Because I'm a comedy writer...

I realized some time back that the comedians we love and watch are perfectly described in Scripture as "scoffers" and "mockers". I was browsing the internet this evening when the point really hit me in the gut in a passage from the Wikipedia entry on Seth MacFarlane. For those who don't know, Mr. MacFarlane is an "actor, animator, comedian, writer, producer, director, and singer," and he's responsible for shows such as Family Guy and American Dad. Here's what Wikipedia had to say about his September 11, 2001 brush with death:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, MacFarlane was scheduled to return to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston. Suffering from a hangover from the previous night's celebrations, and with an incorrect departure time (8:15 a.m. instead of 7:45 a.m.) from his travel agent, he arrived at Logan International Airport about ten minutes too late to board the flight as the gates had been closed. Fifteen minutes after departure, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked, and at 8:46 a.m. it was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, obliterating the airplane and killing everyone on board.

In an interview with TVShowsOnDVD.com, MacFarlane said the following about his close call:

"The only reason it hasn't really affected me as it maybe could have is I didn't really know that I was in any danger until after it was over, so I never had that panic moment. After the fact, it was sobering, but people have a lot of close calls; you're crossing the street and you almost get hit by a car..... this one just happened to be related to something massive. I really can't let it affect me because I'm a comedy writer. I have to put that in the back of my head." (Emphasis mine.)

Did you catch that? He had a very close brush with death, but he needed to put it "in the back of his head." He couldn't let it affect him because he's "a comedy writer."

Phew. That was close.

Are we amusing ourselves to death, or are we using every opportunity to redeem the time? Do we remember that it is appointed for man once to die and then to face the judgment (Heb. 9:27), and that we are a vapor that will vanish away quickly (James 4:14)? I say this in the throes of watching hours of World Cup soccer, so this is as much a reminder for me as anyone else. Let's not miss this opportunity to remember the end of our days.

As pastor Tim often says, pastors are paid to lie while comedians are paid to tell the truth. How awful, when those who make light of eternal things speak more truth than those who are called to teach us us truth with all soberness! Pray that God will mercifully cause us to love the truth and be sober minded.

Proverbs 1:22 - “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge?"

Proverbs 3:34 - "Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted."

Proverbs 19:29 - "Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And blows for the back of fools."

Lucas Weeks

Lucas serves as an assistant pastor at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana. Although he pines for the warm, tropical weather that was familiar to him growing up in west and central Africa, he has since made peace with the harsher climates of North America.

Want to get in touch? Send Lucas an email!

Comments

That's the thing about comedy and comedians. Scoffers and mockers, yes, but good comedians really will speak the truth. With an eye to Tim's comments once about the place of ridicule, the trick is to ensure that you're mocking the right things.

I agree with Ross. Laughter can be a good and God-given thing, and many people are gifted at pointing out the world's ironies, inconsistencies, and hypocrisies in a way that is righteous. There is a time and a place for such humor, of course, and I certainly wouldn't count Seth MacFarlane's tawdry "humor" as an example. It all depends on what is being mocked. Fools hate knowledge, but true comedy requires perception and intelligence.

And the best part of things? The Reformed tradition is not excluded.

When I was doing my Bible training, it was in a interchurch group for part-timers, with the teaching staff drawn from many of the local churches. Our church history lecturer was the local Reformed Church pastor (not a tradition all that strong on the ground where I come from), and he took us through the Reformation period, including Luther and Calvin. Anyway, one night he remarked to us that Calvin had been known to his students as the Accusative Case. The quip brought the house down - and top marks for the lecturer being able to poke fun at his own tradition - and I've been laughing at it since.

I agree very much with the comparison of many modern comedians to the scoffer in Psalm 1. Much depends on the aim and methods of the comedian. I think Doug Wilson is an excellent comic writer, because he scorns things that are worthy of scorn, and is open to rebuke and reproof, and exhibits an earthy joy and goodness of humor that many a far-too-serious progressive would not be able to handle. Where comedy fails is where it does not honor the image of God in man, and becomes a vehicle for scorn, or in our world, most often a vehicle for showing just how knowing, sophisticated, and urbane the mocker is at the expense of the mocked. Much of today's comedy is just a race to the bottom, to prove to one's fellow sophisticates how there is NOTHING one can't turn into an ironic joke, and nothing to be held sacred.

This brought to mind a quote from C.S. Lewis. "This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption."

Add new comment