Yesterday, Relevant Magazine ran an article I wrote called “Why Christians Aren’t Funny: On Evangelicalism’s Long Struggle with Humor.” Most of the comments were thoughtful, but there were a few that seemed to miss the mark. I also received several emails from comedians, authors, cartoonists, greeting card writers and other humorists who happen to be Christians. Most were civil, a few were civil and agitated, and a few others were simply agitated. So let’s play a quick round of “What I Said and What I Didn’t Say” to clear the air.
What I didn’t say: “Christians Aren’t Funny”
The point of the article wasn’t that all Christians are incapable of being humorous. Although I did have a comedian send me an angry (and, ironically, humorless) email defending his track record as a genuinely funny person. Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m personally surrounded by dozens of Christ-followers who can make me belly laugh. Of course, Christians have the ability to have a sense of humor.
The editor did change the title of the piece from “Why Evangelicals Struggle to Bring the Funny” to “Why Christians aren’t Funny”, so I guess there’s some room for confusion if you stopped reading at the headline. One point for the editor for grabbing your attention though.
What I did say:
The essay was my attempt to find reasons for why the evangelical subculture can produce so much Amish romance, so much devotional readings, so many I-Went-To-Heaven-On-My-Lunch-Break-Came-Back-and-Landed-In-A-Ghost-Writer’s-Lap ”memoirs” and the like, but the subculture isn’t as prolific when it comes to producing comedians. In the article I offered a few reasons as to why the culture doesn’t reward comics. It’s this lack of payoff that keeps us from producing much comedy. So actually my argument is that evangelicalism probably contains a good number of budding comics, satirists, and humorists that it will continue ignoring.
What I didn’t say: “Jonathan Acuff and Jeff Foxworthy aren’t funny.”
Look, I’m not the guy with the master list of who is funny and who isn’t. I didn’t mention every brilliant comic and humorist who also happens to be a Christ follower.
Acuff’s writing, on occasion, has had me laughing so hard that I’ve blown snot-bubbles through my nose.
Who doesn’t like Jeff Foxworthy?
I am personally unqualified to be judge and juror as to who is funny and who is not. It requires a certain type of arrogance to pretend to be that guy and my certain kind of arrogance covers other topics.
What I said: “The Blue Like Jazz Movie and Snarky Conversations About God were both funny.”
It’s a subjective call and not an exhaustive list. Those were the first two titles that came to mind. Shoot me. It’s called “word count” and the editor cares about that.
What I didn’t Say: “There should be something called Christian Comedy.”
I’m a pastor. I’ve got the subculture coming out of my pores alright. I’ll pass. If it works for you, I promise not to judge.
What I did Say: “There don’t seem to be many Evangelicals contributing to the comedy genre.”
That seems fair, right?
Let’s do this with the comments. If you want to discuss the actual content of the Relevant article, bop on over and do that in the actual column. However, if you want to share your list of Evangelicals that you think happen to be genuinely funny artists, share their names in the comments section. If you are a comic, author, or cartoonist, etc. (please, no mimes), share links to your websites or videos in the comments section here. Perhaps you’ll connect with other humorists or even new fans.
And to those who were kind enough to send me their comedy e-books and video links. I’m sorry, but my reading list is full. I do admire your ability to sell your work with confidence though. Seriously, that takes courage.