INTERVIEW: Comedy, Confession, and School Assemblies

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I’m on a podcast.

I travel with North Texas Youth Alive as one of their speaker for school assemblies. A while ago I wrote about one of the most difficult assemblies I've had to do.

This week I was interviewed by Kyle Embry, the director for the ministry, on their Youth Alive podcast. It’s designed to be another resource for the churches they’re serving.

I talk about how I write my segments for the assemblies, confession, and how to be there for students who are opening up about what they’re going through.

I haven’t listened back to this thing yet. I might sound like a total idiot. Who knows!

What Questlove Taught Me: "Is This Allowed?"

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There’s an episode of the A Piece of Work podcast all about emojis and whether they should be considered art or not. In one segment the host is interviewing Questlove, drummer for  The Roots and guy in the picture above this paragraph). He brings up this idea I absolutely love. He’s talking about music and says:

"…any album that’s ever come out and I had to ask “is this allowed?” Then it’s pretty much high art."

Now, I don’t know anything about art and I’d feel like a complete idiot if I started calling anything at all HIGH ART but I love the concept.

Think of ANYTHING groundbreaking, unique, revolutionary, or influential in our culture. There was a moment with all of them when people first encountered it and had to ask "are they allowed to do this?"

We get to so used to how things are already being done. How everything should look, sound, and feel.

Subconsciously trends turn into rules and we feel like we’re not allowed to break them.

I want to be more aware of this. When I’m brainstorming, when I’m working on something new, if I ever have an idea that makes me nervous and causes me to ask “is that allowed” I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Throwing Away Everything & Starting Over

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For the last year and a half I’ve been touring with a stand-up show called Tell a Good Story. It’s a set show with its own jokes and a message about the power of telling your story.

BUT NOW IS THE TIME TO DESTROY IT ALL!!!

In January I’m throwing away all of Tell a Good Story and starting a new tour. It’ll have all new material. It’ll have a new theme and message. I’ve been slowly working out the material little by little over the last few months. I’ve snuck new jokes into shows since the summer. But there’s still a lot of work to do.

Writing new material is really scary for me. I have this fear that I’m going to forget how to be funny. I made this video last year about how frustrating it is for me to write new jokes.

I think one of the videos I’m most proud of is this one where I tell the story of the first time I ever got paid to do stand-up. The music I used in the video is all over the place and kinda distracting but I think it’s a really funny story. At the beginning I talk abut the process on becoming a better comedian. You basically have to fail a lot and embarrass yourself in public over and over until you’re good. Hooray!

I've only got a few more performances of Tell a Good Story this year. Then it's on to the new stuff. I'm really excited.

If you're interested in bringing my new show to your church next year, check out THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO USE COMEDY AS AN OUTREACH.

A PIECE OF WORK: an honest podcast about art

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Last week while desperately hunting for a new podcast I found this 10 episode mini series called A PIECE OF WORK. The podcast’s website describes it as “everything you want to know about modern art but were afraid to ask.”

It’s hosted by Abbi Jacobson, co-creator of Comedy Central’s Broad City, and each episode she learns about a different style of modern art. Have you ever been to a museum and seen paintings that are just random paint splatters or a simple triangle painted on a wall and thought “Why?! What is this supposed to be?!” This podcast answers that question in the most entertaining way.

The thing I love about the show is how honest it is. The host often brings her friends (including Hannibal Burress, Tavi Gevinson, Questlove, RuPaul) to the museum of modern art and introduces art pieces to get their opinion. I love this part because the guests don’t feel like they have to lie, pretend, or sound smart. They’re just honest. If they think it's dumb, they’ll say. If they like it but they’re not sure why, they’ll say it. No consideration given to how "uneducated" they may sound.

Museums can feel like such daunting places because you might feel like you’re not allowed to be yourself. You feel this pressure to go from art piece to art piece, stare in silence, make a face like you’re REALLY getting something deep from it, then nod your head and move on. Like an intellectual or a fancy boy.

Whenever a museum curator is interviewed for A PIECE OF WORK they never shy away from the fact that they were well aware of what most people think of modern art. They know we often think it's total crap. They're not afraid to quote the biggest criticism all modern art receives: “What is this junk?! I could have made that.” But what's cool is they're willing to start there because they're confident in their ability to get us to a place where we understand and appreciate the art.

I think the honesty makes this podcast so accessible. The show doesn’t shame you for not “getting it.” It’s ok with you admitting you don’t like modern art. I think that approach made me lean in. That made me want to be more open to learn, and be a part of this conversation.

Honesty has that effect.

Listen to all 10 episodes: https://t.co/aguRGFGjS7

Inviting People to Church

Christians have a lot of weird ideas for how to get people in to their church. I think I’ve come up with a great test to help figure out if your method of inviting people is weird or not. 

I think a really easy way to invite someone would be to say to friends you’re hanging out with “Hey, you want to come to this free comedy show?”

That doesn’t seem too strange at all.

Churches should think about hosting comedy shows. HINT HINT HINT.

Here’s the most effective way to use comedy as an outreach.

One Rough School Assembly

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I do school assemblies with a ministry called Youth Alive. Two weeks ago we were in Oklahoma setting up for an assembly in a jr high when the principal came over and asked about my segment. We have a few different speakers who present throughout the assembly and that day I was going to talk about bullying and suicide. He tells me that the school had an attempted suicide earlier in the week and to be sensitive of that.

I have never had that happen before. That was a hard one to get through. I usually have no idea any sort of back story behind the group I’m speaking to. It’s not until after the show that I hear stories of people dealing with the stuff I talk about. But this time I was on stage making eye contact with student after student trying desperately to hold back tears. Each student I saw I thought “this segment is for them.” “This segment is for them.”

When I was at a youth ministry conference  last week I was talking to a pastor about why confession is so important to me and why I’m always focusing on it as I close out my stand-up shows. He brought up one of his favorite verses “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind (1 Cor. 10:13).”

How comforting to know you’re not the only one. You’re not alone. I get to say it in my stand-up. You have the chance to say it to your family, friends, small group, or even complete strangers in their moments of need. You’re not alone.

The Dumbest T-Shirt Idea | Pre-order Now

If you saw me perform at a camp this summer or you saw week one of my Why Not Stories, you might remember hearing about my experience getting to milk a cow and how I drank that stuff fresh from the cow. Or, as I like to put it, I drank milk “straight from the uttz.”

For some reason people thought was the funniest phrase in the world. At one camp the whole audience started chanting it at me like a crazed mob. People started commenting “straight from the uttz” on all my youtube videos. It was a weird summer.

Last week I was messing around in photoshop and designed a Straight from the Uttz t-shirt. I put it in my instagram story, asking “is this too dumb of a t-shirt?” And I got SO MANY responses from people telling me they wanted one. I gave into peer pressure and put the shirt for sale on my site.

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I think this shirt is so dumb but I can’t stop laughing at the thought of people actually wearing it in public.

It’s available for pre-order until this Saturday. You’ll get it 20% off.

Go to straightfromtheuttz.com

Or go to www.uttz.life

I bought both domains for this dumb thing.

Hurry up and pre-order it right now before you forget.

Every time I get notified about a new order I lose my mind.

Here's the video from Why Not Stories where I milked a cow

The Best Comedian on Snapchat

Gil Ozeri is one of the funniest people on the internet. He’s an improviser in LA and last year he started making the CRAZIEST videos for his snapchat story. Like, you will be surprised the amount of effort he put into some of the dumbest, silliest, and most bizarre 6 second videos.

Last month he released a BEST OF on youtube collecting his favorite snapchat story moments. Please watch it.

His big leg is probably my favorite. The part where Steven Spielberg is chasing him is also very funny.