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FIRST-PERSON: ‘Thou Shalt Laugh’ is a promise

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–In an era when laughs are so often mined from anatomical and scatological riffs, here comes a refreshing and, I’m glad to add, funny alternative. “Thou Shalt Laugh” is a new DVD featuring humorous observations by several stand-up comedians who share more than just the ability to tickle the funny bone –- these guys (and gal) are also Christians.

Produced by Hunt Lowry (“A Walk To Remember,” “First Knight”) and Jonathan Bock (CEO of Grace Hill Media), and taped at the Faith Community Church in Southern California, those featured on the DVD release are gifted with whimsical observations and the knack of making us laugh while also making us think.

Thor Ramsey is first up, being introduced by the evening’s hostess, Patricia Heaton of “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame. Thor pokes fun at the stereotypes people have about Christians and has fun with our pop culture. Like his comrades in comedy, he constantly catches audiences off guard with humor found in everyday experiences. Devout in his Christian walk, the young comedian confesses, “I am blessed, being blessed, and blessed to be a blessing as I grow daily in my walk with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Jeff Allen is next up. Jeff has been doing comedy for over 20 years, and his work has been seen on nearly every cable comedy show in the U.S., including Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend” and VH-1’s “Standup Spotlight.” A one-time victim of alcohol and drug abuse, he turned to Alcoholics Anonymous, and, through generous help from a total stranger, found comfort in God. “The single greatest gift I get from my relationship with Jesus is peace. For the first time in my life, I am at peace in my own skin. From that peace, I am able to do what I love to do -– make people laugh,” Allen says.

The edgy, likable Teresa Roberts Logan is the one woman on the lineup. “I never think of myself as a ‘Christian comedian,’ any more than an accountant would call herself a ‘Christian accountant,'” she said. “A Christian is what I am. I’m a comedian who’s a Christian. And I’m thankful for the opportunity, wherever He takes me, to bring messages, and to make people laugh. Sometimes, even when I mean to.”

Joby Saad is known for his Jerry Lewis-like facial expressions and rubbery physicality. Joby combines dance, music, zinging one-liners and mime. Many have compared his style with the slapstick of Jim Carrey and the absurdist wit of Steve Martin. And because of his clean style, Joby appeals to audiences of all ages.

Gilbert Esquivel shares anecdotes from growing up and traveling across the United States. He also has a keen sensibility for comedy found in cultural differences, all the while recognizing that “yes, there are differences, but in God’s eyes we are equally loved.”

“As a gang member of 16 years old, I went to church just to hang out with a girl I liked and ended up accepting Christ,” Esquivel says.

Taylor Mason closes the 90-minute show. His use of puppets and ventriloquism reaches audiences of all ages. His awards range from winning the $100,000 Star Search grand prize in 1991, to an Emmy for his TV pilot “Bananas.” He has headlined every major comedy club in the country, is regularly featured on The Disney Cruise Line, and has created the children’s television show, Taylor’s Attic.

Reminiscent of the Blue Comedy Specials, but without the blue, “Thou Shalt Laugh” is insightful, edifying –- and very, very funny.
“Thou Shalt Laugh” is scheduled to be released Nov. 7 and will be available at www.lifewaystores.com.
Phil Boatwright is the editor and film reviewer for previewonline.org.

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  • Phil Boatwright