I often get booked as a Christian Comedian. It’s really a misnomer, and I’m sure there are many who would agree: no, Taylor Mason, you are no Christian comedian.
I am, however, a comedian. And a Christian.
To understand the difference, here is a short history:
It’s a fairly new phenomenon. To simplify things we go back to the 1970’s when a Viet Nam vet named Mike Warnke turned a best-selling book, “The Satan Seller,” into a live comedy/revival/religious service. He began selling out churches and theaters telling jokes and stories and doing altar calls. Warnke’s exaggerated personal claims and inability to separate fact from fiction eventually got him banned him from celebrity and put a kibosh on his career.
Ironically, he paved the way for the union of comedy and the Christian church.
Fast forward to the early 1990’s and enter Christian songwriter, musician and minister Bill Gaither. Riding the success of hit videos, Mr. Gaither became a phenomenon, selling out 20,000-seat arenas with an array of gospel singers who put on six-hour concerts for sell-out crowds. The highlight of these services was often a comedy routine between Gaither and one Mark Lowry. Their on-stage persona and their sometimes-improvised, sometimes-scripted dialogue became the stuff of legend. It is not unusual for fans to list the comedy as their favorite part of the event. These men are incredibly talented and knock-down, drag-out, funny.
Individually, both Gaither and Lowry moved contemporary comedy into the mainstream of the Christian entertainment scene. A gifted communicator and preacher, Ken Davis was introduced to Mr. Gaither’s “Homecoming” audiences, and carved out a niche as a stand-up comic, inspirational speaker and preacher. Mr. Lowry presented to the world a young female comic named Chonda Pierce, whose career has spawned thousands of comedians, not to mention many female comics who share her faith and her resolve to spread the love of Jesus Christ to as many people as she can. In turn, both Pierce and Davis spend much time cultivating comedians, working tirelessly promoting comedy, giving fledgling acts some support, all the while evangelizing and wearing faith on their sleeves.
These are comics who can compete with the people you see on Comedy Central or who play the comedy club circuit, balancing their humor with a message and an individual voice.
It’s big business. Mike Williams, another “forefather” of Christian Comedy, routinely sells out of CDs and DVDs at his live shows, while giving his life to service and helping the less fortunate. Tim Grable, Lenny Sisselman, Mike Smith and others run artist-management companies that keep their clients busy and creative. As for media, Thou Shalt Laugh 5 will be released in June 2011. It’s the fifth in a series of DVDs that have sold in excess of 550,000 copies since the first came out five years ago, featuring comedians whose faith in Christ is part of their life.
For me, I take this seriously: I follow Jesus. I don’t preach. I don’t evangelize. I’m a comedian, and I do what I do to the best of my ability, for whomever. If my humble little presentation inspires someone, it has less to do with me and more to do with Him than anything I said or did.
I guess I have that in common with Christian comedians.
To book Comedian Taylor Mason for your event call 615 283 0039 or email [email protected]