Humor, especially in the pulpit, can be tricky, but often worth the risk in order to connect with your congregation. You can buy books that have all the variations of humor, but there are three broad categories that make something funny.
1. It’s just plain true. Someone has defined humor this way: “Humor is a gentle way to acknowledge human frailty.” That’s the way we ought to use it. That’s when humor is done properly. It can also be a way to try and destroy people, but then it ceases to be humor.
Show me people who take themselves too seriously and I’ll show you people who don’t have a sense of humor — every single time — because they’re trying to perpetuate the perception of perfection. Nothing destroys families, corporate teamwork, or creativity more than trying to pretend you are perfect. You will never take risks, ever. You might fail. We are not perfect.
My sweet wife … she wakes me in the middle of the night. “Listen!” (How many of you are married? Does this sound familiar?) “Listen.” Now, I’m in a sound sleep. You could light a match on me. I said, “ What?”
She said, “Shhh, shhh. There it is again.”
Now my body is not touching the bed any more. Only the hairs on my body are touching the bed. I’m waiting for the axe to fall, for a bullet to come. I know someone’s going to kill us right now. She says, “It’s in the garage. Oh, no, what if he’s escaped? What if he has a chain saw?” Then she grabs me and says, “Go see.”
If there’s a guy in my garage who has escaped from somewhere with a chainsaw, I am not going to confront him in a pair of Fruit of the Looms, although my wife said, “I’ve seen your shorts. It will probably scare him away.”
How many of you have heard Bill Cosby tell a joke? He’s the wealthiest entertainer on the face of the earth, but I’ve never heard him tell a joke. He talks about truth. To My Brother Russell, with Whom I Slept is one of the most hilarious albums ever produced. It is about two little kids sharing a bed, drawing a line, and saying, “You stay over there.” This is the least risky kind of humor.
I come in the house. My 4-year-old daughter has a fishing line tied around her tooth and the other end tied to a doorknob. She’s violently trying to slam the door. Her little head is jerking, spit is flying out. I’m horrified and ask, “What are you doing?”
She said, “I’m pulling my toof.”