RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP)–Neither his face nor his name is well known. But John Pate — sometime pop artist, part-time comedian/actor/writer and full-time assistant professor of communications at California Baptist College — has rubbed elbows with many of Hollywood’s bigwigs since he first became a comedian 20 years ago.
“I realized that God would not have me in comedy to be a household name,” Pate said. Instead, Pate knows, his comedy act plays second fiddle to his true purpose — to be an influential Christian in a field where Christianity does not flourish.
Early on, Pate, who graduated from Cal Baptist in 1978, decided he wanted to make a splash in the pool of life and asked himself, “Where could I have the most impact as a Christian?” He flirted with the idea of politics or sports but settled on entertainment when he realized he was funny.
As a novice comedian, Pate decided his act would be clean.
“I want people to see someone go on stage who is just as amusing as everybody who is dirty, and show them they can have a good time and laugh for 30 to 45 minutes at a clean act,” Pate said.
“At the end of the act I feel like looking at the audience and saying, ‘Do you folks realize you just laughed at clean material?'”
Pate’s reputation within the entertainment business has spread, and at the same time he has used his influence to share his faith with many powerful entertainment figures.
“I’ve had heart-to-heart talks with Robin Williams, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Robert Townsend and Jay Leno,” Pate said. “Jay Leno and I would argue religion while driving across the country.
“It was just as easy to sit down and talk to Robin Williams as it was to talk with the busboy,” he said.
Another way Pate gives expression to his comic creativity is through a unique art form he developed and calls “StarTrax.” He asks celebrities to drive their cars over a piece of canvas, then gets them to autograph the resulting tire tracks which he decorates and frames.
Recently Pate displayed a collection of original art pieces at Cal Baptist’s art gallery.
Pate’s philosophy has always been that as long as God provides the opportunities to share his faith, he will not back down. “As long as God is opening doors I will walk through them,” Pate said.
Toeset is a public relations intern at California Baptist College.