I often get booked as a Christian Comedian. It’s really a misnomer, and I’m sure there are many who would agree: no, Taylor Mason, you are no Christian comic.
I am, however, a comedian. And a Christian.
Short History of a Christian Comedian
It’s a fairly new phenomenon. To simplify things we go back to the 1970’s when a Viet Nam vet named Mike Warnke turned a best-selling book, “The Satan Seller,” into a live comedy/revival/religious service. He began selling out churches and theaters telling jokes and stories and doing altar calls. Warnke’s exaggerated personal claims and inability to separate fact from fiction eventually got him banned him from celebrity and put a kibosh on his career.
Ironically, he paved the way for the union of comedy and the Christian church.
Fast forward to the early 1990’s and enter Christian songwriter, musician, and minister Bill Gaither. Riding the success of hit videos, Mr. Gaither became a phenomenon, selling out 20,000-seat arenas with an array of gospel singers who put on six-hour concerts for sell-out crowds. The highlight of these services was often a comedy routine between Gaither and one Mark Lowry. Their on-stage persona and their sometimes-improvised, sometimes-scripted dialogue became the stuff of legend. It is not unusual for fans to list the comedy as their favorite part of the event. These men are incredibly talented and knock-down, drag-out, funny.
Individually, both Gaither and Lowry moved contemporary Christian comedy into the mainstream of the Christian entertainment scene. A gifted communicator and speaker, Ken Davis was introduced to Mr. Gaither’s “Homecoming” audiences and carved out a niche as a stand-up comic, inspirational speaker and preacher. Mr. Lowry presented to the world a young female comic named Chonda Pierce, whose career has spawned thousands of Christian comedians, not to mention many female comics who share her faith and her resolve to spread the love of Jesus Christ to as many people as she can. In turn, both Pierce and Davis spend much time cultivating comedians, working tirelessly promoting comedy, giving fledgling acts some support, all the while evangelizing and wearing faith on their sleeves.
These are comics who can compete with the people you see on Comedy Central or who play the comedy club circuit, balancing their humor with a message and an individual voice.
It’s big business. Mike Williams, another “forefather” of Christian Comedy, routinely sells out of CDs and DVDs at his live shows, while giving his life to service and helping the less fortunate. Tim Grable, Lenny Sisselman, Mike Smith and others run artist-management companies that keep their clients busy and creative. As for media, Thou Shalt Laugh 5 was released in June 2011. It’s the fifth in a series of DVDs that have sold in excess of 550,000 copies since the first came out five years ago, featuring comedians whose faith in Christ is part of their life.
For me, I take this seriously: I follow Jesus. I don’t preach. I don’t evangelize. I’m a comedian, and I do what I do to the best of my ability, for whomever. If my humble little presentation inspires someone, it has less to do with me and more to do with Him than anything I said or did.
I guess I have that in common with Christian comedians.
Just so there isn’t a question about where I stand. I follow Jesus Christ. I have for most of my life, in one form or another, regardless of my actions (often questionable and stupid) and the perception of what I’ve done. I don’t claim to be “born again.” I was born once (no need to repeat that), then I made a choice, and I have stuck with it. I think loyalty, perseverance and consistency are important in life, and while those may not be solely attributed to my faith, those characteristics are certainly part of my faith.
I believe that Christ was put on earth for a reason. I believe Him to be the Son of God, and that He is my Savior. I’m happy to discuss and describe in detail that leap of faith with anyone who cares to do so. Be forewarned: I am very comfortable, very confident and very committed to my core beliefs. I’ve been grilled about it, insulted and snubbed because of it, but it’s part of who I am and I don’t waiver.
I’m not superior to anybody else, Christian or not, and I certainly don’t have all the answers to life’s most difficult questions. I don’t think all the answers are in The Bible, either. That would make things easy, but God has given us souls and brains and abilities to work things out, although we seem to do our best to ignore those God-given traits.
I think I’m probably a “liberal” Christian, whatever that means; I don’t hate any particular group of people – I certainly do not hold ill feelings or an extreme dislike for gay people, whom I see as children of God, just like you and I – and I try hard to be compassionate and forgiving with those whom I disagree with and don’t respect (murderers, criminals, celebrities are three examples); I vote for the person I think is the best person for the job, which means I have no allegiance to a particular political party, and I would not be opposed to voting for someone of a different faith – or no faith – if I felt he/she was the best person for the job; I totally believe in freedom of religion; if I am forced to decide, I will always opt for “pro life,” but I feel duplicitous just writing that because who am I to tell a woman what to do with her body? Especially someone I don’t know?
I like people, all people, and that includes Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Keith Olbermann and even Pastor Rick Warren. I’m not a hater. I might disagree with you, but I will try not to argue my case. I’ll try and make it.
The fact that I don’t use profanity on stage during live performances has nothing to do with my being Christian. The reason I am “clean” is a calculated preference on my part.
I am not a Christian comedian. I’m a comedian who is a Christian, and that is a very important distinction.
I am not defined by my job.
At the same time, there are Christian comics who I find to be as funny as anyone in the country: Jeff Allen, Tim Hawkins, Daren Streblow and John Crist, among others.
I’d be their opening act any day.
Taylor Mason is a comedian, a musician, a ventriloquist, writer and gadget freak. He has headlined every major comedy club in the United States, and has played Carnegie Hall and The Sydney Opera House in Australia. He has been part of two Emmy-winning television programs, including his children’s TV show, “Taylor’s Attic.” He is featured in comedy DVDs “Thou Shalt Laugh,” “Thou Shalt Laugh 2” , “Thou Shalt Laugh 3,” and “Thou Shalt Laugh 4“ plus two episodes of the hit comedy series “Bananas.” Taylor works a mind-boggling 200 nights a year, in front of every kind of audience, and has managed to stay married for the past 22 years to his wife, Marsia.
To book Comedian Taylor Mason for your event or advertising campaign contact Tim Grable at 615-283-0039 or visit The Grable Group or email [email protected]