More Than Funny
About the Guest
More Than Funny Movie Trailer
Comedian Michael Jr. talks about his feature film called, “More Than Funny.” Michael explains why this movie is more than just a way to be entertained.
More Than Funny
Bob: Comedian, Michael Jr., remembers a paradigm shift that occurred that changed the way he does comedy.
Michael: Most comedians, most of the time—myself included—it was all about getting laughs from people. But I felt like God said to me, “Instead of trying to get laughs from people, I want you to give them the opportunity to laugh.” This changed everything! Because now I’m not looking to take anything; I’m just looking for an opportunity to give.
So, when an opportunity to go to a homeless shelter or abused children facility—when it showed it up—I would think to myself, “This is an opportunity for me to give laughter.” It doesn’t have anything to do with how they respond—they laugh every time. But that’s not why I’m there. I’m there to give them an opportunity, even if they don’t laugh.
Everyone has a gift. Most of the time, we’re giving the gift to see some sort of response. But the truth is—your job is simply to present the gift.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 10th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Michael Jr.’s got a gift he’s going to be presenting for all of us next week.
We’ll talk about that gift and about his comedy today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We were all scheduled to talk about something pretty serious today/pretty sober; and then, I walk in here and see who you’re hanging out with. I go: “Well, there goes that plan. We are not going to get to our serious topic today.”
Dennis: And what’s really kind of funny to me is that we’ve got a guest, who’s been on FamilyLife® before, and I don’t know what his last name is. [Laughter] I only know him as Michael Jr.
Bob: Well, is Jr. your last name?
Michael: Yes; unless you say it backwards.
Bob: And then it’s Ra—Raj; Raj. I can’t even say it backwards. [Laughter]
Michael: It’s just Jr. Michael. [Laughter] Yes; why do you have to make it more complex?
Bob: I was trying to come up with Riahjo. I was trying to get junior backwards; I couldn’t do that.
Dennis: Our paths first crossed—what?—half a dozen years ago at the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise.
Dennis: Michael performed onboard; and how shall we say?—it’s all been history. The lines, going back to the rooms where he performs, is actually a problem; because, if you’re speaking, they will leave your message early to go get in line to—
Bob: —to hear Michael Jr.
Dennis: —to hear Michael Jr. and his comedy.
Bob: Well, and folks who have started watching the Art of Parenting™ are seeing Michael pop up, periodically, with some sage parenting wisdom that you shared with our audience.
Michael: Impromptu stuff—you guys are so cool—like you said: “Hey, we’ve got this crazy idea. While you are on the cruise, we’re going to film you,”—completely improv. Nothing was prepared, except for the team; but nothing was scheduled. We just let people ask questions about parenting. And funny—just—it just kind of happened.
Dennis: And it was dope—it was really dope! [Laughter]
Michael: So let me explain what just happened here. [Laughter] So before—
Bob: It was a set up. [Laughter]
Michael: So before we went on air, I said the word, “dope.” Dennis was like, “Did you call me a dope?!” “No; no.”
Dennis: I thought he called my book a dope! [Laughter]
Michael: No; dope means that something is efficient—it’s nice; it’s clean; it’s smooth; it’s cool. [Laughter]
Bob: You were talking about Dennis’s book, Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date—
Bob: —which you actually used; right?
Michael: Yes; I read the book—I used the tactics.
Dennis: What was it like the first time you interviewed a guy?
Michael: —for a job position?
Dennis: No; to take your daughter out.
Michael: It was a little—I was trying not to be super-intimidating or have him be too intimidated, because it’s like—first of all, he’d never heard of such a thing. He thought he could just take her out. I was like: “No; you actually can’t. We need to sit down.” The dude was tall—he was like 6’8”. I’m only 6’2.” He’s looking down at me when I’m really looking down at him, so it was kind of cool. [Laughter]
Bob: Is this the guy you share about in the Art of Parenting?—because you say you asked the question: “On a scale of 1-10—
Michael: Yes, yes; I said to him: “So, on a scale of 1 to 10, where do you think my daughter is spiritually?”
He was like, “She’s probably—she’s like an 8.” He has some kind of accent: “She’s like an 8.” I was like, “Mm, yeah; she’s not an 8 right now.” [Laughter] I didn’t say that—I didn’t say that to him—but I just wanted to get a gage for where—so I said, “Where do you feel like you are?” He said, “I’m probably a 5.”
I explained to him—I said: “So she’s an 8; you’re a 5. So you play basketball; right? You play forward—going to college.” I said: “What happens to your game, if you are an 8, and you play / you practice against somebody who is a 5? What happens to your game if that’s who you practice against?” He said, “It goes down.” I said “Yeah, it does.” [Laughter] I said: “This date thing is probably not going to work out;”—at all, really—“but you’re a nice guy.” “Awesome.” “Hope your basketball career goes great,” and then—
Dennis: “But you’re not going out with my daughter.”
Michael: Yes: “You’re not going out with her.”
Dennis: And your daughter said?
Michael: Well, I just told her he wasn’t dope. [Laughter]
And then—so we had to move on, and she was cool.
Here’s another thing I did with my daughters is—this is when they had voice mail and they would use it—I recorded her voicemail greeting. If you call my daughter’s phone, it says: “Hello; thank you for calling”—like one of my daughters’ name is Cheryl—"Thanks for calling Cheryl’s phone. If you don’t have plans to help her follow God’s purpose, hang up now. If you do, leave a message; she’ll call you back. If you have any questions at all about this greeting, you can call me at…"—I would leave my phone number.
What this does—it sets a tone, where there’s a gatekeeper. There’s another man, who absolutely loves her; and if you really want to have anything to do with her, I’m going to be there.
Dennis: That story is also on the Art of Parenting video series.
Michael: It is?
Michael: Oh, cool!
Dennis: Doesn’t he appear in all eight of the sessions?
Bob: I—there may be a session—I think the last session we left him out, because it gets pretty emotional in that last session. We didn’t need funny.
Dennis: You don’t think he could handle it?
Bob: We didn’t need funny in the last session as we talked about “What the Purpose of Parenting Is,” but—
Michael: Is that all I am to you is funny?
Bob: No; let me just say, “You are more than funny.”
Dennis: That’s a nice segue.
Michael: Well, a segue.
Bob: How is that for a segue?
Dennis: And explain to our listeners why Bob said it that way—“more than funny.”
Michael: Well, that just happens to be the name of my movie that’s in theaters next week.
Michael: A Fathom event—one night only—it’s called More Than Funny.
Bob: It is Thursday night next week. If listeners are interested, they can buy tickets now—they’re on sale. You should buy them in advance; because in some cities, this is going to sell out; so you want to get your tickets. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—there’s a trailer for the movie that’s available there, so you can see it—and you can order your tickets. This is a comedy special, but it’s more than funny; right?
Michael: Yes; so it’s comedy. When I travel the country, I’m doing comedy; but—so let’s say I’m presenting joke number one; and then, normally, what would happen—I would start doing the math on what I think joke number two should be, based off how you’re currently responding to joke number one.
And then, once I have that one confirmed, I move on to joke number three, joke number four. I will go seven-jokes deep, even though I’m still presenting the first joke.
Then, I met Jesus; right?—and He wanted to talk between the jokes. [Laughter] So now, I can’t go seven deep anymore; because I’m listening in between the jokes and asking the question, “What can I give this audience?” He’ll say to me—like I feel like there are certain things I should do or certain things I should say—and that’s actually the more in between the jokes.
The reason we’re calling it More Than Funny is—people will show up / a lot of non-Christians will show up, because they think it’s extra funny. It is; but it’s really, more than funny. So there’s three stories that we share in the middle of these jokes, via video, of some really inspiring—you guys watched this—
Bob: We’ve seen it.
Michael: —yes; and there’s some really inspiring stories right in the middle. So people laugh—they’re emotionally—like their hearts are open; it’s really, really cool.
Bob: The purpose of the stories—and I love this—it’s not just to tell stories that are inspiring; but it’s to tell stories that will get people to go: “I could do something like that.
Bob: “I can take what God’s given me—my gifts, my talents, my abilities—I can leverage them for Kingdom purposes.” If all of us were just thinking, intentionally, that way a little more often, that would have a huge impact on what’s going on in the culture.
Dennis: I wanted to ask you, Michael, was it intimidating for you to go into a homeless shelter and do comedy? I mean, I know you’re a professional; but you’re walking into a group of people, who for the most part, their DNA is hopelessness.
Michael: Yes; yes.
Dennis: And humor and hopelessness—I just kind of wonder: “What were you thinking and feeling at that point?”
Michael: The homeless shelter was hard. Prisons—I do comedy—I did a couple of prisons as well—captive audience. [Laughter] But a homeless shelter—so what happened—the reason I’m able to do these events is because I had a shift in mindset. Where most comedians, most of the time—myself included—it was all about getting laughs from people. But I felt like God said to me, “Instead of trying to get laughs from people, I want you to give them the opportunity to laugh.”
This changed everything! Because now I’m not looking to take anything; I’m just looking for an opportunity to give.
So when an opportunity to go to a homeless shelter or abused children facility—when it showed it up, I would think to myself “This is an opportunity for me to give laughter.” It doesn’t’ have anything to do with how they respond—they laugh every time. But that’s not why I’m there. I’m there to give them an opportunity, even if they don’t laugh.
Everyone has a gift. Most of the time, we’re giving the gift to see some sort of response. But the truth is—your job is simply to present the gift. It doesn’t have anything to do with how they respond to it.
I was talking to this mechanic at one of my shows—I was like, “What do you do?” He says, “Well, I’m a mechanic.” I’m like, “What does that mean?” He said, “That means I get paid to fix cars.” I was like, “Okay.” So we start talking a little bit; by the end of our conversation, his statement was: “I help insure that people reach their desired destination.” That will put your alarm clock out of business; the other will cause you to hit snooze.
So this comedy special is funny—it’s the same type of comedy I’ve done on the Tonight Show, Comedy Central—all of these television shows. It’s the same type of comedy, but it’s more than just funny. So we want people to come laugh. The cool part is—Christians can bring their non-Christian friends and say “Hey, watch this.” They get to see Christians laughing at some legit comedy.
And don’t be creepy when you invite them. Why do, sometimes, Christians—their voice changes when they go [sounding like an insecure person], “Do you want to go to the movies with me?” What are you doing?! [Laughter]
Bob: The first joke I ever heard you tell—and it was an adlib joke—we’ve talked about this.
Michael: Oh my goodness.
Bob: You were onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. I was introducing you.
Bob: Right beforehand, I gave an announcement—I said: “We’ve got a silent auction that’s taking place onboard the boat. We’re raising money for something here. You can go up tonight, and look at the items, and make a bid. It’s all happening on the ninth deck—it’s in the Plantation Lounge. You go up and take part in that”; and then, I introduced you.
Without missing a beat, you walked out; and you said: “I’m a little scared right now.
“Because I’m a black man, on a boat in the ocean’ and I just found out there’s an auction in the Plantation Lounge.” [Laughter] We all rolled, but I’ve watched you skillfully navigate the whole racial issue in comedy in a way that is disarming with people. Sometimes, I think: “How does he”—like you do a thing in the movie—that we’ll see next Thursday night in theaters—where you talk about the difference between white people’s dogs and black people’s dogs.
Michael: Hysterical. [Laughter] Listen, I’m not saying this is funny—because there’s really nothing I do in that—all I do is pull out the truth. I just talk about dog names, and it is—I laugh every single night that we do this joke—like I look forward to it! I’m just pointing out some truths that kind of happen, and it’s really—you’ve got to see it, because it’s different every single night. When you go to the movie, wait until I talk about dog names—you’re going to lose it.
Bob: Does anybody ever come up to you offended with the fact that you go there in terms of racial differences?
Michael: I think the more we can laugh at our differences, the less important they become. It opens up some dialogue around here.
I did have someone say to me once—I think they saw me on some TV show or whatever—and they said, “I can’t believe you were there, and you never said, ‘Jesus,’ the whole time.” “I’m sorry. What do you do for a living? Okay; so you work at McDonalds®. Right after you give them a Big Mac®, do you say, ‘Hey, and Jesus loves you’?”
Like I want everybody in the world to know that I’m a Christian, but I don’t want to have to say it. I want people to say, “Man, there is something going on.” Then, if you check anywhere—anywhere at all—you’re going to find out the truth. My job is to catch them with the comedy and keep them with the truth—not lead with the truth and, then, make them laugh.
Bob: Well, and you’re never shy about your faith.
Bob: You were telling us, over lunch, as you’ve traveled the country, you’ve had tens of thousands of people, who’ve made a profession of faith, at one of your events.
Michael: Yes; it’s pretty overwhelming how many people come forward. My whole goal is, not just for them to make that decision, but we want help people go to the next level and actually walk it out.
Dennis: You believe that comedy just shows up. In fact, you say that in your movie. What I wanted to ask you was: “Where do you think comedy comes from?—humor/laughter. Do you believe that was given to us by God?”
Michael: That is so awesome. So first, you asked a question—you said, “Where does it come from?” You paused, but the silence was too much; so then you had to feed me a little bit. [Laughter]
Dennis: I wasn’t sure you had the answer there. [Laughter]
Michael: I got something.
Bob: We don’t want dead air, because Michael Jr. is—
Dennis: People turn the radio off!—okay?
Michael: No; they don’t; they actually don’t—no, no, no. It’s more suspenseful if they got nothing and like: “I know they’re coming back any second.” So let’s try it again.
Dennis: Okay; so let’s have a pause.
Dennis: Where do you think laughter comes from, Michael Jr.?
Bob: Oooh; oooh!
Michael: See—that felt kind of right. [Laughter]
Dennis: Are you there?! [Laughter]
Michael: It felt right. [Laughter] I absolutely, unquestionably, know that God has given us that as a release. People always quote Proverbs 17:22: “Laughter is good like a medicine.” But God has given me this gift to understand—like in the midst of however dramatic a situation may be, I can find the funny. I’m starting to understand, even more so, when not to bring the funny—when to just show up.
You’ll see this in this—when you watch this movie, the funny is there; but there are some stories and some challenges that happen—like there’s no comedy special that exists that’s like this. I can say that with all confidence because we made it/we saw it—like nobody takes these sort of stories. We’re in the woods, with homeless people; and then suddenly, we’re on stage in front of 4,000 people, doing jokes.
God has given me an ability, not really just comedy, but really to communicate in a way.
I know it’s from him. Comedy does show up, but it’s from Him. For me to be able to do this math—this fast and find this funny—it’s absolutely God.
Dennis: You don’t know this about FamilyLife Today—but you know this about Bob and me—we enjoy having fun. When people come up to us and say, “I listen to the broadcast,” they’ll, first of all, say, “Thanks for taking us to the Bible.” Secondly, “Thanks for being authentic.” But always, within the top three, is laughter.
Dennis: People want and need to laugh today. They mention that about our broadcast, and I think that’s what you’re doing in this movie. You’re giving people a gift of laughter—having a good time and not doing it in a crass way.
Michael: That’s awesome, and it’s not corny. Because a lot of times, when you hear, “Christian,” and you hear, “comedy,” the visual you got is—people—the next question is: “Where’s your puppet?” “A puppet? What are you talking about?—a puppet.” [Laughter] “I don’t know—a puppet?” “What are you talking about?” [Laughter]
Bob: —“flannel board.”
Michael: “What are talking about?” “Hambo; hambo; ha…”—like: “That’s not what I’m doing. It’s the legit comedy that you’ll see on late-night television. In fact, if you just Google® ‘Michel Jr.’—not just me—there’s some other really funny comedians out there, whom I won’t name right now; because I need you to go see my movie.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Are you saying you’re never corny?
Michael: Not on purpose; I hope not! [Laughter] I might like if I’m working out in the yard—I might get a corn on my hand or something, but I—[Laughter]—yeah.
Bob: —not intentionally.
Michael: No; not on purpose, because that’s weird.
Bob: You filmed this in front of a live audience. They were in on the fact that they were part of the movie; right?
Michael: Yes; they knew. We filmed it in Cordova, Tennessee. They knew that we were doing the movie, and they were—it was an awesome audience. They are excited about seeing themselves.
We’ve all seen a comedy special / we’ve all seen some inspiring stories; but you don’t get to see them together in the middle—like what happens, emotionally, is just really cool.
Bob: And your hope is the same as our hope was when we did our movie, Like Arrows, in theaters, back last May.
Our hope was it would be catalytic—it would be the beginning of a parenting journey for moms and dads. Your hope with this special—next Thursday night / that’s going to be in theaters one night only—is that this will be catalytic. This is the beginning of an adjustment for people to start thinking differently about their punchline; right?
Michael: Absolutely. Are you bringing up Cadillac’s because I’m a black dude? [Laughter] Is that just what happened?
Bob: Catalytic is the converter in a Cadillac. [Laughter]
Michael: Oh, okay; thank you; thank you. I was like: “Why is he bringing up—man, I like Toyotas.” [Laughter]
Yes! Yes; there is a really cool, awesome, amazing call to action at the end of this film, where we want to help people help people in a really cool way. We’re creating a platform, where people help people, but not with money. You can’t use money on this platform to help people. We’re going to let everybody know after they see the movie, so go see the movie.
And on top of that, the proceeds from the movie—because there’s so much stuff going on in the world—we’re doing—the proceeds is going to a black family in America.
Dennis: Yours?! [Laughter]
Michael: Yes; that was a joke, Dennis! [Laughter] If you say, “Yours,” you kind of mess up the whole joke. [Laughter] No; I am very, very, very, very, very excited about the movie. We took some big risks on this thing, but I feel like—I just try to listen and do. Whatever it turns into, I think it will be special. It’s called More Than Funny—share the trailer with as many people as you possibly can.
Dennis: And you know the thing that I like about it—I like that you’re wanting to deploy people—and their gifts and their abilities—because everybody today can make a difference in somebody else’s life.
Michael: So let me tell a quick story. So there’s a—I tell this in the film, but I got to share it with you. We’re creating a platform, where people can go deliver their punchlines, so to speak. You’ll understand what that means in the movie.
I was in Nashville, Tennessee—I’m in Nashville—and like I said, I like to listen in between the jokes. I ask the question, “What can I give?” as opposed to, “What can I get?”
And please understand—if by default—if you don’t articulate the answer to that question, by default, you’re asking the question, “What can I get?” By default, ever since we ate the fruit from the tree, you’re just looking for yourself.
So I’m in Nashville. I’m listening in between the jokes; and I’m asking, “What can I give to this audience?” I feel like I’m supposed to bring this lady up on stage, who is in the front row. I don’t know why, but I asked her to come up on stage. Well, the issue is—she’s deaf, and she can’t hear. There’s 2,500 people there; and there’s a lady on stage, doing sign language. I said “Hey, can you ask her to come up on stage?” The whole audience is frozen, because they don’t know what’s going on; the lady didn’t know what’s going on. I’m not sure what’s going on. I asked the lady; and she signs over to her, and she comes up on stage.
I said to her “Can you ask her, ‘What is her biggest need?’” The audience is frozen—they don’t know. She signs to the sign language lady; and the lady says to me: “She says she doesn’t have any needs. She’s okay.” I was like: “No; no! Ask her again.”
So then the lady signs back and she says, “Well, her and her husband haven’t been able to go on a vacation for over 13 years, not even for a weekend.” Now, normally, what we would do is—we would just collect some money and, then, that’s the end of the story. There you go, “Yay!” But this isn’t about giving the money. This is about giving from yourself. That’s what a punch-liner will do, and you’ll learn about that in the film.
All I did was—I asked the next question—I said, “Okay; so why not?” And then she did sign language; she came back, and the lady said to me: “Well, they have a special needs child. They can’t afford anyone, who could really take care of the child in a way where they would feel safe leaving.”
I thought, “Okay.” I turn to my audience—after explaining to them how your set up is what you receive—what your punchline is: what you’re called to deliver. I turn to the audience and said, “Who in here can deliver the punchline?” I said, “Where is the special needs nurse who can deliver the punchline?”
Bob: “Who could watch the child while the couple gets away?”
Michael: Absolutely. So, the first time, the whole room is silent—they still in shock! I’m still kind of trippin’ too. I said it again, “Where is the special needs nurse who can deliver a punchline that this family needs?”
And then, you hear a voice come from the top balcony. This lady says, “Here I am.” This lady comes walking down, and we introduce them. The whole room is done—I’m talking about done—like I’m in tears; the sign language lady is in tears. They live 30 minutes from each other, and we got to experience that.
Now, if we had just collected some money, I wouldn’t even be telling you this story right now; but someone showed up, willing to deliver their punchline. The reason we put these stories in the middle of these jokes is—because everyone thinks what they need is a laugh or a break—but what you really need to know is: “What are you called to deliver?”
Michael: So that’s what we plan to do with this movie. Bring people and say to them, “Hey, we’re going to go laugh,” because you are going to laugh.
Bob: That’s right.
Michael: It’s more than funny—it just so happens it’s More Than Funny.
Bob: I just want listeners to understand—if all you got out of next Thursday night was a great comedy show—that would be worth you doing this—because it’s a great comedy show, but you’re going to get so much more out of this. I think God’s going to show up, in a powerful way, in theaters all across the country.
Dennis: And there’s nothing as exhilarating as knowing that you, as a creature created in the image of God, is operating within His will—deploying your gifts and abilities, impacting another human being—maybe that’s the gift of helping them; maybe it’s carpentry; maybe it’s caring for someone; maybe it’s just holding a baby—but regardless, step up, and make a difference, and go to this movie.
And as you go, think about your purpose / think about your cause: “What’s your punchline?”
Michael: Here’s the thing about a punchline—it’s not super deep. You have a phone—you could actually send a text to three people that says: “I really appreciate you.
“Sorry I don’t say it enough,”—boom!
Your set up was the fact you know how to text, and you have a phone. Punchline is the fact you decided to deliver it. It doesn’t have to be that complex. I want everyone to go, so you can see the vision; so you can enjoy; so you can laugh. Just go to Michaeljr.com and remember where the proceeds are going—
Bob: —to a black family in America. [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m not telling them. I’m not telling them, again, where it’s going. [Laughter]
Michael: No; no! It’s cool.
Bob: We’ve got the trailer on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can go watch it there—share it with friends there. Again, tickets are available now. Again, there is a link at FamilyLifeToday.com that will tell you how you can get tickets. So, again, go to the website—check it out. The movie is next Thursday night in theaters across the country. That’s Thursday, October 18th. All the information you need is available there.
Before we’re done—
Michael: It could sell out too, so they got to move kind of quickly.
Bob: Get your tickets now. We had people show up for Like Arrows at the theater and couldn’t get in. I understand, co I hope people will—
Dennis: Well, and we had people show up on the cruise, trying to get in for Michael Jr.’s—
Bob: —couldn’t get in for that either, so get your tickets in advance.
Before we’re done, tell our listeners about your daughter’s hamster; would you?
Michael: My daughter—right?—three years old—had a hamster. I say, “had a hamster”; because we were in the backyard, playing. A hawk or something—swishhh. She’s looking at me, “Daddy, where’s Mr. Jacobs going?” I was like: “Umm—he uh—he going hang gliding. [Laughter] We going to pick him up, later, at the pet store. If he has a good time, he might look different when we pick him up though,”—yeah. [Laughter]
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