Christians Can’t Be Funny? Just Watch Me

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I don’t really know where to begin.  All that I know is how I got here up to this point.  

We all need to evolve, and not in the physical sense, because that’s a given.  I’m talking about evolving as a person, having your ideas, attitudes and beliefs reflect who you are.  If you don’t change, you don’t grow.  Growing requires change, it takes hard work.

In stand-up comedy this is no different.  With some local comics you can’t tell what their point of view is.  Do they have a consistent message or theme to their material?  Some comics will do material that’s random without tying it together.  If you can’t figure out a comedian’s point of view or follow the progression of their set that has some flow, it’s hard to root for that comic to succeed, in part because you don’t know what you are rooting for. 

With me, I’ve always been the type of person that can’t stay stagnant.  I have to be growing, learning and evolving because my family doesn’t do any of this.  I don’t want to grow old without having new relationships with friends and experiencing new opportunities and moments.  Sure, I don’t have a career at the moment, and I have gone through seven jobs in the last two years, but for all that I don’t have, I still know in my heart that I live a far richer life than most people I know.  It’s rich because of the friendships and connections I have forged, the opportunities to learn and grow.

Not only that, but my family is pretty judgemental and rigid.  That’s not how I want to be.  I don’t want to ever think I know it all and continue to learn, grow, and admit to when mistakes have been made.

I’d say in the last few years I’ve had this internal dialogue that’s growing louder with each passing day.  It’s letting me know there is a sense of urgency to get it right.  What is the “it”?  Just knowing there is something bigger, more rewarding and greater for me than the present.  I have lived all of my adult life getting tossed around like a ship in the middle of a storm.  I have been battered and bruised far more than most, and I have the battle scars to prove it.  I once heard a pastor say that he wants to be around people with a faith that’s been tested, with people who have been battered and bruised by the storms of life, yet they come out better than they were before.  Based upon that description, I’d say that I have more faith, an unshakeable faith, than most of the Christians who are way further ahead in their walk at my church.  Telling people you’re a Christian, yet brag that life is good and you have no problems, how does that demonstrate faith?  It’s easy to have faith when nothing goes wrong.  The battles in life are when our true character comes out, when others around us see what we are made of.

I also find it difficult to attend a church where God moves, to want to experience that movement for myself, without really putting forth the effort required.  This is why I am getting water baptized.  Yes, you read that correctly.   It’s the next step in my development in my faith walk.

With this decision, obviously I am declaring that the old way of life is no longer acceptable and will be thrown away like the trash.  It also means that my church family will help hold me accountable and to be more responsible as a believer who is growing up.  This is why I’ve decided that I’m going to be the closest thing to a Christian comedian this province has.

That means a couple of changes.  The material will be clean and not offensive.  I will also be combing through the Bible to find stories to create material from.  A couple of comics in the city do a couple of Christian jokes that are actually quite good.  But nobody has taken the challenge to create the basis of their material from the scriptures, until now.

I don’t think most people see the potential in material here.  The Bible has 66 books in total (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament), with 929 OT chapters and 260 NT chapters.  That makes for 1,189 chapters in the Bible.  Reading the Bible is much like an action movie.  It has plots and subplots, with a cast of characters that face triumph, betrayal, hurt, pain, sickness, death, healing, resurrection and forgiveness, to name a few!

My comedy coach had mentioned that if I am going to do material from the church and Bible, that it should follow the narrative of the central characters (God & Jesus) being taken down a peg, to challenge authority.  I don’t think that’s necessarily true.  I plan to go through the scriptures and find the stories and characters that aren’t talked about much in sermons, and unpack their stories, to shine a light on the scriptures while making it funny and relatable to the audience.

That’s the key.  In such a polarized world that we live in today, some people get pretty defiant and defensive about church.  Some of these opinions are based on experiences they have heard or read about from other people.  Their opinions are usually misconceptions that are based around ignorance and fear.  As I mentioned before, people are too quick to bash the church, but you almost never hear these same people tell you how their lives would be different if church actually did them some good. 

If writing clean material that’s funny takes work, then writing material that works from the Bible is a daunting task, but one I am unafraid of.  I’m breaking new ground and am aware of the responsibility that comes with it.  In a sense it’s like starting comedy all over again, because this really hasn’t been done before.  I have to figure out a way to structure the material to make it funny to non believers while staying true to the facts of the scriptures.  I want to use the truth and stories from the Bible to build my comedy around.  

I know there will be some people out there who are laughing as they read this, especially because this declaration is coming from me.  They may say something like “you?  A Christian comic?  Yeah, that will work.  I know who you are, the you that nobody really knows, the stories about you that aren’t well known.  You’re a fake who has made too many mistakes.  You deserve the bad hand you’ve been dealt in life because you are nothing but a screw up.”

However, if you study the Bible, you will see that there are countless examples within its pages of characters who were flawed and imperfect, yet God took them and made them important people of their times.  They had moments of unbelief, were womanizers, drunkards, murderers and liars, yet God propelled them into positions of authority and prominence.  I once heard a pastor say “God doesn’t call the equipped.  He equips the called.”

The Christian rebranded version of Trevor Dean takes its maiden voyage on Friday night at a corporate Christmas party I’ve been asked to perform at.  I have no idea how the Christian material will be received, let alone from an audience at a corporate function.  There is a bit of fear involved venturing into the unknown like this, but it has to be done.  I need to set the example and stick to it, regardless of whether any comics choose to follow this path or not.  Although, my comedy coach said that it’s impossible to dislike somebody that makes you laugh.  So yeah, there may be some comics that laugh and snicker about what I’m setting out to accomplish, but watch how quickly their attitudes towards me will change when they see this material getting laughs.

When my website was rebranded a few years ago, I looked up many different logos and pictures that I wanted to use for my backdrop.  I ultimately chose the picture of a large theatre that’s empty, with a stool and mic stand, with the microphone being the only things that occupy that stage.

It has a dual meaning.  When you are at a stand-up comedy show, there is the stool and mic that symbolizes the excitement you feel in the moments before the show, as an audience member.  For myself as a comedian, that picture symbolizes what it shows in the moment.  The stage is empty, as are the seats.  Comedy can be a grind and feel lonely at times when you feel there isn’t any interest or support in what you are doing.  Or, if you do a show and are starting to eat it on stage (I hate the word bomb….I prefer eating it or having the show go sideways instead), the stage can be the loneliest place in the world for a comedian.  There are no safety nets, and you have to figure your way out of whatever caused your set to go off track.

Being baptized as an adult is kind of like doing comedy.  If you wait around for the perfect moment, or for when you feel just right to do it, you’ll be waiting around for a long time.  Sometimes you just need to do it, to jump in with both feet and work it out.  I can’t expect my life to change and get better if I am unwilling to take the necessary steps to grow in my Christian walk when my reason for inactivity are excuses that are based out of fear. 

The bank recently gave me a refund cheque for an error that they made.  My pastor announced to the congregation that he believed it was a blessing, from God, in response to my growth in my faith walk and for being a part of the church for almost two years.  In that moment, I felt a sense of accomplishment and gratitude that no comedy stage can ever come close to replicating.

Having said that, I’m not sure how I will come out of baptism on the other side.  Will I want to do comedy still, or give it up?  Maybe I’ll be called to do something in comedy other than perform.  Maybe I will apply to Canada’s Next Top Comic competition with my Christian material, get voted to head to the Just For Laughs festival and win it?  What if I start going around to churches in the city and performing?  What if I sell out a church for a fundraiser when they realize instead of hiring a Christian comedian from outside of Saskatchewan, they could hire me instead?

Who are you to say it can’t happen?  Who are you to tell me I don’t deserve good breaks like that?  Sometimes God uses people that the world thinks are too flawed, hypocritical, too messed up and too far gone to be of any significance in this life.  I am living proof of His mercy and grace.  If, by going in this new comedy direction and baptism, I receive unbelievable favour and opportunity then it would appear I made the right move.  Maybe that never happens, or maybe it does.  Either way, I still have to take this next step, a leap of faith.  (sniff….sniff) uh, it smells like I could also use a shower.  Or deodorant.  Holy crap that’s rank.  Goodnight one and all.

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