Our guest blogger this week is Steve Hensley! Steve is a talented Comedian who was the former House Manager at Laugh Out Loud Theater in Schaumburg, just outside of the Chicago area. Steve is incredible at finding ways to make life become humorous. His impressions of George W. Bush, Denzel Washington, and Matthew McConaughey are amazing and can be found on his Youtube channel. Steve also hosts BedroomNews which is a political satire show exposing the humor in today's political arena. You can find his video posts on facebook or on Youtube. A big thanks for Steve sharing his thoughts with us this week.
I am a Christian Comedian?
“Are there any other catholic survivors here tonight?” This is an opening line I’ve heard on several occasions. Often times I feel like the earth is splitting under me and I have to choose to jump to the comedy side or the Christian side. This post is about finding similarities between the two.
All Are Welcomed on Stage and in the Church
“You’re welcome to join us on stage tonight as long as you don’t do something sexist, racist, or homophobic.” This is something you’ll hear at almost any performance opportunity in Chicago. In the Community of Christ I’ve heard on several occasions, “Come as you are.” We’re all a bunch of freaks. Yeah, especially you! Freaks are welcomed to both the stage and to the chapel. All are welcomed.
Allowing Ourselves to be Vulnerable
Comedy allows us to be vulnerable, which makes us relatable. We try so hard to be normal, so when we hear a comic say something off the wall that’s relatable, it’s a relief. “Yes, I’m not the only one!” You just can’t help but laugh, because you can relate. In the Community of Christ Mission Prayer it says, “Grant me courage to risk something new”. The best preachers and performers I’ve met are vulnerable, which makes them relatable. This is how we become more comfortable with ourselves and other people. This allows for us to build a closer more accepting community.
Justice is Served!
When thinking of justice, I like to think of the time when Jesus comes in to the temple and starts flipping tables and calling out a bunch of thieves. “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers.”
I’m currently working with a group of comics on a show I host called Bedroom News. We are a political satire group that often times like to poke fun at things that are unjust. Like most sketch groups, our general rule is to punch up and not down. For example, we won’t make fun of someone with a disability, but we will make fun of someone in office doing something unjust. It’s our attempt to say, “Hey, that’s really messed up, and people need to understand that.”
We are a Joyous People!
I feel like Kevin Bacon over here trying to relate art to religion. God, wants us to feel full of joy. As the Community of Christ has said for years, “We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace.” The comedy community is a safe place for a lot of us. It’s our time to escape, play, and laugh with each other. I like to think back to teaching improv at some Community of Christ camps. It was a recipe for happiness. The kids were loved, physically active, and spiritually focused. Then they came to my class and we got to play and laugh. I’ve never been happier.
Good comedians want the audience to have a good time, even if they’re poking fun at an audience member. When people don’t like our set, we say we bombed. We feel awful, because you (the audience) didn’t enjoy yourself. However, when we “kill it” we feel full of joy because we made you laugh. Just like a minister, we want to help people.
Bringing the Two Communities Together
I think a lot of comics feel judged in some church settings. A high number of comics drink, swear, write edgy material, and etc. Many Christians may not agree with these actions, but it’s not a good enough reason to close the doors on them. Most of the people I’ve met at comedy clubs are kind and loving people. And I believe love is the root of our belief. Comedy community, you’re not off the hook. If we’re sensitive to things that are racist, sexist, and homophobic, then maybe we can work towards being more inviting to religion. Both communities will thrive in common ground. I’m done hiding part of myself, because like many, I belong in both communities. In the words of Kevin Bacon I say, “Let’s Dance!”... And laugh!
A big thank you to Steve for helping us tie comedy to faith! Sometimes laughter is the best way for us to sense and find God in our lives.
This week incorporate humor into your daily life with a joke, smile, or just laughing with someone. Also please follow Bedroom News on Facebook!
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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