The Humor Survey: Chad Gibbs

I thought it would be fun to get some insight into the heads of some of my favorite funny people. When operating on their brains was ruled out as a viable option (what can i say? tough economy.), I decided to subject them to a series of questions about humor, faith, and swordfights. The result is The Ramblings and Such Humor Survey.

I’ve known Chad Gibbs for approximately 145 weeks. We first met at a Donald Miller talk in Birmingham, Alabama and have since become good friends. Together we’ve toiled at writing, critiqued each others work, and made each other laugh in hopes of one day becoming published authors.

Well…son of a gun did it. Next year Chad’s first book, a yet untitled memoir, will be releasing from Zondervan. And not to be content with his 1-0 lead on me, Chad is already at work on his second book, Other Gods Before Me, about faith and fanaticism in the SEC.

Here’s Chad…

1. What were a few of the things you remember laughing at the most as a kid?

CG: In the summer my folks let me stay up later and I would always watch Johnny Carson.  Not really sure if I even got the jokes, but I remember thinking he was funny.  I also thought the Muppet Babies were funny, and Pee Wee Herman, so I had a wide range of tastes.  Loved Cheers growing up, and Growing Pains reruns.

2. What about now as an adult? What specific things do you find funny these days?

CG: I love to read Dave Barry, Bill Bryson, Nick Hornby, and Christopher Moore among others.  On TV The Office and 30 Rock.  30 Rock probably makes me laugh harder, but I think I’m more emotionally invested with the characters on The Office.  Arrested Development was incredible.  I honestly don’t see many movies.  I still love Monty Python’s Holy Grail though.

3. Conversely, is there something that lots of other people find humorous that never really makes you laugh?

CG: Scrubs and The Family Guy.  They are both funny, but I’ve never been able to watch more than 10 minutes of them at a time.  To me they are like a very rich dessert, and if I eat the whole thing I’m sick.

4. Do you think Christians are afraid of humor?

CG: Yes and no.  I think most pastors love to tell a joke or two, often early in their sermons.  I think it helps them capture their audience.  But they rarely push boundaries with those jokes, and were you to hear them outside of the church setting, you probably wouldn’t crack a smile.  There is a fine line between what one person finds funny and another person finds terribly offensive.  With Christians that line seems finer, and it’s not a risk most pastors, publishers, etc. are willing to take.

5. How do you think humor can be useful to Christianity?

CG: Humor can lower your defenses.  Especially if someone is being honest with you.  We sometimes laugh because we are surprised at what is being said, but often times we laugh because we can relate so well to what is being said.  I think it can help people open up about their problems, while being confronted in another way may cause them to close up.

6. In your opinion, how is humor different from sarcasm/cynicism?

CG: I think the difference is the venom that sarcasm and cynicism often come with.  I’ve tried to be very careful with sarcasm, often covering it with self-deprecation, which makes it easier for others to swallow.    You can get a point across with humor without hurting feelings, but sometimes toes must be stepped on just a little.

7. At what point in life did you really start to embrace the idea: “wow, i think I might be funny.”?

CG: I’ve always tried to make people laugh, but I’m a bit of an introvert, especially around folks I don’t know.  I would much rather give a speech to 100 strangers than spend an hour mingling with those same people.  I tend to gravitate towards a corner and stay there.  Writing is a great outlet, but you don’t get the instant feedback of saying something and having someone laugh.

8. Why do you want to be funny?

CG: It’s just the way my mind is wired.  I see humor in almost every situation, even when I don’t want to, and when it isn’t entirely appropriate, but I cannot help myself.

9. Have you ever tried to do stand-up? Do you think it’s something you could do or would want to do?

CG: No and No.  I like to give talks, but I don’t want people thinking I am there to make them laugh.  That’s a lot of pressure.  I’d rather them think I’m there to give a talk about whatever, and when it turns out to be funny they can leave entertained.

10. Do you have a favorite quote (or joke or story) about comedy, humor, and making people laugh?

CG: “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog.  Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.”  – E.B. White (sorry, couldn’t resist)

Thanks for playing along, Chad! We all promise to buy 3 copies of your book next year so you become famous and are forced to mingle with strangers for a living.