By: Dan Rupple
1) What is Christian Comedy?
This is a question that, no matter how many times you define it, it continually comes up. Personally, my definition is always changing, so it might be a good thing that it remains fluid.
So often we get stuck when we try to define Christian comedy in terms of how many times we say “Jesus”? How clean we work? Where we perform?
Or how explicitly we present Christian Content?
From my perspective:
A Christian Comedian is someone who works in the craft of comedy
and is walking in relationship with God.
Why do I say that?
Great comedy is always based in the truth of human experience,
if not, it won’t connect with the audience.
And that truth usually struggles with what it means to be human.
As a Christian we have a unique perspective on that truth.
God’s presence is in our lives, shapes our values, our behavior, our character, our worldview, our purpose and our motivation of why we do what we do.
And the closer we walk with Christ, Christian truth, either explicitly or implicitly, permeates all we say or do, and that’s what marks us as a Christian Comedian.
2) Comedy Matters
In the book of Exodus, God is calling the Children of Israel to build the tabernacle. And He tells Moses to gather the carpenters, the stoneworkers/masonry and the skilled craftsmen… the artists.
Because if something is going to represent the presence of God,
it needs to be a great work of art.
God places a high call on the Artist. And comedy is amongst the most important callings. Drama will oftentimes look at man’s strengths and helps us dream about what we can be. But comedy operates secure in the knowledge of man’s imperfections: our insecurity, awkwardness, cowardness, uncertainty, pride, jealousy, fear – all the core attributes of comedy.
Comedy helps us live with who we are.
Jesus said, “We will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Comedy is the art of telling the truth about what it’s like to be human.
And we get to do it from a perspective of the Creator Himself.
3) Put in the Work
Great sports legends: Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretsky, Peyton Manning, Greg Maddox, Tony Gwynn… there is a reason they are iconic legends. It’s not ONLY because of exceptional skills. But they practice the most, work the hardest.
They are the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave.
To excel in comedy, we must have the same dedication to our craft.
A comedian must have an audience. It’s probably the only art form that can’t be done alone. Perform wherever they will give you a stage.
Write as often as you can.
Study the greats.
Attend conferences or seminars.
Remain a student. Don’t just think you can rely on talent alone,
There is always someone who is just as talented; who works harder that will pass you by.
4) Build a Life Beyond Comedy
Living in So Cal, I’ve seen so many actors, musicians, comedian who put their whole life and their whole identity into their careers.
Sadly, they are devastated by their first rejection.
In this business you’ll receive a NO, infinitely more times than a YES.
If your life is broader than the narrow label of comedian…
if you’ve built a rich family life, social life, church life, recreational life…
it is easier to weather the inevitable rejection or a bad night.
And, the richer you are as a person, the richer your comedy is.
5) Understand And Accept The Scope Of God’s Call On Your Life As A Comedian.
God had set Moses apart as the leader of the Children of Israel.
The people challenged Moses – “Who do you think you are?
Who put you in charge? I didn’t vote for you.”
“It is God who places people in the Body of Christ according to His will.”
Only Moses could be Moses.
Only Tim Hawkins is called to be Tim Hawkins.
Only Chonda is called to be Chonda.
Only Anita Renfroe is called to be Anita Renfroe.
But only YOU are called to be YOU.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
6) Recognize The Difference Between Striving And Persistence
We live in a constant tension between:
Being diligent, working hard to build the career God has called you to,
raising awareness that we’re out there.
We didn’t get into this business nor will we survive if we’re the unknown,
anonymous comedian (unless you put a bag over your head).
But the other side of the coin is spending every last drop of energy on self-serving, self- seeking, self promotion.
Striving relentlessly to obtain the career you want for yourself.
Endlessly trying to kick down a door that you’ve knocked on 500 times before
that God never intended to open for you anyway.
I don’t know exactly where this very grey line is,
but I do know when I’m striving for something God doesn’t have for me.
And when I’m walking in God’s favor
and I just need to persevere through obstacles that are in my way.
Now, living in the INFORMATION AGE of Social Media, it’s further complicated,
because you can build, shape and market a career, than has no basis in reality.
But a warning: If we are all about marketing and there is no substance there,
eventually people will find there’s no there there.
You’ll get a reputation real quick as a hack or phony.
Let the excellence of your craft and the heart of a servant build your reputation.
7) What Makes A Great Comedian?
Jesus continually said, “You have heard it said, but I said….”
And the crowds said, “Never has a man spoken like this.”
They marveled at his words and deeds.
A BAD or hack comic is somebody whose tired, obvious material is aimed at totally exhausted targets without any kind of tweak or fresh angle on it.
A great comedian offers a totally relatable, but never thought of from that inventive, creative, funny, unique view of the world.
And because we know the God who sees things in a completely different and compelling way than mankind does, the Christian comedian should be amongst the best of the comedians.
We have been given a gift: A Comedy Mind.
You are wired by God to see life through a comedic lens.
And it’s our job and calling to use comedy to testify to God’s truth.