Monday, June 26, 2006

Was Jesus Funny?

To take care of stress when I can't justify another spa splurge, I prefer a good dose of chuckles and guffaws. That's probably why one of my favorite scenes in Mel Gibson's Passion is extra-biblical -- the brief clip of Jesus and Mary having a water fight. Our Lord had to be the kind of person you could tease, because nothing shatters barriers between cultures, generations, and genders more effectively than self-deprecatory, intimacy-building wit.

In fact, I'd like to see a comedian like Jerry Seinfeld or Billy Crystal do a stand-up routine using only the words in the Sermon on the Mount. Why? Because I have a sneaking suspicion that Jesus had the chutzpah to be a riot and probably used slapstick-ish non-verbals to lure laughter out of his listeners.

But when you're a Christ-follower, even your humor has to walk the narrow road. Here are three guidelines I impose on myself:
I can't get mean. Even when certain people started calling me "Mom-Deeza" after I got choked up at the booting of American Idol's one voluptuous woman of color.

I can't be coarse. Some moviemakers go for a cheap laugh by resorting to bathroom humor or unsavory innuendo. But true wit requires the creativity of wordplay and timing, and elicits delight that's not tainted by disgust.

I can't manipulate. I try not to use joking or teasing as a way to control, delivering imperative messages masquerading as humor. People see through that trick every time.
What about you? Do you think Jesus was funny? Do you see laughter as a lasting gift or something that will disappear with tears once we're in heaven?


Julie Garmon said...

That's my favorite scene too. It makes me cry happy tears to see Jesus and Mary goofing off.

Thanks for your post!


Jeanne Damoff said...

I think laughter will be as much a part of heaven as music. And I also think Jesus had a great sense of humor. When I read passages like the one in which He compares the Pharisees to blind guides leading the blind into a ditch, I picture Him saying this with a twinkle in His eye. I mean, that's a pretty funny visual, don't you think?

I agree with you, though, that there's a fine line we should walk. I grew up in a family that prized witty comebacks, and I developed a quick sarcastic tongue. After I met Christ He convicted me that my words have made people laugh, but it was often at someone's expense.

Like you I try to avoid humor that borders on being mean or course. But I love to laugh--the harder the better. I even have a points system for people who make me laugh. You can read about it on my blogger profile.

Happy Hilarity, Mitali! Go forth and crack up.

Samantha said...

I agree with you! I love to laugh, but there is definately a border. I try to avoid movies, shows, comedians that aren't so nice, if you know what I mean. Give me my Spongebob or Ice Age anyday. I also find that old people have a fantastic sense of humor, like the senior citizen whose sandwhich I made at Subway the other day.
"Knock knock"
"Who's there?" (me)
"Interupting cow"
Come on, that one is cute.

Mitali Perkins said...

tee, hee ... that is a good one ... i'll have to use it on my boys ... don't you think it's harder for girls to be funny than boys? it's like we're trained to laugh instead of cracking other people up ... what's up with that?