Pam Stone is quick to tell you she’s not a comedian or actress — she’s an equestrian.
Throughout her extensive career, Stone has worked in all forms of media, from TV to radio to print. She’s well-known for her seven year stint on “Coach,” her many years doing stand-up comedy, and her columns, which appear in The Gaston Gazette and The Shelby Star, as well as The Spartanburg Herald-Journal. On Saturday, Oct. 6, she will be at The Gazette’s Women’s Expo to autograph copies of her latest book, “Girls Like Her.”
But at the end of the day, what she does she does for the horses.
“There’s comedians that have to be on stage, actors that have to act. I’ve never been one of those. I loved them, but they were just jobs to ride,” she said.
An early love
Stone was born in Marietta, Georgia. She doesn’t usually have the southern drawl you’d expect, though she does note, “I do if I have a couple drinks.”
She grew up with three siblings and an English mother and German father.
Her love for horses started in childhood.
“I’ve never been without a horse since I was 8,” she said. “My sister had a horse before I had a horse. I remember seeing it for the first time and that was it.”
A new set
Stone studdied journalism in college. To pay for school, she got a job waitressing at a comedy club that booked top performers like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno.
“I remember leaning against the wall with my little waitress uniform and said, ‘It doesn’t look that hard,’” she said.
That was in the 1980s, when comedy was still very much male-dominated.
“When I started, 1 out of every 100 comics was a woman, and there were very few headliners,” she said.
What made Stone stand out among other comediennes was taking a different approach to comedy. Rather than doing bits about diets, periods and guys who leave the toilet seat up, her material focused on subjects all genders could relate to.
Stone’s best known role is probably on the sitcom “Coach.”
Two television producers attended The Ice House, a comedy club in Pasadena, California, to see a comedian scheduled to perform before Stone. The two liked Stone’s set better and approached her about reading for the part of a southern woman going to D.C. as a congresswoman.
“They said, ‘We can’t start working until we finish what we’re working on, which is a mid-season replacement.’ I asked what show and they said ‘Coach.’ I said I’d never heard of it. They said, ‘You and the rest of the country.’”
When the show she read for fell through, Stone was asked six months later to read for a part in “Coach,” which had just been picked up for another 13 episodes. She earned the part of Coach Judy Watkins.
“It was only supposed to be a one-time deal. It turned into seven years of work,” she said.
Her other credits include “The Drew Carey Show,” “Fifty Years of Funny Females,” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Her time in Hollywood was limited with the goal of getting out early.
“I thought I didn’t want to turn 40 in Hollywood because I knew I wouldn’t work a lot,” said Stone.
Back to the stables
Stone left Hollywood in 1999 and began looking for the perfect place to live out her life dream of riding horses and teaching dressage, a highly skilled form of horse riding, considered to be something of an art.
She settled in Campobello, South Carolina, and started Stone’s Throw Farm Dressage in 2000, where she currently teaches.
“When it’s working there’s a physical harmony and a physical balance manifested with the horse and rider. I don’t want to sound kitschy, by dancing with your horse, but it’s riding together as one,” she said.
Being a dressage rider, Stone notes, is one of her proudest accomplishments, along with her first novel being nominated for The Southern Book Prize.
Stone has earned both bronze and silver medals through the United States Dressage Federation.
In the early 2000s, Stone got a call from her manager with a strange proposal: Charlotte-based radio station 107.9 The Link wanted Stone to host a talk show.
The deal was she had complete creative freedom, was asked to do a two-hour show from 10 a.m. to noon weekdays, and the station would put in a line at her farm so she wouldn’t have to drive to Charlotte.
Radio, she’d soon learn, was completely different from anything she had done up to that point. And of course, horses factored into her decision.
“I took it because it’s good money and I could buy another horse. It was probably the most grueling thing I’ve ever done. With the radio, you can’t ever turn off. When you’re off radio, everything you read and watch you’re sitting there with a pad and paper thinking I’ll talk about this on the show,” she said.
She hosted the weekday show for close to five years, earning two Gracie Awards for Best Comedy Entertainment Program. She went on to co-host “The Satisfied Life” with Romona Holloway on Sundays until around 2012.
Hosting the shows for so many years meant she built up a repertoire with the callers.
“When people ask who the funniest people out there are they expect comedians and I say no, it’s the people who called in. It’s naturally funny people who worked at the mill, at the local drug store, the garage,” said Stone.
Put it in writing
Gazette and Star readers, if nothing else, will recognize Stone from her longtime “Life Happens” column and her new “Aunty Pam” column.
She originally started writing columns for The Tryon Daily Bulletin about going from Hollywood to a small rural town. Now, she’s in at least nine publications.
Her newest column, Aunty Pam, also appears in The Gazette and The Star, and is an advice column of sorts where readers can expect potentially prosecco-filled responses.
She’s also the author of two books, “I Love Me A Turkey Butt Samwich,” a compilation of her columns, and the novel “Girls Like Her.”
Stone had the idea of writing a novel in her head for about 10 years before she sat down to write it. A frustration with a lack of diversity in age in contemporary women’s fiction helped her with sitting down to write.
“There seemed to be so little if you’re not 25 and raven haired and buxom chested, there’s no book for you,” she said.
In “Girls Like Her” Stone writes about Lissie Merriman, a mother and grandmother who has put everyone else’s needs ahead of hers. Ahead of her 70th birthday, she decides it’s time for her to live her dream of going to England, not without plenty of pushback from her children.
International travel and classical music are two of Stone’s other passions, outside of animal advocacy, of course.
“If I couldn’t ride and I hadn’t spent my life savings in horses, I’d probably be traveling the world going to music festivals,” she said.
But until then, you can find her in on the farm in a small town in South Carolina.
Pam Stone will be the featured speaker at The Gazette’s Women’s Expo on Oct. 6. To stay up-to-date on her latest projects, visit comedianpamstone.com.
Reach reporter Brandy Beard, who reads Pam Stone’s columns as often as she can, at email@example.com.
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