By Chris Roberts
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
By Mike Billings
By Rachel Swan
By Erin Sherbert
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
"Girls yell. Guys scream," Stine astutely points out to big, manly laughs, then hilariously relays how men, unlike women, love plasma-screen TVs.
"It's funny because it's true," I share with the Promise Keeper volunteer next to me, who agrees.
"God made man first so he can practice!" (So true!)
More large, manly laughs.
"Guys love women," the Christian comic declares, suddenly getting serious. "That's what makes you a man!"
No laughs this time, just a big round of affirming applause, mixed with hoots and hollers.
Then, strangely, the comedian segues into a bitter rant about being a Christian comic trying to make it in the heathen world of mainstream stand-up.
"I wanted to show that clean was cutting edge," he spews. "There's so much Christian bigotry in the country. It's the only religion that would have me!"
Ten thousand big, manly laughs once again, as the Prayer Team Leader once again rubs my shoulder, which starts to creep me out.
"Seventeen years in the business. I wanted a TV show. I wanted a recording contract. I wanted to do movies. I was doing the thing I was good at, which is stand-up comedy, and I was not at peace," he says as the arena crowd grows silent. "I gave up my Hollywood dream to play for Christians." Why? "I wanted Christians to have the best there is!"
So is he saying if the Hollywood thing would have worked out, Jesus, obviously, might have taken a big back seat to hosting Family Feud?
With building passion, he ignites, "In these three years, I've had more mainstream media, major recording deals, a large agency sign me ...."
Jesus, it's implied, is a much better agent than William Morris.
"God said, 'The reason I want you to put your dream out of the way is because it's too small!'"
"Wooo! Wooo!" shouts the crowd of men.
"USA! USA!" I shout, erupting into a rapid high-five-ing machine. "USA!"
Sure, he just got 10,000 men to applaud, but boy, this Christian comedian sucks. It's all hackneyed jokes, bitterness, and boasting mixed with a serious part about religion in the end.
As two paramedic women, totally uninterested, loudly converse, a man in an "Iron Sharpens Iron" T-shirt barks, "Can you ask them to be quiet," almost venting his distaste for the gentler sex.
The large men in the stands continue to wolf down greasy concession stand food as two motorcycle gang members, scarred, covered with tattoos, wearing "Messengers Jesus Reigns" jackets, make their way through the crowd.
"Has anyone needed the Prayer Booth yet?" I ask the Prayer Team Leader.
"It's been kind of slow," he replies, then squeezes my shoulder.
Then comes a weird meld of religion and patriotism with a segment called "The Epic Battle for a Man's Soul."
"I'm not over the hill, I am the hill," says a roly-poly man resembling comedian Louie Anderson in a video clip, pointing to his stomach. He's a Vietnam vet who's had half his face blown off in combat. It doesn't get more manly than a Nam vet who's fallen on a grenade.
A request is made for all the other Vietnam vets to stand up along with those who served in Iraq, harvesting a huge, loud standing ovation. I didn't realize that Jesus was pro-war.
"Jesus and USA! Jesus and USA!" I chant.
The vet's shtick starts out funny, then segues into graphically describing what it's like to fall on an enemy grenade. And then: "I might make some statements some of you might not like," he says in regard to the 9/11 attacks and the Muslim religion. He then explains that he has the right to make these upcoming statements because he had half his face blown off in Vietnam. I assume the statements are going to be slightly racist. Ten thousand men grow silent.
"They don't have the same God as us. Their God says, 'Give me your son.' Our God says, 'Here is my son!'" he shouts.
A thunder of all-American screams and hollers echoes throughout, in a let's-kick-their-ass fashion. Rightfully so. I say screw those towel-headed bastards, because their actions are obviously due to a blatant lack of Christ (and not because of U.S. imperialistic foreign policies). Sure, good Christian George W. Bush said God told him to invade Iraq, then lied about the reason we went to war, but it's OK as long as it's for the betterment of spreading democracy and Christianity. Hell, it worked during the Spanish Inquisition.
I chant: "Jesus and USA! Jesus and USA!"
"Are you ready for Jesus? Let's get it on," the war vet screams in a WWE are-you-ready-to-rumble fashion. Like Gen. Patton leading the Third Army into the Battle of the Bulge. "Father, I've come home!" he hollers.
Inspirational music builds. Men, and then groups of men, come down the hockey arena aisles, arms around each other. It's the altar call.