Monday, February 25, 2008

Christian Comedy Boom

While stand-up comedy was in its golden age in the ‘70s, Christian stand-up was in its fetal stages. Thirty years later we are in a Christian stand-up boom. Between the Blue Collar Comedy tour (Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy often reference the Lord in their acts) and what may be the only stand-up sensation of the YouTube era, clean jokes about family life are more popular than ever.

It may seem like religion and comedy are nothing new—after all, many of the greatest comedians are Jews. But many Jewish comedians either take a secular approach or are downright hostile towards religion.

Indeed, many comedians are Christian. But not to the extent of preaching Christianity in their acts. If cable TV drove the comedy boom, the web is fanning the hellfire-and-brimstone flames of evangelical Christian comedy.

Many TV stations want to appeal to all religions and faiths, thus shying away from comedy of any particular religious bent. The web has no such restrictions, letting Christian message groups and blogs delight in the works of a Brad Stine or an Anita Renfroe.

But it is important to note that almost all comedy blogs and sites—sites as diverse as Comedy Central Insider, Shecky and Cringe Humor—do not cover these comedians. Will this change after the NY Times article on Renfroe? Or is this yet another example of how most popular blogs reflect city culture—indeed, the interests of the creative class—not necessarily what the rest of the country thinks.

I am a staunch atheist, but I find Renfroe’s rise to the top interesting. She appealed to a large online niche (evangelical mothers).

Is this not a similar story to that of Aziz Ansari? Didn’t interest in alternative comedy snowball after Ansari’s M.I.A. bit (the only other famous stand-up video in recent online memory) went viral on the indie music blogs? If so, then does this mean that the future of stand-up is finding a niche audience that shares similar obsessions with the comic?

What does this mean for comedians who touch on a variety of topics? It may be wise to put up a video regarding a certain topic on a site that focuses on that topic. So if you have a joke on Facebook, see if you can post that video as a link for all your Facebook friends and see if they can relate, if not laugh.

UPDATE: Thanks for the link Buzzfeed!

1 comment:

Abbi said...

"clean jokes about family and life" does not equal comedy with a Christian message. It means the comedy might be suitable for a Christian audience.

I know nothing of the "Boom", (I don't know the profit numbers or the key players), but I would guess that clean comedy has always been essential to reaching the masses. It's a foundation from which blue comedy can be built to great heights. Not a trend.

You say it yourself (in a later post), something that goes viral may be obselete in two years. Related topic: let's make a deity out of Tay Zonday so that doesn't happen.