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A comedy lesson from a man of the cloth

This weekend, I re-learned something wonderful about comedy. I was at a wedding filled with groups of families from different parts of the US, whose next generations spread across the world but who all met to celebrate the pair making themselves into a couple.

I figured the ever-present religious divide might be a challenge. The gentleman conducting the wedding ceremony practices a religion that many attendees (including me) did not. I knew that the formal nature of the wedding ceremony would be beautiful (as they usually are), but assumed that certain ideas and philosophies would not pertain to me and others of different religions.

Sometimes being wrong is great!

Comedians choose to be inclusive or divisive, and there’s a strong call for both. Those who base their acts on personal, political, religious, sexual jokes of extreme nature don’t appeal to everyone because typical audiences may contain people who are targets of the divisive comedian’s jokes or who are uncomfortable with blunt commentary about sexual activity, politicians, and other hot button topics. But these comics can gain a following that can grow over time and have long, lucrative careers.

I’ve always preferred to be an inclusive comedian, but I can spot an “us vs. them” aspect to many of my jokes. It’s fair to say I never attempt to wound, but always playfully call out the antagonists in my material (like the company that sells candles with less-than-logical instructions).

But back to the wedding: The officiant was funny, serious, moving, and spoke powerfully of God—in a way that let each wedding guest ponder God in our own way. There were only a few moments that reflected specific religious beliefs. Love is uniting, there was no reason to point out any divide.

His wonderful inclusive approach was the perfect example of my lifelong “we’re all in this together” approach to humor. I was lucky and inspired to see it played out in a formal setting. Someday, I hope to be as skillful as this man of the cloth.