GRAPEVINE, Texas — For Michael Jr., comedy is more than making people laugh — it’s a way to share the Gospel, uplift audiences and motivate them to discover their God-given purpose.
“I feel like God has given me an understanding on how to reveal to audiences what they need while giving them what they want,” the comedian told The Christian Post in a sit-down interview.
“Instead of just doing jokes, I listen in between the gaps while people are laughing and I’m asking, ‘What can I give to my audience? What do they need?’ While they’re laughing and having a good time, I hit them with some truth, encouragement and application.”
From “The Tonight Show” to “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Michael Jr. has graced some of the country’s largest comedy stages. Driven by the belief that laughter can be a source of healing and inspiration, the father of five also shares his gift with those in homeless shelters and prisons.
Over the years, Michael Jr. said, he’s had “almost unbelievable” encounters with people, from a fugitive of the law who turned himself in after hearing the comedian’s message about “doing hard things” to a police officer who held a gun to his head after falsely accusing him of selling illegal drugs.
“I’ve had some cool things happen and some not-so-cool things,” he reflected. “But as I look back at the stories in my life, and even things that are going on currently, I’m able to look at it differently and see how God can use it to help other people.”
In his latest book,Funny How Life Works, Michael Jr. shares 25 stories from his life with the stated aim of inspiring readers to embrace their God-given purpose — or, how he describes it, their “punchline.”
“I try to articulate these stories in such a way where people can reflect on how to apply the outcomes to their life,” the “Selfie Dad” star said.
The book is full of practical wisdom and spiritual principles hidden within humor — a strategy the comedian, who described himself as “pastoral,” employs in his comedy sets.
“We teach you about purpose in the book, we give you some homework, but because you’re laughing, you don’t even know you’re doing work,” he explained. “The brain cannot separate pleasure and laughter from the information that it’s gaining. So after you’re done reading, you’ll still be attracted to information about your life’s calling because your brain thinks it has gotten pleasure there.”
The book is also full of wisdom the comedian gleaned from his father. Fatherhood, the podcast host shared, is a topic he’s extremely passionate about.
“The moment I saw my first kid, I knew that I wanted what’s best for them. So ever since I started comedy, my desire has always been to help my kids be better. They are a significant influence on my comedy; I know God sent my kids, so I better be in line with what He’s called me to do. He’s the Father. I’m just a father trying to be the best I can for my children, including in my career,” he added.
Michael Jr., who attends Gateway Church in Dallas, is also gearing up for his upcoming tour. The comedian said he’s excited to get back on the road and “mix both comedy and real-life stories” in front of an audience.
“With this tour, we’re planning to go deeper into Funny How Life Works and comedy at the same time, because tension is comedy’s best friend. So if I talk about something that’s tension-filled and then go to the comedy, the comedy is even funnier but the stories are even better too.”
Whether he’s writing books or touring on the road, Michael Jr. said his walk with the Lord is the most important force in his life, driving his passion for God-glorifying comedy. By spending time in the Scriptures and in prayer, he strives to be obedient to the calling God has placed on his life.
“I’m always trying to make sure He’s on the inside so I can hear Him, do what He says and see what happens,” he shared. “I really believe that whatever goes into your ear gate and your eye gate is going to be what goes into the heart and then revealed in your walk. I try to be very, very sensitive to what I am allowing to go into my heart, and then it just shows up on stage. It’s not a matter of trying to fix the output. It’s a matter of being strategic with the input.”