Hecklers and Truth
Since the voices we listen to have so much power in our lives, comedian Michael Jr. gives us insight on how to deal with "the hecklers."
About the Guest
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Since the voices we listen to have so much power in our lives, comedian Michael Jr. gives us insight on how to deal with “the hecklers.”
Hecklers and Truth
Dave: Alright; I’ve got another question for you.
Ann: Oh, good.
Dave: The question is: “What is the toughest, hardest moment of our marriage?”
Ann: I would say our ten-year anniversary.
Dave: Is there any good that came out of it?
Ann: I mean, I feel like our lives totally changed direction; because the night, when I told you I had nothing left—I had no feelings for you/felt like our marriage was a .5 out of 10—I thought it was done; and yet, God/but God, in His grace, in His power, in His sovereignty, took us to a whole new place and has allowed us, in our brokenness, to share the truth of the gospel that Jesus can change everything.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: What’s the toughest, hardest moment of our marriage?
Ann: I would say our ten-year anniversary.
Dave: Yes; I knew you were going to answer exactly that because, in that dark moment, when we both thought it was over, God shows up—and not only saves our marriage—but then says, “I actually want to use that moment to help you discover your purpose is to help other marriages.” Here we are—
Ann: —to use our pain in the past.
Dave: —sitting right here.
We get to interview Michael Jr., who many people would know as a comedian; but if you have ever listen to him, or read his new book, Funny How Life Works, you discover he is more than just a funny guy. He has purpose behind humor. Michael Jr., welcome to FamilyLife Today. We’re so glad to have you.
Michael: Wow. Thanks so much for having me here, man.
Except, it is a little weird, being in the middle of your conversation just now on that—I told you I was going for it—I was like, “Wait a second. Is it over? What’s happening? [Laughter] Wait; don’t you know the end? You guys worked it out?” Wow; that is so—ten years, you were done: .5—wow!
Dave: Yes; and I thought we were a 9.5; I was so clueless.
Dave: Again, in that moment, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Yet, it’s the moment—just as you’ve shared in your book and in your comedy—that God uses the setbacks to set us up for our punchline. I mean, you’ve told that everywhere you go. You’ve even told that in our church—as we did Funny How Marriage Works: A Date Night for Couples—where you brought the funny, and we brought the marriage. It was just a beautiful, beautiful night.
I love what you do in your book; I love what you do in your life. It’s literally—I’ve never heard a comedian talk about how you talk about the punchline—that’s your whole—
Dave: —again, tell us what the punchline means, because it’s about pain in your purpose or pain being your purpose?
Michael: “…pain being your purpose,” so your purpose is to bring pain to people—wow; wow—[Laughter]—that’s a great name if you’re a wrestler; yes. [Laughter]
There is a lot of parallels in comedy and life. One—for example, I’ll give you a fresh one—in comedy, everyone has to deal with them; I’ve dealt with them before—you have a heckler. What is a heckler?
In fact, I was in Fort Wayne, Indiana, driving through Detroit, heading down to Fort Wayne to do a show one day. This was years and years ago, and I’m on stage. This is probably one of the worst heckle I’ve ever received. I’m on stage, doing my comedy; and I get heckled by this dude in the back of the room with more twang than I can explain [imitating the person]: “Michael Jr., I was wondering, ‘Why do all black people look alike?’” That’s what he said for real.
Michael: And the whole crowd freezes; it’s like a mostly white audience. They freeze; they don’t know what I’m going to do—get mad/throw a chair—they don’t know what’s going to happen.
He heckles me, and I don’t know what I’m going to say. This is all happening in fractions of a second. I mean, these thoughts are going through my mind: “What am I going to say?” “What am I going to do?” “How is this going to work out?” When I said these words, I didn’t even think them; when I said these words, I was hearing them for the first time. He was like: “Michael Jr., why do all black people look alike?” I was like, “We don’t all look alike. You just got to cut the eye holes in your sheet a lot bigger.”
Michael: Boom! Listen, the place exploded in laughter. The dude, who said it to me, stood up on his chair and gave me a standing ovation with the rest of the room. It was an amazing moment.
There were a few things that took place in that moment. Instead of addressing pain with pain—because clearly that dude was in some pain—I just showed up with my gift. Just like God has given us all gifts, I just took a breath and delivered what I felt like I should deliver. I responded as opposed to reacted.
The other thing that happened is I just recognized that it was a heckler, and a heckler is part of what you have to deal with as a comedian. In life, when you are in pursuit of your purpose, you are going to have hecklers. The hecklers are people around you who don’t necessarily want you to succeed; they are speaking negativity into what it is you are trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, more times than not, that heckler isn’t even exterior. That heckler is your own communication with yourself, saying: “You’re not going to be able to do it,” “Your marriage is not going to last,” “Your parents’ marriage didn’t last, so why would yours?” You have to know how to address the heckler.
The Bible actually says: “Cast down every impure thought that is not from God.” That’s a tool in which you use to address the heckler. A greater tool would be to follow it up with God’s Word that says—any of God’s Word that counters whatever the heckler just said to you—but in life, there is going to be hecklers, and you have to know how to address them. If you don’t have any hecklers at all, that just means you’re not walking in your purpose; because if you are walking in your purpose, I guarantee somebody/someone, in some way, is going to try to stop you. In fact, take that as confirmation that you are walking in the right direction.
Dave: You know, it’s easy to think that, people that are somewhat successful—and you’re—
Ann: —like Michael.
Dave: —and you’re really successful—
Ann: Yes; you’re a movie star.
Dave: —do you ever hear heckler voices in your head now?
Michael: Absolutely; I hear them all the time, but I know/I address them immediately.
Ann: How do you do that?—because I would guess, almost everybody has a heckler. I would say that can be old voices in our head—that can be Satan—that can be old wounds. How do you deal with that?
Michael: What I do immediately—so let’s say something like I’m hearing a voice say, “Nobody is going to like your book,”—because I graduated high school, reading at a fourth grade level. Now, I’m writing a book; so a heckler might jump out and be like, “Nobody is going read this book. He can’t even write.” I always assume it’s Satan or somebody who works for him—then, I’ll follow it up with God’s Word; I’ll say: “I’m more than a conqueror,” “I can do all things through Christ,”—it’s just natural.
You have to address that scenario; because what has happened is—you’ve probably let some negativity in an ear-gate or an eye-gate somewhere: it might have been a movie you watched; it might have been some radio or something, where you heard a phrase—now, the enemy is using what you saw against you.
Ann: It reminds of Romans 12:2. Paul says, “Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”
I tell you—talk about the heckler—I had that in my mind for years, of like, “You can’t do it. You’re dumb; you’re ugly; you can’t do this.” I would just go there with it. It created this neurological pathway/a highway in my head that I would just normally: “Oh, that’s just where I go, down that road and down that path.”
Even in my marriage, I would critique Dave in my head; and I would think, “Oh, if he would only do this...” And when God/when I was reading that [Romans 12:2]—and I felt like, “No, Lord, I need You to transform my mind; I need You to renew it,”—it’s like it’s hard at first; it takes practice.
I like that; you are committing Scripture over it, and then you are choosing to take a new pathway.
Ann: At first, it can seem a little like, “Ugh, I’ve never done this”; but after a while, that old highway/that old pathway has weeds on it. It’s not as easy to go back to it, but I love the practicality of what you are saying. Also, just the heckler—we all have that.
Michael: In fact, let me do something. If anybody needs to laugh, if you go to MichaelJr.com/extra, you can get my comedy special, download it for free; no charge. Watch with your entire family and enjoy it, because there is so much negativity and hard stuff going on in the world. We want to get as much laughter as we can to people.
Dave: You know what? Things have just hit me when you were talking about the hecklers—and I read the same thing in your book—is how much Scripture you just quoted from memory as you talked about it. Ann did the same thing. I thought, “So many of us, when we have hecklers, we don’t know Scripture.
Dave: “We haven’t stored it away; we haven’t memorized it, so we can’t counteract it. We don’t even know what our identity is in Christ because we’ve never really read it.”
You’re quoting Philippians 4:13; you’re quoting—I mean, just boom, boom, boom—it’s like: “Look at what you’ve stored away so that the Holy Spirit can bring it up in that moment.” I have hecklers; we all have hecklers. We may take the thought captive—
2 Corinthians 10/take that thought captive—but what do we replace it with?
Michael: Yes! That’s it right there; yes.
Dave: You spoke back to the heckler; turned the whole room around. We often don’t speak back, and we don’t know what to do with it.
I know there is a song that has been around quite a while now, a worship song that I would play in our worship band at church. Every time I hear the line, I tear up. I’m back there, on the bass, playing—I don’t sing; they don’t let me sing—but you know, I’m playing the line that goes [singing]: “I am surrounded by the arms of the Father. I am surrounded by songs—
Michael: Yes; stop; stop. We get it—stop—we get it. [Laughter]
Dave: Anyway, it’s just an identity song: “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.” It’s one of those moments, where you have to say that to yourself to remind yourself: “The heckler is wrong; the truth is I’m a child of God. That is my identity, and I can walk out in freedom.” I can even laugh at a joke, because I’m free to be able to enjoy humor.
Michael: That is so good.
Ann: I have a good friend, whose teenage daughter was really struggling with anxiety and depression. She was hearing that heckler constantly in her mind, and the girl was brave enough to tell her mom what was going on in her head. The mom just started putting Scripture on her mirrors—just a sticky note; you know?—she was surprised her daughter didn’t take it away. Pretty soon, her daughter started adding the Scripture to it to the point that, when the mom walked into the room, the entire mirror was full of Scripture. She just saw this little place for her face, and that was it. All around her face was Scripture.
She [the mother] said, “We just discount the power of the Word of God and discount how it affects our kids, and our spouse, and our family. It’s powerful.” I mean, Jesus did it; that’s how he got rid of the heckler—you know?—when Satan tempted Him in the desert. So it’s big; it’s good.
Michael: That is so great, Ann. I don’t want to talk to you much on this show, because you always bring tears to my eyes; [Laughter] yes.
Ann: You’re awesome.
Michael: Dave brings tears to my eyes for different reasons. I’m just going to say that—[Laughter]—especially when you start singing the way you did.
Dave: I’m not going to sing anymore; [Laughter] but there are so many great stories in the book.
Another one I loved—and it connects to the father’s sort of voice; I don’t remember the guy’s name—your buddy that had the nice cars that he sort of picked up from some friends.
Michael: [Laughter] That’s a nice way to put it.
Michael: My dad was the only dad in the neighborhood—like he was the one—and he used to/he would never buy me stuff, like I mentioned; he would never just give me stuff. My friends’ parents were always just buying them stuff and giving it to them.
I’m in high school, and I’m like, “You never buy me anything. Why don’t you just buy me stuff?” He said to me, “Unfortunately, you’re going to see what is going to happen to them one day”; that’s what he said. I was like, “I see what’s happening to them. They are getting all the girls—that’s what’s happening—they’ve got the best clothes. They’ve got Gazelle®s; they got Kangol® hats. I’m sitting here with this/some old…”—anyway.
One day, one of my friend rolls up in a brand-new car—Duane—it’s a really nice car/really nice car. Duane was a dude, who always had the latest things. He was the first person in our neighborhood who had a pair of black tennis shoes. Black tennis shoes didn’t exist until this dude showed up with a pair of black Reeboks®. They were so awesome! I’d never even heard of black Reeboks before. He is sitting here with black Reeboks; and I’m like, “Man, that is awesome.”
He pulls up in a T-top Trans-Am. I’m leaning over the Trans-Am, talking to him; and it is a brand-new car. He’s like, “Hey, man, you want to go to Kalamazoo with me? I’m going to go pick up some girls.” I wanted to go; this car is nice. Right before I get ready to think about getting in, I could hear my dad’s voice say to me, “You’re going to see what’s going to happen to him one day. Don’t get too close to him. Watch what you are doing.” I hear his voice out of nowhere; and for whatever reason, I was like, “Uh, no, man; I’m not going to go.” I had to go cut some grass instead; because I had to cut the grass in the backyard, which is miserable; because every time you pull the string, the thing never starts the first time.
He pulls off, burning rubber like he’s all cool and stuff. That’s my boy; we were like best friends in high school. This dude takes off. I go cut grass; I’ve got to pull the string like 86 times/whatever. I finish cutting the grass. I’m sitting there, and my dad comes home. He turns on the news, like he always does. We’re sitting there, watching TV. There is some lady on the news reporting about an accident that took place on the
131 Freeway. I’m sitting here, watching, mad; because I can’t go nowhere; I can’t do anything.
They said it was a Trans-Am. I’m like, “Trans-am; that’s what my friend had.” By the way, the Trans-Am was stolen, too, completely stolen. So now, I’m kind of tuned in a little bit; because it’s a black and red Trans-Am, just like Duane had. My heart is kind of beating; like I know, “This is probably not Duane.” They show the car wreck; and they say, “The car hit a pole, doing over 100 miles an hour. The driver was thrown out of the T-tops. The car flipped four times and landed on top of the driver.” At this point, I’m like, “Please don’t be Duane! Please don’t be Duane! Please, please, please don’t be…” Then I remember the news lady saying, “This is Carol Jones”—or something—“signing off from the 131 Freeway.”
My heart is just pounding, pounding because they never said a name. The last camera shot—I will never forget this—the very last camera shot was on a black Reebok tennis shoe. I was done; I knew it was him. I said to my dad/I said, “Dad, it’s him.” We get in the car, and we go to check on him. Listen, I know—like I know—like I know, had I got in that car with him, there is no way I was going to survive; but because, for whatever reason, in that moment, I was able to hear my father’s voice—in the midst of some excitement/in what seemed like was going to be fun—I was able to hear my father’s voice.
There are people out there probably listening. There is a lot of excitement; there’s a lot of fun; a lot of confusion; there is pandemic talk; there is this; there is that. “Can you be still for a moment and hear the Father’s voice before you make that choice? If so, I think you’ll have a pretty awesome story on the other side of it.”
Dave: Yes; and I think, you know, as I read that in your book—you just did it again—how you drive home the priority and the critical fact that you’ve got to listen to the Father’s voice. I mean, I’m thinking there is a husband, listening right now—who is thinking about an affair, or going to a website, or signing a contract—and he has been hearing the still, small voice/maybe, it’s a shout of the Father saying, “Don’t do it. You know where this—don’t.” I mean, you did not get in that car because of a nudge from your father’s voice that saved your life.
Dave: This could save your marriage/could save your legacy. I don’t know what God is saying. Just the fact that you are listening to this broadcast, and you’re hearing this story—this is God speaking—and He is saying, “Don’t do it.”
Michael: Yes, don’t get caught up in doing the math. If God says, “Don’t do it,”—and you don’t even know why/like you can’t even figure out why you wouldn’t do it—don’t even try to figure out why. Like there is no—I mean, first of all, I didn’t even know Jesus when I was about to get in that car; I had no idea who God was—none at all. I thought God was somebody that you bring up after somebody sneezed—like that’s all I thought—like, “God bless you.”
So don’t try to do the math on: “Well, if I don’t do it like God is saying, well, this will happen…” “…this will happen…” “…this will happen.,,” No, don’t even do that math; just trust and watch what takes place. Like whatever that thing is—walk away from that deal, or just decide not to meet up with that person, whatever that is—listen to His voice and watch what will take place.
Dave: I’m sitting here, beside my wife of 40 years; because of the nudge of God telling me walk away from a relationship with a girl I was going to marry in college. I thought she was the one, and then God kept saying, “Nope; nope.” I kept saying, “I don’t care what You think; I know better.” When I finally realized God is right—I mean, I would have never met you.
Dave: We’d never be here. There wouldn’t be a legacy; I wouldn’t be in ministry. I’d probably be a divorced man today; you know? I would have copied what I saw in my own home.
Again, that’s how powerful God’s voice is. He loves us; He has a better plan for us than we have. It’s just the fact of having the courage to say, “I’m going to do the right thing. I’m going to do what He called me to do.”
Ann: Well, the thing that really struck me with both of you—with Michael, you; and you, Dave—is the power of a dad’s voice/the power of a father’s voice. Then, if you put a godly man with that—like your dad was a great man—then, for you two men, Michael and Dave, and you put Jesus in your lives; so you have the power of the Holy Spirit—it’s like you are super powers; you know?
Michael: That’s a great way to put it.
Ann: You’re such strong men that hear God’s voice/the Father’s voice—so that makes your voice in the home with your kids/with your wife, where you work—like it’s such a powerful voice. I think it’s easy for us to feel like, “Oh, our voices don’t really matter. Our kids are like, ‘Whatever.’”
But they really do have so much power, and they have so much influence in your homes. I look at Dave—and I’ve always been jealous—I’ve told him, like, “Man, I’m jealous of power that you have over our kids’ lives. You talk; and they are just like, ‘Oh, that’s good, Dad,’” where they kind of give me the eye roll thing when they were younger. Man, I just think it’s important for men to hear the power that you carry. Then, when you listen to God’s voice on top of that, it’s your super power.
Michael: It’s the Father speaking through some dads. Let me say this, too, in case someone is listening, like, “I don’t know how to hear God’s voice.” You’re hearing voices all the time; you just don’t know which one might be God’s. There are three ways to know that it’s God talking to you.
Number one, it will always line up with His Word—whatever that thing is/whatever you are supposed to do—it will always line up with His Word. Number two, it will be confirmed with one or two other believers—like-minded people; not What’s-his-name?/not What’s-her-name?—some like-minded, believers. Number three, you will feel a peace about it. If you’ve got those three things, jump; and watch what God will do. That’s what I do. If I’ve got those three things, I don’t do any more math; there is no more math to do. I just run, and jump, and do it.
You’ll see in the book, there are some things that I’ve done that were really kind of out there. Looking back at it, it’s because I had all of that, even though I didn’t know the math on it. I just jumped: moving to New York; I moved to New York City on New Year’s Eve night. I got off stage—in Royal Oak, Michigan, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle—got in my 1997 Chevy Lumina, start driving to New York City, all my possessions in my car. My car got stolen; everything about me was just gone, all of a sudden; but God completely worked it out; because I just jumped, because I knew I heard His voice.
Stop doing the math; God’s math is different.
Dave: Yes; I’ve just got to say: “Get Michael’s book.”
Dave: Seriously—Funny How Life Works—there are so many stories like this that have life-changing truths. You’ve got to read them.
Ann: This would be a fun book to read with your family, like read it with your kid before bed—one chapter a night—your kids would love it.
Michael: And the proceeds—I didn’t mention this part; did I?—all of the proceeds, because there is so much stuff going on in the world, it’s going to a black family in America.
Dave: Do you know who that family is? [Laughter]
Bob: [Laughter] We have copies of Michael Jr.’s book, Funny How Life Works, available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to get a copy, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the book is called Funny How Life Works. It’s about a lot more than comedy; it’s about the purpose for your life and how to live out that purpose. Order it from us online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call to order at 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Again, as Michael mentioned, if you’d like to download his comedy special for free, we’ve got a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. Go there, click the link, and the comedy special is yours for free download. Check that out.
I was on Amazon recently, and was just checking out new books that are out, books on parenting. When I saw that, in the top ten books on parenting—I don’t know if this is still the case, but when I looked at it—Dave and Ann Wilson’s new book, No Perfect Parents, was the number-one listing. I think it was like the audio book was number one; and then the hardback book was, maybe, number three; and the Kindle edition was somewhere in the top ten as well. Three of the top ten listings for new books on parenting belonged to Dave and Ann/their book, No Perfect Parents.
This week, we are offering that book to those of you who want to come alongside the ministry of FamilyLife and be a part of what God is doing through this ministry, helping to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We think there has never been a time as critical—maybe, in the history of our nation—for strengthening families than the time we are living in today.
At FamilyLife Today, our mission is to effectively develop godly marriages and families. Godly marriages and families are countercultural in our day, and that’s what we are all about. When you help advance the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we want to say, “Thank you,” by sending you Dave and Ann Wilson’s new book, No Perfect Parents, either for yourself, or you can give it to someone you know. All you have to do is make a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and request your copy of the book, No Perfect Parents. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear about an event that is happening next month that, for a lot of guys, this is going to sound familiar; because Ken Harrison is going to join us. We’re going to hear about AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the 2021 Promise Keepers event that is happening in July. You may want to start making plans for a little road trip with some guys. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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