Friday, November 8, 2013

New Stand Up Video

                        Basically, clean rap is a bunch of angry men talking about their mothers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prison Comedy, Take 1

            God redeems every situation, no matter how uncomfortable.         

            This morning I did stand up in front of a bunch of naked guys in a prison.

            You probably need more of the story.  

            Earlier this week I was in Nashville for a Christian comedy conference. This morning, before 
returning home, a bunch of comedians, including myself, joined up with an organization to go do comedy and ministry for the inmates at a local prison.

            After arriving at the prison and going through the intense security (which was still not as bad as TSA), we sat through a briefing of things to do and not to do. We received a packet of papers and verses, and each got a pen to write down things related to the ministry materials. We weren’t under any circumstances allowed to let inmates keep these pens, because they can be used as weapons. 

            As my team began to go to our wing of the prison, the coordinator said to our leader, “you’re taking them to the guys in B.”

            A pit formed in my stomach. I realized I was going to be in front of the male inmates.

            I’d assumed up to that point that I’d be put in a group performing for female inmates. But you know what they say about people who assume:

            They end up having naked convicts in their audience.  

            We performed in the common area of a cellblock. Tables were set up around the large room, there were showers to the right and left with inmates showering, (they were blocked with hip-high barriers, but still…), and clear floor-to-ceiling glass partitions revealing the barracks, where men were sleeping, hanging out, and getting dressed.

            Uncomfortable doesn’t begin to describe what I felt.  

            “Lord,” I prayed. “I don’t know when you plan on returning, but now is a really good time for me!”

            The team leader introduced me and I took the mic. I wasn’t even thinking about comedy. I was thinking about where I should look.

            I didn’t want to look at the showers, so I looked straight back. Nope. People changing. I focused instead on a few of the inmates sitting at the front tables who actually looked like they wanted to laugh at comedy. I appreciated these guys.
            I did a really short set and I don’t remember most of it. They laughed some. I think.  

            After the second comedian finished we spread out to talk with the inmates. Being the only girl in the group I was going to try and sit with one of the men teammates, but as I tried to non-awkwardly find a place, I saw an inmate waving me over to a seat.

            “Com’ere homeschool! I got questions for you!” he said.

            I prayed quickly for boldness. And I checked to make sure my pen was secure.

            Two other guys sat down at the table with us. One wouldn’t make eye contact with me and the other was an older man who looked kind. I felt oddly comfortable at the table. I looked around the rest of the room and a man with hair like the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs gave me a creepy smile and once-over.

            I decided to stay focused on my table.

            We introduced ourselves and I asked them a little bit about their families, how long they’d been in prison, and other details about their lives.

           After we finished our introductions, the inmate that had waved me over, who I’m going to call Jay, got to business.

            “I got questions, and I think you’ll know the answers,” Jay said.

            “Fire away,” I said. Probably a poor choice of words, but whatever.

            He proceeded to ask me a series of questions about apologetics. He wanted to know how he could tell his inmate friend that Christianity is true. He wanted to know if men are born wicked, or if society corrupts them.

            There was no degrading tone, no hint of wanting to give me a hard time for being a girl in his territory. This was a man who wanted answers.

            Those who know me know there are two subjects I will always want to talk about: comedy and apologetics. If you manage to combine the two into one conversation my head explodes.

            Jay and I began a deep discussion about grace, apologetics, Jesus as the ultimate truth, and how we know the gospel is true. As we spoke, the inmates to my right and left came alive. The man to the left still wouldn’t speak, but he smiled slightly. The man to my right engaged in the conversation. We went through and discussed the verses on the sheet the ministry gave me. The man to my right mentioned wanting to make things right with his family.

            At the end of the conversation, Jay looked up at me and said, “I been praying for answers, and I knew the minute you walked in, Homeschool, that you’d be the one to give them to me!”

            My heart about broke. There, in the midst of feeling helpless and scared, God used me. I had the answers Jay needed because I’d had his same questions as a sheltered homeschool girl ten years prior. I prayed with them. I prayed that God would redeem these years and give them a passion to see His kingdom spread.

            After getting their names and ID numbers (my silent friend even spoke up to give me his!) so the prison chaplain could follow up, I got up to rejoin our team.

             Right before we left another inmate came up to and asked how you walk the Christian walk when everyone around are hypocrites.

            “Like today,” he said. “My boys say they trying to do right by women. But then you come in here and they immediately start talking about how they gone mess you up. And they make me start thinking that way.”

            I was slightly startled by his bluntness, but he said it so honestly and sincerely that I didn’t feel like it was a threat or a put-down. We talked a little about James 1:23, where it differentiates between hearers and doers of the word.

            Then it was time to go. And I'm not going to lie. I was ready to get out.  

            I walked down the hall trying to process everything. I’m still processing. God used me in an incredibly uncomfortable situation. But He was there. I had answers and spoke with a courage I didn’t know I had.

            And despite overwhelming odds, I successfully managed to not see too much of the male anatomy.
            I never felt like I was going to be harmed or be held at pen-point. A few times I felt like a piece of raw meat in a lions den, but hey, that also happens when you ride public transportation or go up at certain comedy rooms.

            As I contemplated the day, I thought about all the crazy opportunities stand up has afforded me. When I started stand up I decided to never NOT do anything out of fear. I can’t help feeling it sometimes, but I try not to let it dictate my actions. Today was another testament to God working fear out of my life.

I’ve been up since 3:15am, it’s been a long day of travel and trying not to see things I don’t want to see.

            I will be praying for Jay. I think when I get to heaven I’m going to find out that he went on to do great things for the Kingdom of God.

             And if you’re from CCA reading this, thank you for a wonderful three days! I treasure and value the encouragement, friendships, advice, and critiques I’ve received from each of you. 


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Comedy and the art of Fear Maintenance

Someone after my show today told me they love comedy, but weren't brave enough to try it.

"Neither am I," I thought.

I have a myriad of fears related to comedy and writing. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • That I don’t have enough talent.
  • That I won't be universally loved. 
  • That I'll be "funny for a girl."
  • That the pay off won’t be worth the time and effort I put in.
  • That the constant travel will make me lonely and detached and social media (which I'm failing at, see my last blog) will become my main outlet to meaningful relationships.
  • That people will steal my material.
  • That I’ll accidentally think of things other people are already doing and it’ll look like I’m the one stealing material.  
  • That the frequency of flying will increase my chances of dying in a plane crash. (Although I hear in the case of most plane crashes the cabin depressurizes and you just fall asleep. In that case, I'd actually achieve two of my life goals: sky diving and dying in my sleep.)
  • That I won't be able to think of a perfect punchline. 
  • That I'll think of the perfect punchline at 3am, convince myself I'll remember it in the morning, go back to sleep, and then wake up having forgotten it.
  • That I'll bomb when the guy I like is in the audience.
  • That I'll bomb when anyone I know is in the audience.
  • That I'll fail entirely. Whatever that even means.  
I've heard people give huge spiels about how they got over their fears and live free of any hesitation or trepidation. (Always remember that as Christians, all our struggles must be past tense. We're not allowed to have any current least not if we're reading our Bibles and having TWTL on a daily basis. Apparently.) So I must be doing something wrong if I'm still afraid and I'm doing the very thing I'm afraid of. Wait, does that even make sense?

I continue doing comedy, not because I'm terribly gifted, but because I love it. I love it even when I'm not the one doing it. I love watching comedy, reading comedy, reading about comedy (yes, those are two different things), talking about the philosophy behind comedy, and being around funny people. Writing and performing comedy seemed the logical next step in my obsession with laughter. I'm privileged to get to do it on any level, and still can't believe some of the opportunities I've been given through my "out of control hobby."

Success looks different for everyone. (And yes, I'm aware that's probably what people say when they're failing.) I figure as long as I'm having fun and people are laughing, I must be succeeding. So, my fears and I will continue on with this incredibly random, sometimes sleep depriving journey. With that, I'm going to bed.

If you're reading this, it means I mustered up the courage to press the "Publish" button.

So, am I the only one who struggles with fear in what they're already doing? Bueller? Bueller?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm Flunking Social Media

I've been a little silent on blogs lately, mostly because I've been working on a book that's due at the end of this month. What's that you say? A book?! Yes, I think I can finally announce that I signed a publishing contract with Barbour Publishing. (It feels surreal to even type that.) Anyhow, because of the whole book-publishing process I've been evaluating my social media status, as authors are expected to maintain an "online presence."

The conclusion? I'm failing.

There are several reasons for this:

1. I am lazy. (It's okay to confess struggles online, right? People are pretty understanding and supportive when you put anonymity and free speech into their hands? Great.)
     Figuring out each site takes time. And it's time I'd prefer to spend rotting my brain on Hulu or playing outside with my ducks. (Oh, yeah. I had a momentary lapse in will power and got pet ducks. More on that another time.)

     I also know that if I did get on all these sites, I'd be hopelessly addicted and waste even more time. So in this case I feel like my tendencies toward laziness and addiction are canceling each other out. It's your classic case of two negatives equaling a positive. I think that's how that math concept worked...

2. I am technologically stupid.
     The only social media outlet I'm decent at navigating is Facebook (@Kristin.weber1) and I recently learned that it's no longer cool cause we're all switching to snappier sites that require even less of an attention span.

      I'm on Twitter (@Kristinweb), but we're not doing so great. I don't know how to add emojis, I just today figured out what a hashtag actually does, and I really want to know how I can get two pictures next to each other so I can participate in things like Transformation Tuesday. (Although mostly I think we're just making up excuses to post pictures of ourselves in ways that don't seem too narcissistic.)

 3. I don't have the hardware for it.
     iStill don't have an iPhone, which is part of the problem. Although I did recently upgrade from a flip-phone to a slide-out phone, so when people start getting cell chips implanted in their brains for communication, I'll probably be ready to try an iPhone 3 or something. A random stranger in the airport asked if I was trying to make a statement with my flip phone. The statement is simple: I can't afford it. I gotta keep my debt snowball moving. (Dave Ramsey reference, FTW!)
    I am making some progress. I got iPad recently and with it, Instagram. (@writerkristin, though just as a heads up I've mostly posted an obnoxious amount of pictures of my ducks.) I've really enjoyed seeing the endless stream of selfies, pictures of legs outstretched with a book, and gourmet dinners. Maybe someday someone will invite me over to share one of those meals, but until then, I get to live vicariously and look at their photo while eating a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich for the 15th night in a row.

    I'll make a great old person, but until then, I'll just have to accept that I'm a little behind the times.

How do you keep up with social media? Do you have any tips for me?

                Oh, and here's a picture of Frances the Duck. (Yes, his hair is natural.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Truth about Church Youth

                      In Christ alone my worth is found, all other ground is sinking sand. 

I just got back from my church's annual youth retreat, which means I'm spiritually energized, a little mentally and emotionally spent, and in desperate need of a nap and some green vegetables.

For the past two years I've led a homegroup through my church for a group of girls at a local high school. I started with these girls when they were juniors, and this year I get to watch them graduate and go off to college.

Recently I read a statistic that 70% of church-going youth will walk away from their faith during their first year of college. Some studies show that number as higher. That means, statistically speaking, only five of the approximately fifteen girls who come each week will still claim to be Christian by this time next year. That number breaks my heart, but it doesn't surprise me.

I've talked to students who've praised with their hands in the air, followed along in their Bibles, and even dropped a Facebook status here and there about how God is their "main man," but when asked if they know Jesus and are confident in their salvation, respond with a hesitant, "I'm not sure" or "I really just want to experience life before I make that decision." They know how to play the game, not grasping that winning this particular game means losing your soul.

In the effort to make Christianity "attractive" to teens, churches have left out the most alluring component: Jesus Christ Himself. We've told them things not to do, taught them how to make good choices, and failed to mention that apart from Christ, all of these things are like filthy rags.

I'm blessed to be at a church who realizes this, and is more interested in discipling students than entertaining them. I love my church for that.

"Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

I think we underestimate youth. They are capable of dealing with hard truths way more than we give them credit. For the past few years I've met weekly with one of my teens to simply read and study the Bible. While reading through Romans, we got stuck discussing the difficulty of Romans 9. Go read that chapter for yourself. It's a tough one. After reading and me attempting to explain, she looked me straight in the face and said, "knowing this makes me not want to believe."

In that moment, I wished we'd picked a different book. We kept reading, praying, and discussing. At the end of Romans (which brought up many more challenging and deep conversations) I asked her if she still believed. She did.

In fact, I've seen this young lady's faith grow and in turn, she is now discipling younger students. Over the past 18 months we've read at least half a dozen books of the Bible together, and our little group of two has grown and a few other girls join us before school one morning a week to read and discuss the Bible. Getting to witness these girl's growth has truly been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. They still voice doubts and questions, but they love the Lord and with each doubt addressed they grow in faith and knowledge.

"So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace." Romans 11:5

Teenagers come to Christ the same way adults do: through the movement of the Holy Spirit and knowing what Jesus did for them on the cross. Teens are saved in small town, no-frills baptist churches. Teens are saved through high-octane youth retreats. Teens are saved sitting next to random strangers on long airplane rides. Grace is the common denominator behind every conversion.

God doesn't need our laser shows, our trendy music, or hip youth group names. God can, and does, absolutely use those tools. But they are just that: Tools. I do not have the power to change anyone's heart. I can only speak the truth, love and disciple them as best I can, and pray (and sometimes beg) that God will be mighty to save.

And on that Hope, young and old, we stand. Because all other ground truly is sinking sand.