I’ve come to the conclusion that Christians don’t believe in comedy. I think I’ve known this for a while, but it jumped out at me this past week.
It all started when the song “Friday”, by Rebecca Black, hit Youtube and stayed as a trending topic on Twitter for weeks. Here’s a taste. You don’t have to watch the whole thing, but look at enough to get the idea:
Good or bad, 92 million+ hits isn’t anything to sneeze at. It’s a fairly well produced independent video of a pretty poor song. For whatever reason this thing went viral, and has staying power, mostly from people making fun of it. It has inspired quite a few parodies.
I steadfastly refused to watch it until I heard about Community Christian Church’s parody. The talented crew created a parody that invites people to Easter services on “Sunday”:
I watched it, and laughed, and then went and watched the original and laughed more. They really nailed the feel of it. For a lot less money I’m sure. I know Eric Bramlett, the Creative Ministry Director there, from his work with the Exponential conference, which we host every year. I saw some of his twitter feed and read his blog, then listened to his Pop Culture Pulpit podcast on the subject.
After that I’m convinced that Christians don’t believe in comedy. If they did, a church having fun, making a funny video that happened to get a bit of circulation, wouldn’t be so odd that it confused people. The fact that so many people responded with viciousness and misunderstood the video shows that we really don’t do comedy. The church (Not Community Christian, Christendom, the organization that’s been built around the Body of Christ. That church.) does stupid things exactly like what these people thought this video was. Even the Christians on Godtube can’t just enjoy it. No, they fight about meaningless topics.
Christians don’t believe in comedy because we don’t do comedy. Oh, we do fund raising events with stand-up comedians. And funny skits in worship a couple times a year. But most churches don’t do comedy. We ignore it.
If anyone can name a live-action Christian movie that was actually intended to be a comedy I’ll send you $5. I’m serious. I cannot think of a single Christian film, aside from some animation, that was actually supposed to be classified as a comedy. I’ve seen some funny ones, but no actual comedies.
God created the sense of humor. Why don’t we embrace it?
Well, for one, laughing doesn’t simulate the kind of emotional response people normally want in church. We want people to be serious, and engage in deep introspection, and be alert for the Spirit of God to move. Never mind that humor is one of the most effective ways to communicate difficult messages without offense. That’s not to say that you cannot offend with humor. It is very easy to mess up comedy.
And that may be the real reason we, the “Church” don’t believe in comedy. It’s hard. You have to know your audience, and be able to communicate something you find funny in a way that everyone else will find it funny too. It’s simpler to make people cry. When comedy goes wrong, it goes way wrong. It’s risky. It’s safer to stick with serious topics. No need in taking a chance on getting a nasty-gram in your email.
So, Christians don’t believe in comedy.
But we should. More churches should take chances and do comedy. You know why? God created it, and people like it. Check out an article on EW.com. It lists the tops shows by age group. Count the number of comedies listed… In the age groups we are losing fastest from the church, there are reality shows and then there are comedies. No dramatic shows in the top 6 for those ages.
Now count the number of comedy TV shows Christian produce…
We need to do comedy. The few drama groups and video crews and stand up comedians who follow Christ and do comedy cannot carry this for us. We should stop ignoring a whole genre of art. Let’s actually believe in comedy.