On the Lighter Side

Dr. Jerry Newcombe

On the Lighter Side

Why can’t modern comedians be clean? They would be funnier if they were.

Recently, I went to support a friend, whom I know from church and lately from our local Toastmasters club, who had the moxie to get up and do an 8-minute or so stand-up comedy routine at an improvisational night. It was gutsy for her to do this. And to her credit, there were no bad words gushing from her lips -- as there were from just about every other would-be comic that night.

There was an MC, who was crude. He was so nasty, I was compelled to leave for a while.

Then there were unprofessional would-be comedians, one after another, many of them going for cheap laughs by titillating the audience with crudities. It was embarrassing. (I understand that some of them brought their own audiences with them -- by getting family and friends to support them.)

Then came to the stage my friend who didn’t curse at all. She was a breath of fresh air. And funny too -- without resorting to bathroom humor, as so many before her did.

When a comedian is forced to resort to his wit, he is much funnier by being clean. I’m glad W.C. Fields and Groucho Marx were born when they were. If they belonged to a later generation, they could have easily gone the lazy route for cheap laughs. But I guarantee you people wouldn’t be watching their movies half a century later (as I do).

I often write about more serious matters, like politics and morals, but I think it’s good to reflect on entertainment choices once in a while. Entertainment has a greater influence on our culture than we sometimes realize.

Columnist and author Robert Knight once said this: “If I had my choice to controlling Washington or Hollywood, I’d pick Hollywood in a heartbeat. Hollywood ... has enormous influence on our culture. Political institutions don’t operate in a vacuum, they arise out of culture. I’d rather control the high ground of culture than the political superstructure that grows out of that culture.”

That’s a fascinating remark coming from him, since he lives in the D.C. area and has worked in the Beltway for years, for righteousness' sake.

So I commend my brave comedic friend for her willingness to come out of the church cocoon and speak comically before a potentially hostile audience.

My mentor and long-time pastor, Dr. D. James Kennedy, with whom I had the privilege to co-write several books, once noted that we should encourage those Christians who feel led to use their gifts and talents for God’s glory, even if that includes pursuing the arts.

Dr. Kennedy said: “The final barrier we must overcome in order to see our nation return to Christian values is to take all the potentialities of this country -- in other words, every element of its culture and every one of its institutions -- and bring them under the control of Christ and His Word. As we seek to dedicate our lives to the work to which God has specifically called us and we attempt to do that work to the glory of God, then God will use our efforts to bring our entire culture under the control of biblical principles.”

Thus, we need to encourage more Christians, as they feel led, to pursue their calling, even if that means going into Hollywood. (I praise the Lord for the Christian support groups there now.)

As Christian consumers, meanwhile, we need to choose the good and eschew the bad. Hollywood will still make bad movies even if we boycotted all the bad ones, because some film-makers have an anti-Christian animus they want to express. But there are many Hollywood producers who are only in it for the money. If family oriented films make the most money (and they generally do, if well done), then they’ll make them.

Regardless of the consequences, as consumers we need to be consistently Christian in our entertainment choices.

Every time you see a movie, you vote -- with your ticket purchase -- and say, “Yes, Hollywood, make more movies like this.” Thankfully, groups like Ted Baehr’s Movieguide.org can provide detailed information, so we don’t waste our money or time on bad movies.

I’m also grateful that there are more and more good movies being made all the time, even explicitly Christian ones, such as the movies by the Brothers Kendrick, who made Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Courageous.

It has been said: We are what we think about all the time. If we feed our minds with worldly junk, it can’t help but impact us.

The Apostle Paul gives us great counsel, that also applies to our entertainment choices. Choose the good; (implied) reject the bad: “...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Jerry Newcombe is the senior producer and host of Truth that Transforms with D. James Kennedy (formerly The Coral Ridge Hour). He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation and Answers from the Founding Fathers. Jerry co-wrote (with Dr. Peter Lillback) the bestselling George Washington's Sacred Fire. He hosts the website www.jerrynewcombe.com.

Publication date: February 20, 2012

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