is comedy, where it’s all about fun and laughter, but the church has really embraced me. I’m doing more events like these, and the response has been good. It’s a unique experience, and I see that the Lord is doing something in my life. I’m also building my own brand called “praise and laughter”, so the work continues.
TALLAWAH: What has surprised you the most since making the transition?
Ity Ellis: I think what has come as the biggest surprise for me is the amount of experts outside of Christianity who are telling Christians how they should live; people who are not Christians behaving like experts.
TALLAWAH: So what would you say is your role now as a new man in Christ?
Ity Ellis: My role is to live a life that people can see Christ in me and come to know Christ.
TALLAWAH: You’ve been serving as a brand ambassador for mobile giants Flow for a while. What’s that like?
Ity Ellis: I’m a free agent now, but I still do some work with them from time to time, appearing on different shows, emceeing, performing. I did have a contract with them, but I’m not working with them in that capacity any more.
TALLAWAH: Your comedic partnership with Fancy Cat still gets people rolling in the aisles wherever you go. Are you still as thrilled about stand-up comedy as when you just started out?
Ity Ellis: Absolutely. This year, I’m celebrating 25 years of my comedic partnership with Fancy Cat. This is our 10th year doing The Ity & Fancy Cat Show. So we’re giving thanks. It’s still fun, it’s still exciting, but my friends say I shouldn’t let the church get me too serious. (Laughs).
TALLAWAH: So there is a serious side to you.
Ity Ellis: Yes, definitely. When it comes to God I am very serious.
TALLAWAH: How will the rest of the year play out for you? What are you most looking forward to?
Ity Ellis: As I said, it’s the 10th year of The Ity & Fancy Cat Show, so we have major plans to celebrate that milestone. We also plan to put on a big show later this year in support of the whole “praise and laughter” brand that we are promoting.
TALLAWAH: That’s a lot to look forward to. When you reflect on your journey to this point, how do you feel about your life in general?
Ity Ellis: It feels good; it feels wonderful. I have life, can’t complain. And having that life now extends beyond the physical realm. For me, life is now eternal through Christ.