Christian Comedian John Crist is Actually Really, Really Funny

John Crist (from his website)
John Crist (from his website)

Last updated on July 1st, 2019 at 11:40 am

“If you still aren’t convinced that Crist is for you, don’t just take my word for it. Aside from the one billion views he’s had on YouTube, he’s shared the stage with Dave Chapelle, Jeff Foxworthy, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, Larry the Cable Guy, Adam Carolla, Dana Carvey, and more.”

I understand why people love and hate contemporary Christian art.  

While I say art in general, I’m mostly talking about music (worship music, what they play on KTIS, etc.) and movies (God’s Not DeadLeft Behind, etc.).  

On the one hand, those sorts of things are edifying for many believers, speaking intimately to their hearts. Their uplifting messages also add some much-needed positivity to the world. 

On the other hand, there is little in contemporary Christian music and movies that speaks to non-Christians. They often come off as unappealingly saccharine. Their in-your-face style, along with sometimes too-obvious messaging, tends to suffocate creativity and leaves little room for artistic integrity. 

Conversely, Christian comedy is having a huge upsurge.  

The Babylon Bee, a Christian satire site, is actually as funny as The Onion (if not funnier)Christian comedians are so popular, and have such a far reachthat a triple-bill of them nearly filled the entire lower bowl of the Target Center as part of the huge inaugural MPLS Comedy Festival. 

Headliner John Crist is one of the funniest comedians in America right now, Christian or not. If you don’t believe me – or his 400k+ YouTube followers – consider this: he’s the only person on the MPLS Comedy Festival lineup able to book the Target Center.  

Late night darling Seth Meyers is playing the State Theater. Comedy legend Bob Newhart is appearing at the Orpheum. A monster triple-bill of George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, and D.L. Hughley is at the State Theater.  

Check out the MPLS Comedy Festival website. It’s clear that Crist is the headliner of the entire festival. Could you imagine a Christian band headlining a secular music festival?  

Why is Christian comedy so much better than Christian music and movies? 

Part of it has to do with genre. The overt messaging and sentimentality of Christian music and movies just aren’t possible in comedy, good comedy at least. There has to be an edge. Even Christians have the good taste not to find unfunny things funny, and sentimental comedy wouldn’t be funny. 

Christian comedians also have a certain old-school quality to them. They talk about people’s everyday lives in funny ways. They comment on social and religious quirks cleverly and indiscriminately, never piling on one side or another. They’re inclusive. People on all sides can relate to them. 

Take the Babylon Bee for example. Some of their current headlines: “Conflict Looms Between Unstable, War-Mongering Nation and Iran,” “Amazing: Mueller’s Statement Confirms Whatever You Already Believed About Trump,” and “Nation’s Progressive Christians Applaud Hell for Being so Inclusive.” They’re not afraid to go after anybody for the sake of humor, and that’s how it should be. 

Perhaps most importantly, Christian comedians are able to make fun of themselves – and Christianity. Many articles on the Babylon Bee make fun of Christians, including Evangelicals (which the people who run the site are), Protestants, Catholics, and fundamentalists. Many of John Crist’s funniest videos on YouTube make fun of Christians quirks in the same way. 

People who don’t take themselves too seriously are funny. They’re endearing. Christian comedy has this right now, while secular comedy largely doesn’t. 

So, how was the show? 

Fellow Christian comedians Aaron Weber and Dustin Nickerson opened for Crist, making the most of their relatively short sets. Weber’s best jokes were about his ineptitude at car maintenance, while the latter had several funny bits about his family (“I have three kids, and one of them is dumb. I won’t tell you which one, but the other two know,” “I married my wife young because I knew she was way too good for me. When people see us walking down the street together, they think: ‘I bet he’s funny…’”). 

Crist’s varied, well-structured set began with a video montage of classic comedy and comedians, from the Three Stooges to the Simpsons and Seinfeld. The emphasis on the importance of laughter was emphasized throughout his set, especially at the end. He implored Christians to be less offended by the world around them and to laugh more. Obviously, all people could use this message. 

Many of Crist’s best jokes made fun of Minnesota. In a video that was played between sets, Crist and Dickerson narrated a drive through Minneapolis from earlier in the day: “Do you guys even have a baseball team? Oh yeah, the Twins. They kind of remind me of Microsoft – they were big in the ‘90s,” “Target Center, Target Field, Target Plaza…no wonder white girls love Minneapolis so much,” “Minnesota is the type of place you go on vacation when your dad is laid off.” 

Variety is the…

Crist’s set went in many different directions. He poked fun at children’s art in the airport, homeschool kids, and mega-church pastors. Far from a simple set of stand-up, he integrated both music and videos, including an impressively accurate re-interpretation of the opening scene from The Lion King (“homeschoolers are all like, ‘that’s from a movie, right?’”).  

Although most of his bits are easy to understand even if you aren’t a Christian, he does have the occasional deep-dive Christian joke. I’m a Christian, but I didn’t even catch some of them. It’s not a large enough part of his set to detract from it for non-Christians, though. It’s nice for Christians to have smart, funny commentary on things that mean a lot to them specifically. 

My Boy John Crist 

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hmu where y’all at tonight

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If you still aren’t convinced that Crist is for you, don’t just take my word for it. Aside from the one billion views he’s had on YouTube, he’s shared the stage with Dave Chapelle, Jeff Foxworthy, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, Larry the Cable Guy, Adam Carolla, Dana Carvey, and more.  

Minnesota comedy legend Louie Anderson – I’m currently writing this article two blocks away from where he went to elementary school – has this to say about him: “It’s only a matter of time until John Crist is a household name. He is so likable and his stand-up is top notch.” 

His funny, intelligent set at the Target Center proved as much. 

Bonus: Get to Know John Crist

If you don’t know Crist, these five videos are a good primer. His YouTube channel is must-see.

How It’s Made: Christian Music

“Christian music song formula: three chords, simple rhymes, vague struggles, BOOM – hit song.” 

Every Hipster in Portland

“I don’t drink coffee anymore, it’s too mainstream. I just go to the roaster and suckle the beans.” 

Celebrity Pastor Fantasy Draft

“Pastor Performance Rating, it’s like Quarterback Rating but for pastors. You take the number of their congregation, divide it by the number of satellite campuses, take the number of times you see them on TV per week, multiply it by the New York Times bestsellers, and divide that by the number of minutes their sermon goes over each week.” 

UberChristian: The Rideshare App Exclusively for Christians

“At UberChristian, our custom road maps will even prompt detours to avoid potentially tempting situations like bars, night clubs, and women jogging in yoga pants.” 

Red Apron: The Fast Food Delivery Service Disguised as Meal Prep

“Just order your favorite fast food, then our drivers will pick it up, drop in in a pretentious box, and leave it at your door. Let’s face facts: assembling pre-packaged food with a step-by-step instruction guide doesn’t make you a cook, it makes you good at following directions. You’re hungry, the last thing you want to do when you get home from work is Ikea your dinner together.” 

Written by Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a songwriter, musician, journalist, and podcaster based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s released over a dozen albums since 2002, most recently Old Dog Almost Gone (2021), the first-ever multimedia album, and his latest collection of all original material, A Scientific Search (2020). During his 15+ years as a music journalist, Erik has written hundreds of articles for Music in Minnesota, Something Else Reviews, his own blog Rambling On, and more. In addition to continuing his music career, Erik currently runs The Cosmic American, a music journalism website, and is the editor of Music in Minnesota.


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