What’s So Funny? … May 9, 2013

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laugh maskI made one of those classic mistakes.

Spurred on by some friends and supporters, for a season I decided to advertise myself as a comedian or a humorist. It seemed like a good idea. After all, most people like light-hearted material over crusty pages with darkened corners.

But here’s what I discovered: arriving at my first engagement, fully promoted, a gentleman ambled up to me and said, “So I hear you’re a comedian.” (I would describe his tone as a mingling of spit and vinegar, accentuated with a sneer.)

I was in trouble.

For honestly, the best way to make sure that people will NOT find joviality in your material is to suggest to them that it is meant to be giggly. We are a highly independent species, bound and determined to push forward our own opinions, even if they’re wrong.

It took about two weeks, but I caught on. I dropped the foolish title from my advertising and decided to just go in front of the audience and let the chips fall where they may. Guess what? I was suddenly funny again.

So here’s what I learned from that experience. You might find it beneficial if you are in the pursuit of offering levity to the planet.

1. Don’t TRY to be funny.

2. BE funny–by sharing your “tries.” People love to laugh at our failures. You can call it sick, or just dub it predictable.

3. Don’t make fun of people. It’s cheap and eventually there is someone out there who will get a bead on your oddities–and decimate your character.

4. Make people believe in fun. In the midst of a world of turmoil, discussing the layers of conflict rarely brings about the energy to do anything about it. We have to believe that life is fun or we’ll stop showing up.

5. Don’t lose the humor of God. I was at a church service one time and we were all laughing, having a good time before the service, when the pastor said, “Let’s all calm down and get ready for worship.” I had to object. I replied, “What are you trying to do? Scare God away?” If God does not promote joy, then He’s probably pretty grouchy. I don’t think it does us any good to believe in a grouchy God.

6. And we promote the humor of God because God saves the lost THROUGH humor. The parables of Jesus are riddled by one-liners, set-ups and little stabs of comedy. If you can’t get people to look at their lives through the prism of jubilation and with a bit of jocular nature, the pain involved in changing is just too great.

So to answer the question “what’s so funny?” — it would be me, when I don’t TRY to be funny. And it would be you AND me when we realize that “be of good cheer” is the only way to overcome the world’s tribulation.

 

 

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

Always Starting Over … January 13, 2013

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shoes

Above are the shoes I was wearing tonight as I set up my equipment at All Saints Lutheran Church in Tamarac, Florida. (All Saints Lutheran–you really have to admire a church that makes sure it doesn’t offend any divine possibilities.)

I took a picture of my shoes because they are a symbol of what I do. I travel. Perhaps many people would find that difficult, boring or even impossible to achieve, but the challenge I receive in journeying across this country enables me to put into practice a precious principle. For you see–I’m always starting over.

I can finish up sharing at one venue and make great friends, receive hugs and an occasional kiss on the cheek, but as soon as I climb back into my van and turn out of that parking lot, my next destination has absolutely no idea of the magnitude of the affection just extended my way–or, for that matter, how much I treasured the folks I encountered.

Each time I stop off, my shoes join me in being a stranger. My philosophy of life is constantly being tested, because rather than being continually surrounded by patrons, family, friends and beloved well-wishers, I am usually in the presence of cautious and even suspicious individuals, who are trying to figure out who I am simply by eyeballing the cut of my jib.

So if I don’t know who I am, I certainly will not be able to convince anybody why they should care. I will tell you right now that a good percentage of the problems in this country are due to the fact that we are all encouraged to have an overblown assessment of ourselves and our abilities, which, when put to the test, come up short, making us look like we’ve been freshly smacked in the kisser with a coconut cream pie. There is power in knowing who you are. There is also a great blessing in my life of having that identity continually questioned, so that in the process of reestablishing daily the factual nature of my true character, I also can bring glory to God by every once in a while sprouting a good work or two.

After I establish who I am, I am then given the gift of sharing why I am. Once I share why I am, I can answer the question that fills the heart of every human being. Why should I care?

If we all walk around this planet expecting props for the magnificent manner with which we breathe, we will eventually destroy one another because we feel offended by the lack of appreciation for our yet-undisclosed abilities.

I like starting over. It adds muscle, credence and intelligence to what I believe and teach. It means that my talent can win over my looks. It confirms that having heart is not a lost art in a society that boasts its indifference.

I will put on my shoes in the morning and go out to meet more people who don’t know anything about me except the propaganda written on a piece of paper, which many of them will never read and the rest rarely believe. If I don’t have a gift out of my soul to carefully place into their souls, I am of little use.

So tonight I will do three things:  (1) clean out the basement of my emotions of all unnecessary and unwarranted ego; (2) think about funny things so I’m ready to be of good cheer in the atmosphere of what could be sour dispositions; and (3) spend some time with my heavenly Father, feeling valued–just in case His human creation forgets to grant me that courtesy.

I can recommend starting over. Otherwise you live under the delusion that everybody around you is madly in love with you and thinks you’re the coolest person on earth. They really don’t. They’re just trying to do the best they can and would certainly welcome any overture on your part to make their lives easier.

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

Ah-choo … September 10, 2012

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I like to sneeze. I didn’t used to like to do it. At one time in my life, I thought every sneeze was a precursor of the common cold, lending itself to bronchitis or even pneumonia. I now realize that a sneeze can be quite a pleasant experience–the body’s way of expelling something unnecessary in the nasal passages so the little troupers can work better. If you think about it, a sneeze feels good–clears the head and lends itself to an invigorating nose blowing. It’s not only healthy to sneeze, it’s also quite beneficial to accept the fact that sneezinghappens (although I don’t think you’ll ever see that on a bumper sticker).

Original caption: Not faked. I was trying to t...

Original caption: Not faked. I was trying to take a hankie photo cos I have a cold and sneezed! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the question: what else happens? What other factors are so common to us as human beings–and needful–that they pepper our existence every day?I can immediately think of two: failure and fear.

Let me play prophet. I predict that you, sometime during this twenty-four-hour period, will experience a failure, and will need to deal first-hand with a fear cropping up in your life. You see? That’s a guarantee.

After all, chances are you won’t win the lottery. It’s unlikely someone will walk up on the street and tell you how beautiful you are. You probably won’t get that promotion. And rainbows are saved for special occasions–or we wouldn’t pull the car over to stop and look at them. What IS going to happen to every human being every single day is failure and fear.

Now, nobody wants to talk about this because it sounds negative. But believing that failure and fear are negatives is similar to thinking that every sneeze is going to lead to death. Just as the common sneeze is available to us to expel unnecessary invaders in our sinuses, failure and fear come into our lives to excavate and evict emotional, spiritual and mental intruders. It’s just hard to understand that. It’s difficult when anticipation paints such a beautiful picture of what could be–to end up, in its place, with a smeared finger-painting done by a five-year-old.

Failure hurts. Then fear comes along to try to relieve the pain by replacing it with an ache of its own. And then, of course, we have the compounding situation that we begin to experience failure because we’re afraid. So on top of the natural conclusions that happen via time and chance, we add unnecessary decisions brought about by weakness and anxiety.

So how can we learn to be the kind of people who approach failure and fear like we do sneezing? After all, spirituality is not expressed through the amount of study we pursue, but through the confidence that is left behind through the graduation.

If you believe in God, your face should look more hopeful than the face of someone who doesn’t believe. It can’t be faked; it has to be real.

Since I am going to fail, what is my best reaction to the inevitable shortcoming that invites my long-suffering? Jesus said it was good cheer. Of course, good cheer sounds like something we wish people at Christmas time, as we are surrounded by bows, presents, pine trees and holly. But good cheer is the awareness that filure is our friend. Good cheer knows that most failure is the way to get rid of bad ideas, and if we stop resisting the natural conclusion to pursuing an inadequate path, we don’t have to waste time having our feelings hurt or wondering where we made a bad turn.

The only real certainty in life is uncertainty. So how can I co-exist with an uncertain life plan and still be of good cheer? It’s really quite plain: prepare to adjust.

For instance, when they repair your car, they tell you to come in later on to have it adjusted. We don’t question that–it makes sense. Driving down the road can shake things up, make things different and loosen up parts. We gladly comply. Yet when we make repairs on our lives, we think they should be air-tight and never need a good screw-down. Ridiculous.

Good cheer is the willingness to watch out for signs that tell us we need to adjust, and then to go ahead and do it without feeling loss or frustration over the revision. That is what keeps us from fear.

Fear is what comes into our lives when we lose love. What is love? Love is a committed affection. So fear enters our thoughts when we lose our commitment. And what should we be committed to do? Pursuing our plan and preparing to adjust. It’s not merely pursuing our plan. We must be willing to commit to the evolution that is inevitable in all things earth-bound.

And then we have to maintain the affection. You see, there are people who make corrections to their previous plans, but they do it in such a nasty, angry way that they abandon the joy and fun in the process. Is there anything uglier than feeling compelled to do good? Affection for life is what gives us passion for each other, ending up with yearning to have a closeness with God.

When we lose our commitment, the fear of what is going to happen next overwhelms us. When we walk away from our affection, the fear that we’ve placed our faith in the wrong project taunts us.

Ssince failure and fear are as common as sneezing, and we intelligently follow the action of sneezing with, “God bless you,” we should follow all failure with good cheer and all hints of fear with love–a committed affection.

In conclusion, I will tell you that in touring on the road, my plans are dashed dialy without apology or the courtesy of a phone call. I am often frightened by the mortality of aging and the limitations of my skill and finance.

What I do is maintain my sense of good cheer by fully being aware that God has nothing to gain by making me look like a fool. I overcome my fear by recommiting to quality ideas that are evolving and finding new reasons to give a big hug to why I do what I do in the first place.

Failure and fear are much like sneezing. They help us expel foreign objects from our being that intend us no good. If you can learn to at least understand them, if not enjoy them, you gain the control of your next move and brighten the countenance of your future.

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

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