Ramblings about faith and comedy and crap
I freely admit I like me some schlock. I am a full-on fan of cheesy stuff. Over the years we have had quite a kitsch souvenir collection, which includes a huge ceramic Las Vegas die, a plaster “Welcome to Florida” alligator with his throat open to joyfully hold toothpicks, and a jewel-encrusted Statue of Liberty. My favorite is in my hubby’s floaty-pen collection. It’s the Last Supper, and when you angle the pen, the loaf of bread slides back-and-forth on the table, from disciple to disciple. Jesus sits in the middle, patiently like he does, waiting for those wacky disciples to simmer down with the bread, already. Low art is very high art, in my opinion.
I love those Sy-Fy (gaaaah, I HATE spelling it like that!) Channel movies like Slither, and Anacondas: Curse of the Blood Orchid, and, yes, one of my favorites is Mansquito!
There is nothing like seeing people morph into giant-sized things we already hate! Except for Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Because I LOVE tomatoes. My point is, these creatures are such that even the best HR department could not deal with them.
“Mansquito, please stop feeding on the guys in the mail room. We need them. Maybe you could try sucking the blood of someone from middle management.”
“Swamp Thing, can you please wear Crocs or something? You are schmutzing up the carpet by the water cooler.”
“Blob, can you be a little more of a team player? There is no “I” in the word ‘team!”.
Saving Sharknado for a special weekend.
You know what? I even sorta liked those hell movies they showed us at youth retreats to scare us into accepting Jesus. They were über-schlock! To be clear, these are extreme tactics, but hey, I DID get baptized again!! And I mean, dunked, baby, none of that sprinkling stuff. We Baptists-at-heart like to see people just go for it, full-on humiliation, in a clingy, wet, white robey-thingie. Yes, mis amigos, choose your underwear carefully for your rendezvous with the Baptismal pool.
Yep, I got Baptized twice. Maybe I just had better underwear to show off the second time around, you say. Nope. I just wanted to make sure it “took.”
Long story short (too late, you whine), I’m a follower of Jesus. I lurv me some Jesus. But, the last few years, I’ve wanted very little to do with American Christian Culture.
Or, I should say, I would rather have a LOT to do with the less-publicized believers, the ones who aren’t sure about everything, and who don’t think to follow Jesus is to be equated with following Republicans. Seriously, it’s not the same thing. Wish I could Mail-Chimp that to all the right people. I don’t think Jesus is concerned with our stupid politics here. But maybe that’s because I have a dear friend from Syria, and a student from Nigeria, and I listen to BBC news . . . so I think Jesus is thinking about more important stuff than the Sunday morning talk shows, and who brought who to the White House Correspondents Club Conference Prom Thingy. We don't care, really, we just like the comedians. But maybe I'm biased.
I don’t actually usually talk politics or religion much (if ever) in my standup comedy act. So far. I guess so far I’ve saved that for print and the interwebs.
Onstage, I just talk about IMPORTANT stuff like my uterine bulge, and the size of fast-food drinks! I mean, genius, original stuff like, “Whoaaa, have y’all noticed how big a Big Gulp can get?? Whoaaaaaa. Really big.” The comedy of legends.
And I don’t equate talking about Jesus with talking about religion. I think we need to be able to laugh about our questions, so I just wonder out loud about stuff, like I did when I worked in comedy clubs (and hell-holes, too!), putting 1,000 miles a week on my Dodge Raider. I like doing church events though, because they almost always involve very good food. And very nice people, who rarely throw things.
In the last few years I realized, hey, there are churches that will pay a funny Christian to do comedy for their events. What a great fit! I’m funny AND I lurv me some Jesus!! Woooot. I remember the first Christian comedians gathering (yes, we gather, does that frighten you?) I ever attended, and the people at my dinner table thought I was such a hero for working out in the “highways and the hedges,” in the clubs. It puzzled me, because I’ve always thought it was awesome to get to go work in comedy clubs, and loved the green room, and the people you meet and work with. It didn’t seem like a “Livingston, I presume?” sitch to me at all. But I’m weird, so that works for me.
There was a rumor going around in the Christian Comedy Community (I dunno, it felt like it should be capitalized) for a while that some people were pretending to be Christians so that they could get work in churches. All I could say was, “Who the hell would do THAT?” Nobody does that. Really? That’s kinda hilarious. I mean, who would do that?!
But more and more, as the years have gone by, as I’ve become more liberal, less sure of everything, and more clingy to actual Jesus than to church tradition, I've learned some things.
I know it takes bravery to speak up for your beliefs, no matter what side you are on. But your bravery depends on where you are. Like, if you are playing big Christian arenas and concerts and events all the time, and you think you are in the fray, you are just being silly. If you are only hanging around “your” people, you are taking the safe route. Same with liberals. We should all mix it up a little.
I am not dissing these groups, I love working for these groups. It’s comfy! Did I say that? Is it the volunteers who are so caring? The beaming, welcoming, friendly audiences? The gift baskets? The lack of things being thrown at the stage?
It’s all of the above, and it’s like totally awesome.
I’m serious about the humor business. It has made me a living for about 30 years now, from page to stage.
I’m at a point in my life, and in my career, (use air quotes here!), that I do see all that bad-mouthing and back-stabbing and people-dunking (wait, that doesn’t go here) as just speedbumps in life.
Jesus said to expect crap like that.
Well said, Jesus.*
*Before I get a hundred missives dashed off from post-milennialists who think I’m being blasphemous, I do NOT mean to imply Jesus said stuff like “crap,” or “floaty-pen,” but then, I also do not mean to imply that he DIDN’T.
Art Journal (second today) . . . I draw angels A LOT. Here's another. Watercolor pencils (Caran D'Ache) on paper bag (from Chipotle, I think!) and taped into a painted Moleskine Journal page . . . I used Caran D'Ache watersoluble crayons for the scribbly background and pen-and-ink for the lettering, and Faber-Castell (FINE and SUPER-FINE) Artist Pens for the paisley flowers and the angel outlines.
Thought Note: In DC our apartment is in Capitol Hill, and I encounter the homeless every single time I leave the apartment. I keep quarters and Sacagawea dollars handy to give out, and I usually greet them. It's so little to do. My son volunteered at a soup kitchen in DC, and spent the whole day with a homeless man who had a Master's degree. I can never thank God enough for this man, and the impression he made on my son; how he sees a homeless person not as someone who "deserves" what they are getting, but as a human, like any of us, who has, for now anyway, hit on some very hard times. How close we can be to that - and how glad I am that I don't think I'll ever hear my son complain about the poor or their neediness.
This is an Art Journal spread I just finished this morning. The first line of the hymn is "Blessed be the man that provideth for the sick and needy;" and the words "Let Them Eat" speak for themselves . . . but remind us of the "Let Them Eat Cake" attitude that many people have - I've got what I need, so screw the rest of the world. It's a heartbreaking thing to see and hear . . . but, I do believe that most people have bigger hearts than that.
Tech Note: the background was made with watersoluble crayon scribbled, then brushed around with water; the dotted pattern is from dipping small-bubble bubble wrap into acrylic paint and using it as a stamp. I made the envelope from Satin Design 100% rag vellum, and then stamped a design on it with acrylic.
We are all on a journey . . . and we should remember that. People can change. We can grow. And we are all in the middle of silent (or not-so-silent) struggles . . . in which we try to better ourselves, we beg God to make us better and/or we beat ourselves up for not being better. Hang in there. A cliché I love.