Biblical Accuracy

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Jim Gaffigan recently said in an interview that a lady came up to him and said the Christian material he does is not biblically accurate.  His response was that it’s stand up comedy.  He’s a comedian.  It’s his job to make it funny.

I received the same concern from a few people that told me to beware that I don’t take something out of context and not to mess with the word of God.  So, before some of you get your shorts in a knot, it’s time for another lesson in Comedy 101 that you probably won’t get anyplace else.

Stand-up comedy is really about two things, storytelling and exaggeration.  That does not mean however, that a comedian has to sacrifice the truth for those two ingredients to be present.

If a comedian is serious about their comedy, they will tell a story that is relatable or compelling enough for the audience to want to follow along.  A comedian can talk about the most obscure subject, as I sometimes do, but you need to tie it all together and make it relatable to the audience, or have the story be compelling enough that you have a point of view that comes through in the end, which the audience can comprehend and hopefully laugh at.  For example, I talk about watching the US Open Tennis Tournament every year.  Is that relatable to everybody?  No, because there may not be tennis fans in the audience.  They know what tennis is, but don’t have an in-depth knowledge of it.  But at the end of the joke, there is a point of view that I get across that is relatable to everyone.  Actually, it’s more like the punchline in the end relates to me, which gets laughs.

Exaggeration can be a tricky part to navigate through when creating material.  Another phrase to use in place of exaggeration would be comedically enhanced.  Basically you want to take facts (whether they are real or perceived from the comic) and enhance or exaggerate them.  If the comic does their job well, the enhancement may be perceived by the audience to be the truth.  It’s all up to the performer on stage and how well they can sell their point of view to the audience.  You don’t want to exaggerate things too much where you lose credibility with the audience.

If the audience believes that what you are saying is true, they will laugh.  If they believe what you are telling to be a tall tale, a bit of a stretch or impossible to conceive, then the audience doesn’t laugh.  Having said that, the comedian is the expert on stage if they are talking about a subject, meaning the comic shouldn’t screw up the facts of the setup to discourage the audience from following them.

All that I’m simply doing is taking the stories, parables and characters from the Bible and hold them up to the world we live in today, and how people in 2019 might perceive those stories that happened a few thousand years ago.  There are some things you read in the Bible that you may not understand, that you might interpret differently from somebody else.  The Bible creates a discussion, if you don’t believe me just take a look at all the different versions of the Bible that are out there.  By versions I simply mean there are different ways the King James Version have been reworded.  NIV, Message version, NKJV, Amplified Bible are just a few examples.  Read the same scripture in a few different versions and you will see what I mean.

There are things the Bible doesn’t talk about in certain stories, and that’s what I want to shed some light on with my Christian material.  Hold those stories up against the world we live in today, and doing it in such a way that produces laughs.  It isn’t about discrediting the scriptures, it’s about seeing the humour in the Bible.

There are no instances of Jesus laughing in the scriptures, not much humour at all.  Like Jim Gaffigan said, he’s a comedian.  It’s our jobs to find the funny in life.  The fact that I have ten pages of material already, and discussing stories that haven’t been covered by comedians (that I’m aware of), I would hope is a testimony to my ability to look past the obvious and ask questions that non-comics don’t ask or are aware of when they read the same scriptures I do.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some appreciation from a Christian audience one day, whether it be doing a show at a church or at a comedy club.  Though I have to admit, making a church audience laugh is very easy.  Making a comedy club audience laugh with some Christian material, that’s the challenge.  Like I have said before, an open mic audience is completely different than paying customers to a comedy club.  Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy different.  The comedy club with paying customers gives me levels of stress, anxiety, fear and doubt that are super ramped up to levels that turn me into somebody else.  Sure, the Christian material has worked in the open mic shows thus far, but the comedy clubs are a whole other level.  Just because something works at an open mic, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work at a comedy club where people pay money and have expectations before you step onto the stage.

Maybe the next time I get a paid spot opening at a comedy club in Saskatoon, some people from church or Christians in general will come to hear Christian material.  Then again, maybe it’s just wishful thinking.  I wish that I could tell you this new path doing Christian material will be successful, but there is uncertainty to it all.

Then again, if everything about stand-up comedy was fun or successful all the time, why would I continue down this path seven years later?  You learn nothing from success, you learn everything from failure.  I have a feeling I will never stop learning.

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