Make ‘Em Laugh

I grew up thinking that Christians were not funny people. Many of the Christian people I came in contact with were old, sweet and delightful, but not really all that funny. Some of them tried to be funny, like my Sunday school teacher David Davis (true story) but it was polite laugh funny. Not belly laugh, that’s brilliant and I want to marry someone with your sense of humour so I can laugh like this every day for the rest of my life and I’ll have wicked abs because of it funny. Pastors always throw down the same type of jokes, reinforcing the people who love Jesus are dry stereotype. Think about it. Pastors share a little anecdote about their lives that somehow mirrors a Biblical principle but has a cute and funny punchline that later makes you realize that it wasn’t a personal anecdote at all it was just some story that they just cut and pasted the story from the Book of Pastor (pretty sure that’s real) and inserted their own kids’ names in an attempt to make the Biblical principle stick because of that little dash of humour and personal connection. If that story was an image it would be blurry and have the words “STOCK PHOTO” written across it.

Then there was that lady at our church who had a skin disease and the only way her face skin was still on her face was because it was taped on. I was terrified as a child that her hand would fall off if I shook it. Terrified. Thus making my irrational fear of bandaids not so irrational anymore. That was completely unrelated but I needed to get it out.

My “Christians are not funny” mindset was also reinforced because I grew up reading Focus on the Family magazines that featured “comedy” pieces. I distinctly remember thinking at age twelve that I was way funnier than that guy with the oddly appropriate last name. If Brio and Beyond wanted funny, then they should have hired me instead of that guy with a high voice. Really? You’re writing about how granola makes a good Father’s Day gift in a magazine whose target audience is mostly home schooled preteen girls? If this is how funny Christians are allowed to be then I’m going to get kicked out of a church someday. For laughing too loud. At a lame pastor joke.

Somewhere in the midst of my studies at the University of Procrastination, I found some highly engaging material from The Scholarly Journal of Youtuberie. I think this was the first I came across. I watched some videos. Laughed a whole bunch. And then discovered that the people I was laughing at were Christians.

 

Dramatic pause.

 

My perceptions began shifting. Maybe, just maybe, there were people out there who loved Jesus AND laughter. People who didn’t find granola all that funny. Or make up fake stories about squirrels and the Bible.

 

Cue music montage.

 

Who would have thought that videos made by a tall lanky guy and a short guy with an exceptionally round face would change everything. But they did.

It was around the same time that I began my love affair with Improv and stand up comedy. I discovered the stage and the thrill of making people laugh. I discovered that I could do this without being raunchy. I discovered that being delightfully ridiculous in a church setting puts people at ease. It makes them feel welcome. I discovered that being one of two Jesus lovers on an improv team means you stick out like a sore thumb. I discovered that I’m totally okay with sore thumbs because it’s probably better than sore every other fingers. I discovered that if you plan a comedy fundraiser, you do a stand up routine and make people pay to see you because it’s for orphans in Mexico. I also discovered that stand up is more difficult than it appears. I discovered that it’s still not acceptable to laugh out loud in church, even if the stage hand comes out wearing a balaclava*. During this time I found Jon Acuff’s blog. And Tyler Stanton’s blog. And Tripp Crosby’s blog. And then a whole string of crazy funny writers who also happen to be studying the Word**. I discovered that the lunacy I post on my own blog and Facebook and Twitter is sometimes the only chuckle people get in a day. I discovered that my ability to be ridiculous is God-given and I shouldn’t keep it to myself (hah you poor suckers) and there has to be a reason I am so bizarrely twisted the way I am.

 

Music montage over.

 

If I ever make it to a Catalyst thinger (convention? retreat? CONFERENCE. That’s the word) it won’t be to see Francis Chan or Matt Chandler or some other big time pastor. It will be to see the hosts. And to thank them for being funny idiots. Funny idiots who love Jesus. And who should include me in their next sketch. Ahem.

 

*I’m not making that up. Stage Ninja is real.
**That’s like gangster talk for the Bible. Word.

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11 thoughts on “Make ‘Em Laugh

  1. I’m glad you are a Christian who is trying to get people to lighten up. I know Jesus must have had a sense of humor to put up with his apostles and the crazies that followed him. Keep going with it!

  2. The other day my sister asked me if I would rather marry a guy who was Godly or funny. I was like, “Dude, seriously? Why can’t I have both?” But the sad truth is, I’ve met a lot “Godly” men who are Godly dorks. That was mean. They’re sweet but just a little dull for my liking. And like you, I want a man who will give me good abs.

    When people try to set me up, I ask them if the guy could beat me at basketball (he must be able to) and if he could make me pee my pants. It’s a deal breaker. Oddly enough, I too found hope when I discovered Tripp and Tyler- not for husband candidates- but hope that there actually are funny Christian men out there- like, men who will watch Will Ferrell movies with me but also talk about the sermon on Sunday.

    I wish I could see your stand-up routine. Based on your writing, I am sure you are fabulous. You may need to video it and post it on here sometime…you know- for the orphans.

    • My stand up routine needs to be rewritten, practiced, rewritten and practiced many more times before it ever resurfaces. I wouldn’t count on it. That being said, a week after I performed the first time, I went to an audition and used part of my routine as my “monologue” hoping they couldn’t tell that it was crap I made up and not an actual monologue. They could tell. But they liked it. Maybe someday.

      And Katie, I wish you all the best with your quest. Do you ever feel like because you are nutty and funny, that some guys sit and watch and laugh? This doesn’t even apply to dating. This is any part of life, too. I always feel like a performing monkey and I half expect them to throw popcorn at me. This is why I like hanging out with people who are funnier than me. Takes all the pressure off.

  3. I was surfing the procrastination station recently too, and found a very intriguing summary of using humour and emotion in sermons, by Dr. Fred Craddock. I figured it was apropos, so I include the link below.

  4. I hope that link doesn’t play automatically for people. I’m not sure what wordpress does with links… let’s try HTML:



  5. At the risk of being an online kill-joy, I think I should say something about laughter and church.

    First, and important to remember, is Proverbs 17:22, where we find that a merry heart does good like a medicine.

    But secondly, I think it is interesting to note that nowhere (that I know of) is it recorded that Jesus ever laughed. I can’t even think of one place where it is recorded that He smiled. Please let me know if I’m forgetting something obvious here! But it is recorded that He wept. (John 11:35). I think this is understandable. Jesus, the Life, walking among us dead people in order to give us life, would have little reason to laugh and rejoice when the work was so needed and serious.

    It is good to remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), but laughter in general gets a bad rap in the Bible. It is related to fools (Ecc. 7:6) and mockery (Matthew 9:24). Jesus teaches that those that weep and those that laugh will trade places (Luke 6:21 and Luke 6:25). And when God laughs, it usually means bad news (Psalm 2:4, 34:13, and 59:8).

    Paul warns us against jesting (Ephesians 5:4). James tells us to humble ourselves and change our laughter to mourning (James 4:8-10). The implication is that our lives are short and our destination serious.

    Of course, joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and I don’t want to make people feel guilty for laughing. Far from it! A merry heart does good, after all! And there is a time to laugh (Ecc. 3:4; Psalm 126:2). But if we have a choice between making people laugh, telling a joke, or exhorting each other toward holiness, I think we should choose the higher priority.

    Finally, I don’t think we usually need to try that hard to be funny. If we are open and honest with each other, and full of love no matter the mistakes of others or ourselves, then it opens the door for humour. Life is often naturally funny. With honesty and love, we can’t help but laugh at those times, and in those cases, I think it is healing. Just like medicine…

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