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.
If books were counted in dog years, Matthew Paul Turner would have written well over a hundred. The former editor of CCM Magazine, Matthew now writes humorous books and amusing blog posts for your reading enjoyment…and for money…but mostly for your reading enjoyment.
Matthew’s latest offering, Churched, received a +3 Cannarf rating from esteemed blogger Bryan Allain (no relation to me). His next book is rumored to hit shelves in February 2010.
1. What were a few of the things you remember laughing at the most as a kid?
MPT: I was raised conservative Baptist, so I wasn’t allowed to laugh unless Jesus laughed first. As best I could tell, Jesus really enjoyed watching “I Love Lucy” and “The Andy Griffith Show.” He also tolerated “The Facts of Life” as long as Mrs. G and the girls didn’t mention the facts of life.
2. What about now as an adult?
MPT: Here are a few proper nouns that I currently find mildly amusing: David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Family Guy, Christopher Moore, Neal Patrick Harris, Jon Stewart, How I Met Your Mother, and Kathy Griffin…
3. Conversely, is there something that lots of other people find humorous that never really makes you laugh?
MPT: Yes. Bob Saget.
4. Do you think Christians are afraid of humor?
MPT: I don’t think Christians are afraid of humor. All people love to laugh. I think some Christians are scared to laugh at certain topics like themselves or theology, which for some people is pretty much the same topic. Sex is another topic some Christians don’t find funny–I think it’s hilarious.
5. How do you think humor can be useful to Christianity?
MPT: When we laugh, it’s often because we relate. Using humor can make a difficult topic or truth less intrusive. Humor is also a great way for Christians to “look in the mirror” and see how we really are or appear to other people, Christians or non-Christians.
6. In your opinion, how is humor different from sarcasm/cynicism?
MPT: Sarcasm/cynicism is a just one of many “tools” people use to be funny. Sometimes it works and sometimes it flops. That’s usually because sarcasm and cynicism usually come out of a person’s pain. And if a person is TOO negative, sometimes people can’t see the funny.
7. At what point in life did you really start to embrace the idea: “wow, i think I might be funny.”?
MPT: I suppose I became cocky enough to think “I’m funny” when I wrote my first book. The reason I wanted to make people laugh with my writing is because funny books were the only ones I read. Certainly I’m not always funny. In fact, in person I’m sort of boring most of the time. And I don’t truly know if what I’m writing is humorous until somebody else tells me it is.
8. Why do you want to be funny?
MPT: Because people love laughing, and it’s easier to receive truth when your ass is laughing off.
9. Have you ever tried to do stand-up? Do you think it’s something you could do or would want to do?
MPT: NO. Never. At events, I read and tell stories, and oftentimes people laugh… but stand-up is a completely different type of humor… and just like many comedians can’t write that humor in a book… I don’t think I would be able to turn my stories into a stand-up routine…
10. Do you have a favorite quote (or joke or story) about comedy, humor, and making people laugh?
MPT: Somebody once told me to avoid exclamation points when writing humor–putting an exclamation point at the end of a sentence is like laughing at your own joke. (And I still haven’t learned that lesson completely. I used exclamation points in punch lines yesterday.)
Thanks for playing along, Matthew!