I’m not sure how many were able to hear Ricky Gervais’ opening monologue on the Golden Globes this year but (big breath) whew. Definitely not for the faint of heart. And even if there were elements of truth laced in there with the “comedy”, most would say it was harsh. He offered the following disclaimer to his audience before he started:
“Let’s have a laugh at your expense, shall we? Remember, they’re just jokes…”
I really enjoy listening to stand-up comics for several reasons. I’ll just mention a couple. First off, I love to laugh. I can literally feel the stress fall off when I do. Second, I think the craft may be one of the hardest, most courageous forms of art available to practice. Instant feedback. And I’ve heard many say it’s become increasingly more difficult in our present culture because of our tendency to be hypersensitive and easily-offended. I’ve also heard many use the same justification Ricky used as a premise to his monologue in order to “cleanse the palate” for their particular brand of comedy.
I was reading through the many articles written in reaction to his comments and a thought popped into my head.
Why is making a joke at a person’s expense in everyday life often called bullying and from stage “it’s just a joke”?
It’s worth thinking about and I’ve thought about it before in an effort to keep myself in check. I’ve spent a lot of time on stage and I think when any person does a lot of something, they tend to more easily notice it in others. It’s kind of like the “when I buy a new car and now everyone else is driving the same car” scenario.
I led worship in a small venue one time with a friend and afterward, another friend came up to me and said (paraphrased), “I can’t believe how good y’all sound with just a guitar.” Without thinking (and I hoped it didn’t come off wrong) I said, “Well, thank you but – I hope so! All a microphone does is take whatever you’re doing and make it louder!” I think that’s true of any platform and it’s been something for me to remember. If it can’t be said in person, then it shouldn’t be projected to a larger audience.
A lesson that’s been on repeat in my heart and head for a while now is being faithful in the little things. The Parable of the Five Talents is a great, Biblical example. I remind myself over and over again to represent Christ by doing the best with what I currently have as my spiritual act of worship. That way, if I’m ever elevated to a bigger platform, I’ll just transfer what I’ve already been doing to my new assignment.
Now, I understand Ricky Gervais has a very different worldview than me. He actually alluded to that in his monologue as well. The Golden Globes scenario served only to provide a springboard for a larger point I’ve been chewing on for a while. I also understand every brand of comedy isn’t about disparaging a person. SIDE NOTE: Actually, the best comedy (to me) points out the humor in the everyday aspects of life without referencing a particular person.
I’m personally aiming for consistency of character. I want it for me because I find it attractive in others and it almost immediately commands my respect. I want the person I am on stage to be an amplified version of the person I am off.