Sit Down Comedy … August 31st, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Stupid Is as Stupid Is

One of my favorite movies of all time is Forrest Gump, featuring inspired acting by Tom Hanks, who portrays a mentally challenged man from Alabama, who ends up taking his limited abilities and travels the world, reaching thousands of people.

Famous line: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Although I find that to be insightful, I have to tell you that stupid is as stupid is.

Because every once in a while we all do stupid things but it doesn’t make us stupid.

One of the nastiest outgrowths of the social meanness that now occupies our country is the notion that some people are “just stupid.”

Once you convince those around you that some other group is full of “stupid people,” it’s not only simple to ignore them, but becomes much easier to mistreat them.

We have to learn the difference between stupid things and stupid people.

Well, let me use the video below to help make my point.

With hat in hand and my purse in possession, I launch out into my day, not becoming a stupid person because I did some stupid things, but instead, grateful that grace often covers a multitude of errors, if we keep our hearts humble.

There are two things that are not true about anyone in the human race:

No one is truly a genius, and no one is actually stupid.

 

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Getting in Character … June 29th, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Eating contest

From Act II: Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

It’s a common mistake.

Often in an attempt to seemingly simplify a job, we end up breaking it down into its external parts, while completely abandoning the passion that really makes it work.

The same is true for the actor.

When he or she first begins to view the world as a stage, many think the completion of the adventure settles in on three steps:

  1. Memorize your lines.
  2. Discover your entrance and exit.
  3. Learn where to stand.

The truth of the matter is, these three are merely the beginning, which often is abandoned to produce an adequate end.

That’s right. Memorizing your lines is not special, so it’s essential that once you retain them you forget that you ever had lines in the first place, but instead, realize that you are producing natural reactions to the unfolding plot.

As far as discovering an entrance and an exit, you will have to understand that this will expand as you gain further insight into the nature of the role you play in any given situation. It may require you to threaten an exit or instigate a surprise entrance.

And knowing where to stand makes you a fixture instead of part of the flow. Life rarely lets you perch, but instead, demands you keep moving in the right direction.

The missing ingredient for young thespians who are trying to get in character is, and always will be, passion. We’ve equated the word “passion” with romance, or sexuality, when actually it is the fuel of all human emotions, and propels us towards excitement.

So once you memorize your lines, discover your entrance or exit and learn where to stand, then the next thing you can do is forget it and set it to the side.

Instead, a hunger and a thirst must enter your soul for new commands:

1. Get hungry for your character.

  • Do I have limitations?
  • Is there a secret my character holds that needs to be revealed or healed?

2. Get thirsty to discover the elasticity of your character.

  • Limitations are always self-imposed. Lift them.

3. Keep looking for new angles.

  • Your character will never look stupid if he or she is willing to realize that everything written in stone crumbles.
  • There is much to learn, therefore there is much to seek.

If you lose your passion, you lose your character–so it’s more than memorizing lines, discovering your entrance and exit and learning where to stand.

Getting in character is walking away from the hard, fast rules … to find one’s true worth and ever-expanding mission.

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NEW BOOK RELEASE BY JONATHAN RICHARD CRING

WITHIN

A meeting place for folks who know they’re human

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Save Your Village… March 6, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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puddle water

I like to go to public parks to work on my writings and stuff. The scenery, atmosphere and intrusive clatter–well, I find exhilarating. Yet you do have to share the space with every living creature who habitates within.

Such was the case yesterday when a guy named Bunky came into my three square feet.

He was thirty-one years old and just as slight as I am husky, and wiry as I am cumbersome. We shared very little in common, but since proximity dictated either conversation or further social distancing, I jumped in.

Once I made my preliminary inquiries about his well-being, Bunky launched into a thirty-minute discourse on his life. Here are the highlights:

He had a nineteen-year-old girlfriend who is a junkie and needed him to go to work every day to get the money for her fix, so that she would not become violent and attack him. (In alternating presentations, she was referred to by Bunky as “lover, friend, enemy and bitch.”)

He had once been in a gang–I think it was the Crips–and told me he had killed a man, although he eyeballed me carefully to see if I was questioning his credibility. I didn’t. I saw no reason to authenticate a tale in progress.

He talked to me about the use of marijuana being helpful in relieving his back pain, brought on by years of working on cars, lying flat down on the hard concrete.

I wasn’t sure how long he was going to share, or if there would be a stopping point whatsoever–until his friends showed up. And then what had been a very intimate exchange was terminated as he rose to his feet, accepting the invitation of one of his cohorts, to go to another bench where they could smoke.

As quickly as it began it was over.

Being raised in a spiritual climate, I incriminated myself that I had not more sufficiently impacted Bunky’s world. It’s what we do best, you know. As human beings, we often “strain at the gnat and swallow the camel.” We criticize ourselves for what we don’t accomplish, while simultaneously failing to achieve what is set before us as our daily bread.

Let me share with you candidly, which is always my goal:

  • You are not going to change the world.
  • Jesus Christ didn’t do that.
  • He was smart enough to leave behind an example of exactly how things work.
  • Start where you are.

For you see, Bunky is not my problem There are many more qualified people to share, care and be aware of him than me. Here’s what I’m supposed to do:

  1. Find my village.
  2. Teach my village.
  3. Save my village.
  4. Let it travel.

I raised six boys in my household. For a brief period of human time, these young men sat at my table and listened to me expound on life. They also watched carefully to see if I followed up with my own choices. They were my village.

Also within that village was a handful of friends and comrades. They, too, were exposed to my experience.

I didn’t worry about changing a whole town, state or country. I found my village, I taught my village, I saved my village and then I let it travel.

Those young men met women and now their influence spreads from Miami to China to New York to Nashville to Dallas to Los Angeles. with films, music, business, ministry, recording, procreating and acting.

While some folks encourage me to spread out my influence as far as I possibly can, I would much rather have a thick spreading of peanut butter on a cracker than a thin application on a four-foot-long piece of French bread.

It’s simple–stop trying to change the world. Stop criticizing yourself for being ineffective.

  • Find your village, teach your village, save your village–then let it travel.

And always remember–leave your image in the puddle provided.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Our Redeemer… October 12, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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handsIt was a five-pound mini-barrel of pretzel chunks, stuffed with peanut butter, given to me by a friend who was beaming with delight when I opened it on Christmas morning and eyeballed the monstrosity for the first time.

He was nearly leaping with joy, explaining how he purchased the gift thinking it was ideal for me, in my travels, to have a ready-made snack which would last for quite a while–and to make sure that every time I grabbed a handful, I should think of him and know that he was praying for me.

Having some acting chops, I was able to feign great appreciation over the humongous container of over-salted carbohydrates and even dodge his ongoing discussion of it during the day over turkey and dressing.

Here’s the truth: nothing is more useless to a traveling person than a five-bound barrel of peanut-butter-stuffed pretzels. Even if you enjoy the flavor, lugging such a burden around is not worth the occasional benefit you would receive in tastiness.

I regifted.

That’s much the way I feel about the idea of heaven. Being informed by highly theological sorts that if I accept certain beliefs and receive adequate amounts of grace, that I will someday have an eternal home with golden streets and jasper walls just doesn’t get me through the daily chores of human struggle. I can’t become a better person by thinking about the day when I will no longer BE a person.Our Redeemer Lutheran Church

So as I head off tonight and tomorrow to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in McMurray, Pennsylvania, I will tell you what I think of the word “redeemer.”

Candidly, if Jesus is no more than a sacrificial lamb for my sins, it will be difficult for me to conjure any sentimentality for him in the midst of a traffic jam in the Steel City. At that point, I will revert to my training, giving into my frustration and festering nasty notions of mythical murders of nearby motorists. Here’s the kind of redeemer I need:

First and foremost, he needs to be a friend.

  • A friend is someone who tells you the truth but you still like him enough that you want him to hang around.
  • A friend is someone who catches you on a bad day but still shows up at eight o’clock the next morning for the next round.
  • A friend is someone who sticks closer than a brother.

My redeemer also needs to be a spotter.

  • I’m referring to that person who stands nearby when you’re lifting weights in a gymnasium, just in case what you’re attempting to take on becomes too much, and he or she can walk over and help lift the danger from your head.
  • I need a spotter who knows that I’m constantly trying to lose weight, and gently nudges me towards less caloric choices.
  • I need a spotter who knows me, loves me, but also challenges me to not bathe in God’s grace, but instead, pursue excellence by multiplying my talents.

And finally, I do need a savior.

If I were to describe the journey we call human life, I would refer to it as “pulling up a little short.” There always seems to be a few feet necessary to complete the task just when exhaustion suffocates our soul. At that point, I could use someone to carry me across the finish line.

If all God has to offer is heaven, He’s going to have some awfully crappy followers on earth. But I believe there’s more to being spiritual than waiting to be “spirited away” to the angelic Holiday Inn.

I believe that our redeemer is our friend, our spotter and our savior.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Missed Takes… January 2, 2012

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Jonathan in Miami

Shakespeare contended that all the world was a stage and we–the actors. Some folks would object to that characterization, insisting that they don’t want to live “pretend” lives.

But there’s nothing “pretend” about theater. Theater is about discovering your character, getting into character and staying in character. In the process of doing that, many errors can be made–and the uncovering of flaws and virtues is illuminating to the thespian and eventually enlightening to the audience. It’s even more true in the movie industry, for when you make a film, rather than having a single performance that you have to live and die with, as in legitimate theater, you can start and stop, and do many takes of the same scene until you find exactly what you want.

Of course, in the process, you end up with an abundance of “missed takes.”

But it doesn’t make any difference. As long as you keep three things in mind when you’re portraying a scene, you will be just fine and always in character.

(1) You must have the right part. In other words, show up knowing your lines. You can’t be reading someone else’s dialogue and think that you’re conveying your own message.

(2) You must have the right heart–a passionate wonder that causes you to pursue the truth of your character faithfully.

(3) And finally, you must have the right start. Showing up grumpy, frustrated, angry or preoccupied will certainly diminish your possibilities.

If you have the right part, heart and start you will succeed in theater–because even if your first or second takes don’t match the style of the show, you will be willing to revise your approach and do better. There is only one thing that makes a bad actor–someone who insists that he has the right interpretation, which causes him to fail to take direction.

Such also is life.

The abnormal fear that now permeates our society over making a mistake has generated a paranoid, lying and cheating generation of people who feel they can avoid all critique by simply insisting they are incapable of error. It makes us look stupid.

Let me give you an example. When I arrived at the church yesterday, I had a long ramp to climb with my bad knee. The dear pastor met me at the bottom of that ramp and greeted me with all the warmth of her heart. She walked up by my side as I panted and groaned a little bit from some pain. In that moment, I appeared weak. There was no need to pretend that I was macho and strong–my weakness was obvious and the only thing that would have made me seem weaker would have been to deny it.

We don’t garner respect by acting like we’re impervious to pain. We need to learn that mistakes are inevitable. They are merely “missed takes” as we live out our lives on the stage provided. There are times we will be weak. If we’ve taken the opportunity to build up our strengths, those moments of weakness will not appear to be fatal, but rather, human. It is our job, just as with the character actor on stage, to show up with the right part.

I will tell you this candidly–if you want to have the right part in life, always pick people over rules. History will be cruel to you if you’re always siding with rules,  regulations and commandments to the detriment of people. People are not always right but they are always closest to the heart of God.

And speaking of heart, you should make sure you have the right one–and to have the right heart in life is not to be error free, but to always pursue mercy over critique. I don’t care if other people want to criticize the world around them. I refuse to join in. You may argue with me, believing that SOME things need to be condemned or attacked. Feel free. I just know that the measure we measure out will be measured back to us. And I, who walk around filled with foibles, obesity and silliness, certainly require my share of mercy. To obtain that, I must be merciful. And considering the fact that I will make mistakes, I need to grant grace to those who preceded me in the process.

And finally, if you’re going to do this thing called “life” well, you have to make the right start. Because back to that climb up the ramp yesterday at the church, there was no need for me to pretend that I was not laboring to achieve it. What WAS available to me was to remain in good cheer about the endeavor instead of casting a shadow of worry. Yes, the right start in life is to always find a reason to have good cheer rather than inserting the fussiness and futility of worry.

You and I will make mistakes. They are like missed takes on our life’s performance.

But if we have the right part–a love of people instead of adherence to rules–and the right heart–mercy displacing critique–and the right start–good cheer bumping the foolishness of worry out of the way–we will live to act another day.

If all the world is a stage and we are actors upon it, then take a little time … to study your script.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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