Monday, August 09, 2004

Divine Chuckles o' Hate 

There's a pretty amazing article in the New Yorker this week about Christian standup comedian Brad Stine, who is riding the avant-garde of this cultural manifestation all the way to (possibly) the Republican National Convention and/or (he hopes) his own sitcom on mainstream television. Stine's first DVD, "Put a Helmet On!" was recorded before an audience at Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. The article's author, Adam Green, scrupulously provides several examples of Brad Stine's "Christian" "comedy":
Then it was showtime. Accompanied by pounding rock music, Stine ran out, grabbed the microphone, announced that he was feeling crazy, and launched into his routine. His style is frantic, aggressive, and caustic, with echoes of Robin Williams, Sam Kinison, and George Carlin, who is his comedy hero. His frequent use of the word “stinking” makes you realize how often he would say “fucking” if he didn’t work clean.

A lot of Stine’s material that night came from “Put a Helmet On!,” whose title refers to the weakening of the American character caused by such politically correct follies as mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists. Stine longs for the days when Christian values guided the nation and, as he jokes, the homeless were handed axes, pointed toward a grove of trees, and told, “There’s your duplex.” He aimed most of his barbs at liberals and unbelievers, but Christians took flak, too. He did an impression of a Protestant, whining, “Satan made me lose my job!” (“No—your incompetence made you lose your job!”), and made fun of churches that organize “Harry Potter” book burnings (“Here’s a good rule of thumb: If Hitler tried it—maybe go the other way”). A bit about Christians who need tabbed pages to find Genesis in the Bible led to some physical business about an ancient-days evangelist wrestling with a large scroll to keep it from snapping shut.

Stine tried out some new material. Like: “Jesus was an interesting cat, because he was God for thirty-three years, and he only told people about it for three. Don’t you think his friends had to suspect something?” And: “One of the great downsides of being a Christian is that my religion forbids me to hate people.” Beat. “Ohhhh, I want to hate people. That’s what’s so amazing about Christianity—it forces you to act against what your body wants to do. I want to hate! Not that anybody comes to mind right off the bat—France.” Most of this went over well, though a one-liner about Salvador Dali was greeted with puzzled silence.

Stine’s act is built around his rants, which often have the flavor of sermons. He rails against atheists, liberals, Darwinists, pro-choicers, animal-rights activists, moral relativists—pretty much anyone who doesn’t believe that the Bible is the literal truth—with a vitriol that seems to tap into his audience’s own resentments. “This country is changing,” he told the Estes Park crowd. “And there is, in fact, a civil war—of ideology. It’s real.” Stine said that in the future Christians could wind up being imprisoned just for expressing the ultimate tenet of their faith: Accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour or spend eternity in Hell. “Well, what are you saying—I should just believe in Jesus so I don’t go to Hell?” he asked, mockingly. Then he whispered, “Pretty much.” This got a huge laugh and a round of applause. “The message of Jesus never changes; the messenger does,” he said. “Sometimes he looks like me.”
Here is Stine performing at "the Praise Center, a hangar-size nondenominational church and television-production facility in th middle of an open field" in York, PA:
For thirty dollars a head, the crowd at the Praise Center got to eat chicken, watch promotional videos for “The Passion of the Christ” and Promise Keepers, and listen to Jerry Jacobs give a fund-raising pitch for his television ministry. By the time Stine took the stage, they were ready for a few laughs. “Relax,” he told them. “You’re going to Heaven—enjoy yourselves!” A new bit about Adam naming the animals in the Garden of Eden went over well. So did Stine’s pro-Bush sentiments. “I thank God we’ve got a Texan in the White House,” he said. “You’ll notice the terrorists didn’t attack Texas.”
Here is an example of how Brad Stine's religion "forbids [him] to hate people":
Gay marriage: “Guys want to marry other guys?” Beat. “Cowards!”
Like many paranoid schizophrenics, black people, and polygamists, Stine is being persecuted by a liberal culture hellbent on suppressing his natural genius:
In his set, Stine hit some familiar notes. “I’m a conservative, I’m a Christian, and I think the United States is the greatest country that has ever existed on the face of the earth!” he shouted, provoking one of four standing ovations. “And, because of those three belief systems, when I die, by law, I have to be stuffed and mounted and placed in the Smithsonian under the ‘Why He Didn’t Get a Sitcom’ display.”
By the end of this article, I assure you you'll be pissing yourself with laughter. Just pissing yourself all the way to heaven.


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