CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – At any given coffee shop, you never know who might be on the clock, working remotely. 

Jordan Centry is a claims specialist for an insurance company because he enjoys a paycheck like most of us.

“Listen, I’m just in it for the money, ha-ha! I went to get my MBA because I wanted a high-paying job,” he said.

When he’s not investigating property damage claims, he hopes something funny happens. Centry’s real passion is stand-up comedy.

In 2022, readers of Q.C. Nerve magazine voted him “Charlotte’s Best Comedian.” On Thursday, September 7th, he’ll host the All-Star Open Mic night featuring the publication’s past Charlotte Comedian of the Year winners, including Tara Brown (2019), Shaine Laine (2019), Don Garrett (2020), and Jason Allen King (2021).

Centry’s routine free-writing exercise gets ideas for jokes flowing randomly.

“A lot of this will be pointless, to be honest with you,” he told Queen City News, setting his timer for ten minutes that must have felt like Final Jeopardy.

“I’m pretty much just writing everything that’s coming to my mind,” said Centry.

His rapid-fire thoughts included, “I wonder if anyone in my hometown will see this. They may think I’ve made it after this.”

“I might buy tickets to the Beyonce concert,” he scribbled later.

From there, he takes some of the ideas on a tightrope at a local stage.

“Jordan Centry!” an announcer belted out. 

“Alright, alright!“ the confident comic said, hosting Comedy Night at Starlight on 22nd in NoDa.

Especially on Tuesday nights, his life’s a joke.,

“[Stand-up comedy is] something I did originally did just to get out of my comfort zone and just, you know, prove that I could do it,” Centry explained.

“But see, I’m from a small town,” the comic said on stage. “Like my Pizza Hut had speed bumps. People were so excited about Pizza Hut that they were doing 40 in the parking lot.”

He could have easily dropped the mic after graduating from Carolina with an MBA.

“Comedy is my dream job, so to speak, so it didn’t really matter what I was doing within corporate America,” he said.

Money can’t buy you laughs, it turns out. He watches his performances on his laptop like an athlete studying game film.

“And growing up, I would usually be the only black kid in class,” he told fans at a recent show.

“And if you ever wondered what that looked like,” he said to big laughs as he looked around the room.

“I remember one time my mom called me a house negro… Which is bad because my mom is white,” he said at the same show.

That jolting joke is how he reveals in his act that his family is biracial.

“This might be a controversial take, but am I the only one that’s tired of seeing an interracial couple in every commercial… don’t clap too loud,” Centry said as laughter ensued.

He tells us as a child, he was “chubby” and loved pizza and pro wrestling. He grew up in the small town of Stoneville, North Carolina.

“A lot of comedy is self-deprecating,” Centry explained. “It would have been hard to have been the ‘cool kid’ in high school and then become a comedian.”

After the rush of performing the comedy tightrope, he goes right back to handling insurance claims. But don’t ask him to put all kidding aside.

“So I guess if you could learn anything from my story, it’s just to keep going. Whatever your pursuit is,” said Centry, who’s clearly happiest when he pulls no punchlines.

“We got the news here!” he said, jokingly reprimanding the crowd at Starlight on 22nd. “Y’all ain’t about to embarrass me tonight. Are y’all ready to keep the show rolling, everybody?”