Among the swanky pleasures to be had in this biz, getting all four editions of Thou Shalt Laugh sent to me in the mail gratis over the last couple of years has ranked right up there with the best. I like to laugh, and I am mostly pained by stuff like Norbit, You, Me and Dupree, Click, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. The list could go on quite a bit. I understand the appeal, you know. But there’s so much more to comedy than that.
Better yet, with the release of Thou Shalt Laugh 4, which I reviewed last week at PtP, I also had the chance, courtesy of the film’s producers (who also happen to be my bosses, through a different corporate food chain), to talk with show emcee John Tesh about his involvement in the project.
Acknowledging that he probably wouldn’t have done TSL4 if he “didn’t have a teen-aged daughter in the house,” Tesh sees a lot more at stake than just working on projects that his kids enjoy—which they nonetheless do.
I think we have to be very careful as Christians of not going back to the days of—and I think there’s a log of churches like this—the Crusades, and “If you’re not one of us, we’re not going to hang with you. In fact, we’re not going to let our kids hang with you, and you’re just wrong. You have to change your faith.” And during the Crusades, it was, “If you’re not a Christian, we’re going to burn you.” So I [prefer] leading by faith, leading by example.
Our mission in our family is spreading the Gospel, but it’s less proselytizing and more doing of our personal best to find a way to be salt and light, if you will. A lot of what we do on stage is to encourage people to volunteer, and provide a forum for that—not to try to take people’s religion away from them, which is what I have to say a lot of Christians try to do.
And I think a lot of what we do as Christians today, to be specific, is to build these giant churches that have their own food court, their own mall, their own basketball courts, their own school. And so you get to the point where your kids come out of that, and what happens?
My daughter goes to this performing arts school in
, a charter school, where it’s a lot of inner-city kids; and she didn’t have that experience. We didn’t put her in a Christian school, or a private school or whatever—and she wouldn’t have had that experience; she wouldn’t really even know how to communicate with people outside of that environment. Los Angeles
We acknowledge that Satan is in this world, and there is a great darkness that needs to be respected, if you will; but I think there’s been a retreating of what you’re talking about: which is, why don’t we embrace the light of what Christianity is, which is hope—and love?
But I think what happens is—and you talked about it earlier, where these battle lines end up being drawn—Christians decide they’re going to pick that One Thing, maybe same-sex marriage; but there’s a lot of stuff in the Bible that’s considered just as bad as that.
But when draw battle lines in one area like that, that becomes what you’re known for. And that’s one thing that casts a lot of darkness on Christians as individuals—and on the faith itself.
So Tesh is thrilled with the chance to be involved with something like Thou Shalt Laugh. “When I watch my fifteen-year-old, my hip-hop daughter sitting down to watch the first few episodes and just laughing hysterically, I think, ‘That’s just great!’ The only other person she laughs at that hard is George Lopez. It’s very cool.”