As part of my sabbatical, I attended a school for comedians in New York City. The only things I knew were that my first class was on a Tuesday at noon and that I would perform at a comedy club, five days later, on Saturday night.
The first class was great. I took pages of notes. The two hours flew by. At the end of class the teacher said we were to report back in four hours with an eight-minute routine that would be performed in front of students in the various classes and programs at the Institute. Nothing like easing into things.
I can prepare a twenty-five minute sermon in four hours. But this new task seemed daunting. I organized what I thought was my best stuff. I had about four minutes worth. I wrote some new stuff.
The comedian gets instant feedback and my feedback was mixed: some thought I was decent and others weren’t as impressed. I heard a few of my jokes were corny. Others just weren’t that funny. I talked too fast. They could tell I was nervous. I did get a little positive feedback. One of the comedians said some of my church stuff was gold. Another said I had potential. But, I left feeling overwhelmed and underequipped.
I got up the next morning, Wednesday, and worked on new material. Went to class early and stayed late running ideas by a few of my classmates and people in the office. I worked with a coach. I tried it again Wednesday night. The people who saw both nights let me know I shouldn’t quit my day job anytime soon, but I improved.
I worked again all day Thursday. Writing, sharing with others, listening to feedback, and practicing in front of a group one more time. It felt natural. I had fun. The comedians laughed. The coach thought it was great. The comedians offered suggestions how to make the material better and encouraged me to work on my delivery.
I practiced all afternoon on Saturday memorizing my script and getting ready for the Saturday night show. I took an Uber from the hotel to the Gotham Comedy Club. I did the sound check. The people filled the club. I performed. It went great.
New York City was cool. We saw a few Broadway shows, went to the top of the Empire State Building, saw the 9/11 Memorial, walked through Times Square, and spent a couple days exploring Central Park. But the thing I will remember most are the people who cared about me and made me better.
And so it is with the church and life. Others make us better. Life’s troubles can be divided and joy can be multiplied. WE have so many opportunities to connect at The Water’s Edge and this is the best time of year to take the plunge: Alpha, Financial Peace, small groups, volunteering. I’m looking forward to growing with you!