Sep 21 2011
I pride myself on being the ultimate professional. Companies love having me and I enjoy them. I perform a family-friendly show. I don’t break into any crazy rants. All that said, I am human, and mistakes do happen. Let me share one – I think it’s pretty funny. After reading this, I’d love to know your comments here or your own tales of woe.
I was doing a corporate gig in Seattle. Now, let me first explain something. While I’m known as a “Christian Comedian,” the truth is that there’s nothing that would offend a non-Christian in my comedy act. My topics are purely family-oriented.
Now, if I’m performing in a religious venue, like a church, and they request it, I will passionately talk about my faith. But when you’re in Vegas, or at the Merchants of Business Commerce Industry Conference, nobody really wants to hear about that. They just want to be entertained.
I’ve worked for everyone from Sam’s Club to the Hamilton Farm Bureau, from Chick-fil-A to Blue Creek Investment Partners, from Amway to General Mills.
But, there I was in Seattle. I was killing (which, in Comedy terms, is a good thing). Then I set up a joke by saying, “We’re a praying family, my wife and I. When we were going to have children, we prayed for patience, tolerance, love and understanding… but God has his own way of answering prayers….”
Now, trust me, because I’ve done this literally 1000’s of times. Something funny really is coming that has nothing to do with God per se.
For the joke to work, we could have been anything that prayed. We could have been atheists that prayed to telephone poles. But, these are the words that have been working for me for 20 years.
Before I could get another word out, a woman appeared at the foot of the stage and said, “You’re done.” I walked over to her. “But I still have 10 minutes left….” She said, “No, you’re done now, so get off the stage.” So, like Snagglepus, I exited, stage right.
I was flabbergasted (and I don’t flabber easily). I wasn’t the only one. Standing in the back of the room, people kept telling me I was great and asking me what happened. “A woman told me to stop.” They couldn’t believe it any more than I could. Who?! What woman? Her? Really?!
Later on, I came to learn that she was afraid I was about to launch into some right wing, Christian evangelical, righteous, alienating, politically incorrect sermon. (It was a joke about while we’d prayed for patience, etc., we were “blessed” with two ADHD children. OK, maybe this doesn’t sound funny NOW, but she messed up my timing! If you like, you can watch it here.
A week later I received a letter from the woman apologizing for what she did and telling me I was “welcome to work for the company in the future.” I was 99% sure she was “asked” to write the letter, but there wasn’t any sincerity in it. I wanted to lash out (ever write a dozen angry drafts and wisely rip them all up?) but I wrote back simply that I am always extremely careful not to offend. Preaching to folks has its place, I wrote, and I know that the stage isn’t it and would never do that. I also mentioned the kinds of things I was up to, including adopting children for World Vision. Turns out she also adopts for World Vision. Long story short, after a bunch of exchanged missives, we are now mutually respectful email pals!
My comedy makes fun of myself and my family. Mostly me. Really, if anyone should be offended after one of my shows it should be me. I can think only of one other corporate SNAFU in my 32 years of doing comedy, and it’s truly hilarious. I’ll tell you about it next time.