Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What is Christian Humor?

More on Borat. I was telling my supervisor about the movie, and about my conclusion (November 17) that Sacha Baron Cohen was
  1. A brilliant comic and
  2. A cruel comic.


What ensued was a very interesting conversation that left me confused and curious. I’d love to hear folks’ opinions on this one: What is/would be the foundation for Christian humor?

We both agreed, probably unjustly, that we’d have very low expectations for Christian comedy. It’d either be cheap slapstick, inoffensive word jokes, or saccharine inspirational stories.

But we also agreed that blandness would be a function of the greater blandness in much of North American Christian subculture.

What do y’all think? I mean this in the deepest sense possible. Because God both promises us, and demands of us, joy. The Bible features a man named Laughter, a laughter that comes out of a surreal inversion of bitterness (his Hebrew name was Isaac).

Frankly, if laughter has no place in the Christian life, there very little that would be compelling about this life. But I know there is laughter here, and I know deep down that it doesn’t have to be as cruel as Borat’s humor.

But what is it?

4 Comments:

At 11:53 AM, November 27, 2006, Blogger Pete Juvinall said...

I think if you're sued by pretty much everyone that you 'joke' about, it says something about your humor.

This sounds really weird, but I think Stephen Colbert does Christian humor relatively well. I don't know where his heart is, but the times when Christians/Christianity come into his radar it never really appeares to be mean spirited and often, to me at least, is quite funny.

 
At 3:45 PM, November 27, 2006, Blogger Craver VII said...

Well, (Peering over pretend bifocals) I would probably begin by saying that Christian humor must first and foremost be inoffensive to Christ. After that there is a wide, wide range of opportunity to produce something subjectively humorous. Then of course, there’s even a wide dynamic range in humor. We can’t do milk-thru-the-nose funny all the time. Sometimes you just make their heart smile, and no one sees or hears it. And that’s okay.

I like that you used the provocative term “cruel comic.” To my way of thinking, that’s an oxymoron. And it’s a perfect complement to add the picture of they hyena… I hate hyenas. They cackle, yes, but they remind me of the bad boys in The Karate Kid. Sure they laughed, but it wasn’t funny. I have heard that laughter before, and I didn’t like it.

When you take an awkward or even painful event, (real or imagined) and communicate a redemptive perspective that lightens the load… that’s funny. Unless Dad furls his eyebrows and give you that sideways look that says you are going to have a meeting later, then it’s not funny.

 
At 12:28 AM, November 28, 2006, Blogger Chris&Tricia said...

Humor is found in honest vulnerability, or in simple-everyday comedy of errors. In fact, I think authentic humor can only arise from a sense of humility rather than "coolness." Humor is the other day when I was listening to my wife and I leaned my forehead into our indoor cactus. Humor is personified in a friend of mine who has few inhibitions and knows that they make a fool of themselves all the time, but they don't have any pretensions of grandeur. Humor was when I rode up the T-bar on the ski lift, and I accidentally got dragged up the ramp at the top of the lift, and I kept getting clobbered by the T-bars that riders behind me were releasing when they got to the top. Humor is when a 2-3 pound ferret chases a 70 pound labrador retriever around the coffee table again and again, or when the dog finally figures out how to use his weight against the ferret's quickness and bite by smashing the ferret into the carpet with the side of his head.

 
At 6:23 AM, March 11, 2007, Blogger davenhil said...

My Mother-in-law who is 80, loves life and laughs a lot says that two itinerent preachers have been to their church recently and have told the people they need to laugh more. They are a light hearted crowd so are a little mystified as to what this means. Could it be that the two guys think they should be stand up comics and weren't appreciated or could there be something deeper? I hope Christian humour isn't all about slap stick (not my choice of humour at all) Where does joy unspeakable fit into the picture. Surely humour is about spacious places and unity in brotherhood, feeling loved even when we make mistakes and having the courage to laugh at ourselves.

 

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