Dear Critic, It Was Just a Joke

John Crist

It’s ironic that a person whose career is making people laugh would spend so much time dealing with critics.  

Such is the case for John Crist, a Christian, homeschooled pastor’s kid who is also a popular comedian.

But maybe criticism is to be expected when your living comes from poking fun at predictable Christian music, toxic politics and the “hard life” of millennials.

In a recent interview with the Stream he said of millennials:

“Nearly every day, I get up at four in the morning, drag two boxes of merch and take a flight across the country to make a living. That’s how life works. But I used to have a friend who was on “missionary support.” This guy woke up at 10, got on Facebook for a couple hours and then went to coffee with someone. I’m like, Dude. Come on.”

Regarding homeschoolers, Crist joked, it’s the “goodest thing that ever happened to me.”

Those jokes got a lot of laughs—and a lot of criticism. Some have even questioned his salvation, but Crist says his jokes work because although they may be stereotypes, they also contain an element of truth.

“Truth is,” he told the Stream, “I am a Christian who loves Jesus. I think the local church is our only hope. That being said, we do some weird stuff. Sometimes people need to be offended. Like that millennial thing did offend people, perhaps those who are younger and working hard. But it’s a stereotype. It’s not about them particularly.”

“Now I make that joke, and I’m not mad! (laughing) A lot of times some people get upset or offended at a joke, but everyone else is dying laughing. If there’s no truth to it, it doesn’t land.”

But he worries about the vicious criticism of today, especially when there’s a political element to his jokes; and these days everything is political.

“When people don’t get the material for political reasons, I just have sympathy for them. We had someone write up this huge ‘exposé’ on one of my jokes. The team here and I are thinking: ‘Imagine that person’s home life. It doesn’t sound fun.’

“You post a joke about Chick-fil-A and someone’s like, ‘You hate gay people.’ They’re not actually mad at me. I’m not a huge President Trump supporter, but people are angry at him. Two years ago, everyone loved him. He was a TV star and people were like, ‘Yeah, I know who that guy is.’ Today, the anger is so vicious.

“The anger makes no sense. He now represents every boss that fired you, the dad that left you, a boyfriend that cheated on you. He is kind of every bad thing. I’m like, ‘Y’all don’t even know him.’”

And Crist doesn’t think Christians are immune to the anger; in fact it might be even more obvious in what they accept and reject and what they’ll allow him to make fun of.

“The problem with many creative endeavors by Christians is people say, ‘If it’s Christian, we have to love it.’ We have to go to the movie or support the band, even though they may be terrible. Inversely, when they decide it’s not Christian, they shut it out. I’d rather have folks decide for themselves, rather than spoon-feeding them.”

But Crist says he loves what he does in spite of the early flights and the criticism. “Laughter is good medicine. The joy of the Lord is our strength. The more sadness and depression people face, the more we need comedy… Sometimes we middle-class Christian people just need to loosen up.”

You can watch some of Crist’s video’s here.

John Crist Nails the Problem with ‘Church Hunters’ in Newest Spoof

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.

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