I am a fan of comedy. I like to laugh and smile and be reminded that there is always a lighter side of life. I like the reality that complex issues can be confronted with wit and common understanding instead of confrontation, anger, and bitterness. I greatly value those people who are able to take a variety of life situations and use humor to explore their confusion, their frustration, or often their simple ridiculosity.
That said, between open mic nights, late night television, and comedy traffic school, I have also encountered both very good and very bad incarnations of the comic spirit. Some comedy is just plain boring. Other comedy, often relying solely on racial slurs or sexual innuendo, is offensive. Although there is a truth to the idea that making fun of oneself breaks the ice, some comedians go so deep into their personal neuroses that their routines become more depressing and uncomfortable than anything else. Then, scattered across stand-up stages and primetime line-ups is the comedy that makes me laugh; that tells me that I’m not alone in my confusion, frustration, and goofiness; and that reminds me that often the best way to deal with some of the things life throws our way is just to smile and nod.
My most recent trip to the comedy stages—Thou Shalt Laugh 3, the third installment of the Christian stand-up comedy series that has been making audiences laugh since it first came out two years ago. Exactly what the definition of “Christian comedy” is, I’m not sure. I’m guessing that somewhere in each comedian’s contract were limitations on language and subject matter, as the program produced is much cleaner and more appropriate for audiences of all ages than most other comedy routines out there. Since their target audience is likely to be Biblically familiar, there are references made to Bible stories and God. And since all the comedians are Christians themselves, portions of each of their routines do poke fun at some of the more unique aspects of the Christian lifestyle.
As far as Thou Shalt Laugh 3 in particular, the show is hosted by Sinbad, and performing in it are Taylor Mason, Thor Ramsey, Leanne Morgan, Lisa Alvarado, and Horace H.B. Sanders. With two women and three men, a variety of racial backgrounds, and a range of performance styles, the lineup offers a decent assortment of routines. For younger members of the audience, Taylor Mason’s puppetry and ventriloquism are particularly entertaining. For those of us playing the dating game, Lisa Alvarado brings a smile to some of its more comic moments (especially within the Christian dating scene). But with many of the routines focused on marriage and family related issues, perhaps most likely to enjoy Thou Shalt Laugh 3 are the Christian husband, wife, mother, or father.
As far as where the Thou Shalt Laugh 3 fits within the greater comedy scale, let’s just say it’s far superior to my recent traffic school experience, but not exactly the best I’ve ever seen. Like most comedy, there are jokes that fall flat and just aren’t all that funny. Not every joke thrown out is exactly the most original on the planet. And although much of the family-focused comedy may be just what husbands, wives, mothers, or fathers need to be able look at some of their daily struggles with more of smile than a frown, as someone who has yet to reach that point in my life, I found much of the comedy to be unidentifiable and at times depressing. Sure, I know marriage and family aren’t a perpetually amusing romantic comedy, but come on, if you actually want me to overcome the fears and confusions of the single person and walk down that aisle someday, at least give me something to believe there’s at least a sliver of a fairy tale somewhere in there.