Objection 1: It would seem that there cannot be a virtue about comedy. For Ambrose says: "Our Lord said: 'Woe to you who laugh.'" Wherefore I consider that all, and not only excessive, comedy should be avoided. I answer that: Just as man needs bodily rest for the body's refreshment, since his power is finite, so too is it with his soul, whose power is also finite. And the soul's rest is pleasure. Consequently, the remedy for weariness of soul must needs consist in the application of some pleasure. Now such like words or deeds wherein nothing further is sought than the soul's delight, are called playful or humorous.
Happy recent feast of All Saints' and All Souls' dear listeners, and Happy all Hallow's Eve. And my apologies to any Thomas Aquinas scholars out there who noticed the very small liberties -- very, very small -- that I just took with the Summa Theologica.
What hath the saints to do with laughter? That is the question, in the nutshell, that I pose to my guest today, comedian Jen Fulwiler. Scripture and Christian tradition have much to say about joy, much to say about truth and truth-telling, and much to say about being human and growing into our full humanity before God. And all of these, I propose, are related to humor, laughter, and learning to tell our stories.
Jennifer Fulwiler is a standup comic, bestselling author, former Sirius XM talk show host, and mom of six. Her podcast, This Is Jen, now The Jen Fulweiler Show, debuted in the Comedy Top 10 on iTunes. She is the one-woman show of The Naughty Corner standup comedy special and author of Something Other Than God, One Beautiful Dream, and Your Blue Flame. And: she's on tour! Tickets are on sale at jfcomedytour.com. You can follow her on Instagram at @JenniferFulwiler.
We will talk today about standup comedy and the saints, about Jen's journey into Christianity, about holiness and laughter, and about the common grace that comedy reveals.
And yet humor must "befit the hour and the man" (thank you again St. Thomas) -- so we'll also talk about how truthfulness, maturity, and facing reality can actually make a comedian funnier.
Word to the wise, if you preach, if you pastor, I would listen to this conversation in that light too. What hath preaching to do with standup comedy? What might these art forms have in common?
Finally, I make passing mention in the podcast of something called "blue" comedy -- and that simply means comedy you would not listen to with your children in the car. Or with your parents for that matter.
(You can listen to today's episode with children and parents in the car.)
But now, since "it is against reason for a man to be burdensome to others by hindering their enjoyment" (God bless you, St. Thomas), we hope you enjoy the conversation.