Friday, October 12, 2007

Talking About Christian Humor Blogging, Part 2

Welcome to Joel of Crummy Church Signs, the man who collects bad church sign marquees and skewers them with withering theological wit. His blog banner quotes 1 Corinthians 4:14: "I am not writing this to shame you but to warn you...." and then admits, actually, he's probably doing a bit of both. Works for me: honestly, I think all the world is ancient Corinth these days. My comments are in red, just like Jesus'. So: take it away, Joel!

What is the role of humor on your blog?
To point out the absurdities that Christians use when trying to promote ourselves and our beliefs. If Christians were to think hard about the messages that many churches put up on their marquees, the only two options are to laugh about it or cry about it. I choose the former.

Why is "Christian Humor" not an oxymoron?
God created everything. That includes our sense of humor.
My guess is that the Garden of Eden was a funny place. However, Creation is now fallen because of original sin. Our role as Christians while here on earth is to attempt to reclaim some of that original splendor of creation. We do that by leading others to a relationship with God (as was originally intended for everyone before sin separated us), but we also have other roles. For example, Christian artists try to reclaim some of the beauty of the Garden or try to communicate how our definition of beauty has been altered by the fall. I guess I'm trying to do the same thing, except with humor instead of beauty. With the clear exception of this answer, which was remarkably unfunny. [Yeah, but you're preaching it, brother! I feel a philosophical question coming on: is humor true, good, and beautiful? I'll sic that on my students.]

Are you funny offline?
Depends who you ask. Ask my 7th grade students: Yes, they think I am funny. Ask my wife: I'm not so funny.

Are there "BIG POINTS" in your humor posts, or are you just goofing around?
Sometimes both. I really like it when a few signs (and reviews) in a row are just really goofy or off-color, then I can hit with a very important theological point on the next sign. It's that sort of contrast in humor styles that keeps my blog exciting (for me).

What makes something humorous, in your opinion?
I like subtlety. I like being one of only a few people that will get the joke. I like intelligent humor. I like timely humor. I like satire. I like quick retorts, because they show the person didn't have days to plan something. There are other things that make something funny, but those are my favorites.

What kind of humor crosses the line in your blog, if any?
I'm not afraid to delve into PG-13 (or farther) juvenile humor if a church sign is really asking for it. Also, it sometimes funnier to use a curse word than to not use one. Sorry, but sometimes "$#!t" is just plain funnier than "pooh". I don't really talk that way in real life...but I find that when writing I sometimes really feel the need to sell the joke. Those that see the conflict of interests between parts of this answer and the "oxymoron" question, that's just all the more reason I need some grace! [OK, revised philosophy question: "is juvenile humor ever true, good and beautiful? Discuss." I like it.]

What humorous post did you create and really like that just flopped?
Some of my guest posts at
Central Snark I have thought were golden...and didn't get much of a response. Some of the ones that I sort of half-@$ed got a great response! I still am developing my "voice" as a humor writer outside of the realm of church signs, so I'm still fairly unsure of what will "hit" and "miss". [That's so true. My all time favorite sign and retort on Crummy Church Signs was this one:
Sign: Kill the Devil!
Joel: Can we......DO that? What's taken so long, then?
(See it here.) I still don't know why. But I read it and literally laughed until I cried for 20 minutes straight. Says more about me, I think.]

Are there any humorists (written or on screen) you really like?
The Office and 30Rock are the only "sitcoms" I watch anymore. I really liked Seinfeld when it was on. I like The Venture Brothers and Invader Zim (both cartoons). I enjoy reading Diesel's stuff on Mattress Police. The funniest novel I have read in a very long while is The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie. It's sort of P.G. Wodehouse in its feel (another favorite humorist of mine). I have found that most people who call themselves Christian humorists aren't.

Humor: evangelization, frivolity, or neither?
Or both? Who says evangelism can't be frivolous? Seems like me might win more people to Christ if evangelism was fun instead of a boring, nerve-wracking chore.

How do you keep it up online when you don't feel funny?
I cheat. I post the user-submitted reviews.

Name one thing Jesus probably laughed about.
When Nicodemus thought Jesus was being literal about the "born again" thing in John 3. Surely Jesus laughed and thought to Himself, "What a dumbass."

OK, that last one made me laugh aloud, although I think the man who said "let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no" may have thought "Oh Nicodemus, you're such a lovable literalist sap!" Maybe.

Coming Monday: Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester.


Joel B. said...

Thanks IC. And I agree with your thoughts about Jesus and Nicodemus :)

the frogster said...

Thanks IC- nice job.

And thanks to you too, Joel. I dig your site a bunch. My only difficulty is that you're pretty darn clever, so most times the comments I would make about your signs aren't as funny as the stuff you've already said. So I'm left with nothing. It's good to hear someone say that a sense of humor is not contrary to faith, but an essential ingredient. Kudos to you, sir.

Joel B. said...


That's my same dilemma when someone sends in a good gets stuck in my head and I've got nothing to top it. So I stopped trying a long time ago and just use the user-submitted reviews.

Good luck on your upcoming humor-blogs review. I know I gave you the scores, comments and encouragement you deserve...I hope the rest did too.