Brad Stine Has Issues: The only show on television where both points of view are given equal dignity, so we can mock them both! That’s what I love about liberty and justice for all.
Today’s first issue on the docket: Going Green!
We hear a lot about going green. But, come on folks, what does it mean? When I was a kid, we had a Jolly Green Giant… which was good. Because, if you ever find yourself alone in a dark alley with a giant, you better pray he’s jolly!
We had a talking green frog… that was in love with a pig.
That’s right, we were way ahead of the transgender folks! We saw that coming in the 60’s!
So, what am I saying?
Basically, going green, back in the day, only meant one thing: you were a freak of some kind, a giant, or a pig loving frog!
Well, guess what? Those who are extremists still have a freakish nature. And, if we go, the planet doesn’t give a rip. Because it doesn’t know we left. People disappear, and the planet’s still hanging around, making hurricanes, and earthquakes, and forest fires… and eventually, the lizard people from below the center of the earth will come out and repopulate.
What? None of you have seen Land of the Lost?
Now, God expects us to honor our environment because He gave it to us. That was in Genesis. (I mean the post-Genesis, after Peter Gabriel)
And the “green people” have become cult-like fanatics which never turns out well:
(“News Archive”): Religious leader, Jim Jones, took 900 followers to a remote island and had them drink poisoned Kool-Aid. They all died. Tithing dropped dramatically the following week.
Leave it to Jim Jones to ruin Kool-Aid for everybody!
I’ll tell you what will keep you from littering again: Sweep up a parking lot after closing. Once your eco footprint steps in a used diaper over a smashed beer bottle, “Give a Hoot Don’t Pollute” just isn’t strong enough language!
Wait a minute. If nature is our “mom”, she needs to be a better example. She litters all the time. Look at all the tree branches she scatters around the forest, making it hard for us to find the asphalt hiking paths we made to honor our being out in nature. Every stinking fall, she throws her leaves everywhere, and then I have to clean them up because she’s too lazy to do it herself!
Bring down lighting from heaven, mother!
Alright, so let me get this straight… cuz I don’t want to put my trash in the wrong bin, and cause the trash to feel bad about itself.
Black can for trash. Blue for recycling. Green for greens. Red for dismembered bodies. Orange for stuff you bought in Florida and decided to throw away. Turquoise for things for eBay and Craigslist. Pink and blue speckled ampersand sign for transgendered trash. (That’s right… paper that identifies as a banana peel)
So, in conclusion, some of you may be thinking, “Hey, we’re all on this planet together and we are all entitled to our own point of view. What… do you think your philosophy is better than a green-lovin’-recycle-fanatic-big-government-espousing-worshipper-of-nature? Huh?!”
Yeah… pretty much.
It’s a Daren Streblow Comedy Show First this week… two sisters, one host and unlimited laughs! The O’Brien Sisters, Jennifer and Robin, are improv artists, stand up artists, sketch comedy artists, and moms… they do it all!
They’ve been working together ever since they were kids… then again, back then it was pretty much just Jennifer and Robin in a room wearing wigs they stole from their grandmother. Bottom line is, even as little girls, the two of them simply thrived on receiving attention. One of their first sketches they ever did was a Country Time Lemonade bit they created at a family get together. They created a commercial, even wrote and sang an original jingle. Then, at the end of the commercial, they had a friend of theirs drink the tasty Country Time… and he died.
So, even at a young age, the two of them were excited about laughing at death.
Jennifer officially started doing stand up in her early 20’s as a college drop out and single mom. She was basically looking for a creative outlet to express her life choices and quickly realized that there were paying audiences out there who would pay her money to hear about her poor decisions. At that same time, Robin was working in the TV/Film industry with roots in radio, which she began by begging her way into doing a 3:00am radio show while still in high school!
Now, I have two sisters who are also hilarious. There are times when we are laughing so hard my stomach literally aches from laughter. But I couldn’t get them on stage if their lives depended on it! So, for me, it’s such a thrill to see the O’Brien Sisters doing comedy together!
It’s just a shame that after performing together for all these years that they absolutely hate each other. 😉
But, in all seriousness, the two of them are best friends, and most of all, are able to be completely honest and transparent with one another. This means that they can go straight for one another’s jugulars… in a loving and compassionate way!
The hard truth is that the two of them are not strangers to pain. They’ve actually been through quite a bit in life, and they are very open about that, even on stage. Particularly regarding single motherhood, they actually discuss many of the tricks, trials, and trips they’ve been on as single moms.
Robin has been surprised at the reception she has received from Christian audiences, who tend to want to mourn with her, not recognizing that she’s at the point where she can talk about it, laugh about it, and even wants others to laugh with her about it.
But, neither of them would be where they are – content with all things that life has thrown their way and that they’ve thrown back – if it weren’t for their relationships with Jesus Christ. They know that everything they’ve been given is a gift from God, which makes every laugh, every moment, every day they have here on earth extremely valuable! Not to mention, that God and His word helps provide some boundaries for their comedy and their life choices. So, today, they are able to freely be comedians without any regrets… without ever fearing if they crossed a line that shouldn’t have been crossed.
Check out more of their amazing stuff including their YouTube channel, radio show, and so much more at OBrienSisters.com!
Next up, the absolutely hysterical Kay Dodd joins the show in need of a little help. She called in from the incredibly hot ATL… Atlanta, Georgia. And the summer temperatures haven’t been helping at all with her weight loss struggles. She’s tried Weight Watchers (which she believes is nothing but a cult). Her sponsor would talk about reaching 27 Weight Watcher points in a day… but Kay would always be racking up high scores of 42, hoping to win a prize! (And that was just breakfast)
So, instead of feeling down every week by not reaching her goals of losing weight, she started setting her sights on gaining weight, and since doing that, she has felt like a champion every week!
Kay actually came up with her own diet: The Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Diet. While on it, she didn’t loose a single ounce, but she was never, ever cranky, either!
When she first started working comedy clubs, she was a little, itty bitty size two comedian. Since switching to clean comedy and performing at more churches, she is still a 2… she has just added an X to the number. That’s all.
Truth be told, a while back she did loose 45 pounds! That’s right… she lost a third-grader! She quickly went from a 20 to a 12 in just nine months. But, since then, she’s gone from a 12 to a 16. Those free hotel breakfasts will get you every time! There’s only so many Twinkies you can fit in your coffee cup and sneak them back to your room.
Kay realized that she needs to find a way to burn calories… so she set fire to a carrot cake!
Keep up on Kay Dodd’s adventures and encourage her on her weight loss journey at KayDodd.com!
Ed Wiley kicks off our show by calling in from deep in the country. As should be expected from a comedian / goat farmer.
But, Ed’s problems go back farther than his recent comedy dates or goat misgivings. They go back to when he wanted to take things with his then-girlfriend to “the next level”. There they were, gazing into one another’s eyes from across the table at IHOP. And over a mile-high stack of chocolate chip pancakes, Ed mustered the courage to tell her, “I think you are an attractive sister-in-Christ, and I’d like to continue interacting with you.” And with that one statement, Ed was transformed from a nerdy spiritual romantic into a telephone customer service agent. All that was left for him to do was ask for a call back number in the event that the two of them got disconnected… and of course, the brief survey before she concluded their interaction.
That’s how they began their relationship, and it’s continued like that even through marriage. Just the other day, he tried to shoot a smoldering look at her from across the room. She wasn’t even aware it was occurring until she got up and looked away from her phone for a second. With one glance, she locked eyes with his gaze and said, “Are you okay? Are you having a stroke?!”
“Yeah… a stroke of bad luck.”
But, knowing Ed and his wife, the hard truth (harder for her, I’m guessing) is that she’s crazy for him… or he drives her crazy… either way, they are a lot of fun to be around!
Next up, the beautiful and talented Jennifer O’Brien calls into the show, who recently moved into a new house! And ever since, her daughter has been begging for a dog. So, Jennifer conceded, so long as it was a rescue dog… since rescue pets are the height of trendiness these days. So, she went online to begin her pet adoption process. After three days of logging in, writing her essay containing her family history and desires for a pet, logging out, and beginning the whole process again and again, it dawned on her that she had just written the equivalent of a Masters Degree thesis on pet adoption. So, she did what so many other people do when they find herself in that same position…
She dropped out.
As Jennifer put it, “If I wasn’t going to finish regular college, there’s no way I was going to finish this one.”
Then, she found the DeVry Institute of pet adoptions… it’s called Craigslist!
All that effort makes Jennifer long for the good ol’ days when she could just take a stroll through a nice neighborhood and see a cute dog wagging its tail on the other side of a picket fence, then reach across the fence and make off with the dog, renaming it, and making it her own!
Sadly, her new dog barks incessantly and chews up everything. So, if you find yourself in the middle of the pet adoption process, be sure to check Georgia’s Craigslist and you may find this very dog available quite soon!
Finally, two dear friends join me to wrap up this week’s show to talk about a very special project: Kerri Pomarolli and Bob Smiley. I don’t normally have two comedians on the line together (for obvious reasons), but Bob made room in his busy schedule between performances and work out sessions (he just started a new French style of exercise called Lamaze… it apparently involves a lot of heavy breathing.)
Kerri: Bob, I don’t know what your strategy is, but a Lamaze class is definitely not the right place for you to meet women.
Bob: Well, I don’t think I’m going to stick with it. Everyone there is totally out of shape.
Kerri: And most of them are taken, Bob. I don’t know if you got that memo or not.
Bob: That explains why all the women were ignoring me.
These two recently began a new tour that is gaining a lot of ministry attention. Over the past few years, both of them have gone through very painful divorces that neither of them asked for. Yet, both of them work primarily at churches and Christian retreats and have received very interesting feedback as they have remained quite transparent about their divorces.
Bob: I was surprised because I thought that churches would be against me coming in and talking about divorce and telling people that God can get you through anything – even the end of a marriage. Now, I’ve been divorced for three years and have been talking about it for the last two, and I haven’t received any negative feedback at all. In fact, quite the opposite, people have been very encouraging.
Kerri: I feel like Bob is our Norma Rae for Christian comedians who happen to be single. He’s a pioneer. And he gave me some really good advice a while back. I was at a point where I had nothing funny to say about my divorce. It was all tragic. And he told me that I didn’t have to talk about it until I was good and ready. In fact, through God’s faithfulness and the support and encouragement from Bob and others, I can finally say out loud “I am single… and I’m okay.”
Single Is Not A Four Letter Word is the name of the tour that the two of these dear friends of mine are on where they use comedy and encouragement to minister to the newly single or people who have been single for a while.
Bob: You know, I grew up in a church where, if you were divorced, you were shunned and without value in the congregation, but the reception that I have received since opening up about my divorce has been so encouraging. And let me tell you, raising three kids as a single dad is not easy. You have to teach them how to do things like washing the laundry, or cleaning the dishes… which we can do pretty easily at my house, since we have a huge swimming pool!
Kerri: I wish he was kidding, Daren. You’d be appalled by what goes on at Bob’s house!
Bob: You know what we did last week? We strapped duct tape to the bottom of our shoes and played tag all over the house… that way none of us had to vacuum!
Now, as these two take the stage together, there have been more than a few rumors that they might make a good couple.
Bob: No… no way. When I talk to someone who I’m interested in romantically, I want them to listen, not to just wait until I’m finished so they can upstage me with a better punchline.
Kerri: And I’m looking for someone with a 401k and a secure future, which eliminates all comedians right off the bat.
And, on top of NOT being romantically interested in one another, another thing they have in common is their love and devotion to Jesus Christ and God’s will for their lives.
Bob: I’m constantly amazed at how, when you remain focused on God’s will for your day, even when you find yourself in the middle of a day that you don’t think you can make it through, He will shower you with blessings that will encourage you and push you through! I faced days of real depression, accompanied by my kids’ broken hearts and disillusionment. Yet, every time I thought I was about to hit rock-bottom, a Christian friend would call with a word of encouragement, or God would show up in some other way. I’ve just learned to keep my eyes focused on God and He gets me through even the toughest of times.
Kerri: I really thought that I was going to be on OkayCupid.com before the ink dried on my divorce papers because of nothing else but the fear that ran through me each day, especially the fear of being alone. But, it hasn’t been that way at all. Time and time again, it’s been like God has spoken to me and simply said, “Don’t fear, Kerri. I’ve got you!” Whether it’s been through His word in the Bible, through friends who have come up alongside me, or even financially with gigs that have come out of nowhere to help provide for me and my girls… He has never left my side! God is faithful!
This week’s show is kicked off with first-time caller, funnyman Lee Hardin!
Lee has been having some trouble as of late with his decision making. For example, he recently received a “wrong number text” on his phone that read:
Hey, Babe. Can you pick up the kids after school?
Now, hindsight being 20/20, he should have replied, “You’ve texted the wrong number. Sorry”. However, instead, he texted: “Yes.”
His phone quickly pinged with the reply, “Thanks! You’re the best!”
At this point, Lee really, REALLY should have texted back, “I’m just kidding. You’ve got the wrong number.” But, being the kind of bad-decision maker that he is, Lee simply replied, “I know.”
So, when the message “I love you” quickly came across his screen, Lee realized he was too far into this dialogue to turn back now and typed, “Love you, too!”
Maybe it was the comfort that Lee felt, as he was doing so well in this fake relationship of his. He just couldn’t stop himself. It just feels good to exchange “I love you’s”.
After an hour or so, though, his conscience got the best of him. He couldn’t continue living this lie, so he texted the unsuspecting wrong number:
“Hey… I’m so sorry. I feel terrible. You actually texted the wrong number. I’m a terrible person for not admitting this earlier. So, SO sorry… Do you still want me to pick up your kids?”
You can imagine Lee’s surprise when they said, “Yes!”
And that’s when the relationship ended.
What’s sad is that Lee never found out where to pick them up at. So, somewhere in America, in some school parking lot, there are some kids waiting for someone to pick them up. It’s been over a year now, and those poor abandoned children must be realizing that 1) their ride isn’t coming and 2) their parents are severely bad judges of character when it comes to “wrong number text recipients”.
But, when it comes to baby steps in learning how to serve and love someone else, it appears as though Lee is making progress!
Next up, we are on the line with Canadian comedian Matt Falk:
Daren Streblow: The Fourth of July, Independence Day, just passed, so what better way to wrap up this week’s show than to have a citizen of Her Majesty, the Queen on with us – Canadian Matt Falk!
Matt Falk: I should clear something up before we go on, Daren… we let you Americans win. See, we’re so polite that half-way through the war of 1776, we were like, “If these guys loose, it’s really going to damage morale over there. So, we poured a little tea, we took a vote, and decided, “Let’s let them have this one.”
We honestly didn’t think you guys would make it as a country, so kudos to you!
Daren: I gotta tell you… this is a really different story than what they teach us in our American classrooms.
Matt: Well, history can be altered by textbooks, as we all know.
Daren: So, tell me about your latest project – Generational Gap. I’m guessing you discuss the various differences between the generations of our culture?
Matt: Exactly. You got it. Titles of Things and What They Mean on the next Geraldo!
Daren: Now, I’ve noticed that each older generation has a long list of complaints about the generations that follow them:
And younger generations counter with one criticism that trumps everything their elders might list off:
Matt: Yeah, I get that. In fact, I approached this whole subject from a somewhat bitter perspective to begin with. Because, I am a millennial and the only thing I’ve ever heard from baby boomers has been complaints about my generation.
Daren: Now, that’s not fair. Generation X’ers complain about you, too!
Matt: That’s true. There are a whole lot of people who complain about us. But here’s my point: I’ve heard it said before that, “The person who complains about a generation forgets about the generation who raised them.”
So, I think that we have a lot more in common than we are willing to initially admit.
Then again, there are some distinctive differences: from the way we act online; to the way we sleep. Baby boomers are phenomenal nappers!
My theory is this: The older you get, the better you become at napping. Until, eventually you get so good at it that you simply don’t wake up.
That’s the ultimate goal – to sleep forever!
Check out Matt Falk. He’s got a great website and a great career. Make sure that you’re updated with his work at mattfalkcomedy.com. (or you older generations can find him on Google Play)
This week, I’m coming to you from Kalispell, Montana with my dear friend, funnyman and ventriloquist, David Pendleton… and of course, the 94 year-old spinster, Aunt Tilly! And, we are taking questions from our audience.
Q: How old were you when you started comedy?
Daren: Well, define “start comedy”. Is it a wanted thing? Because I was trying it in kindergarten, but I’d quickly find myself facedown in the mud in the middle of the playground from people who didn’t want it. But, professionally, I started when I was 26.
David: I started very young.
Aunt Tilly: I think his parents dropped him on his head when he was a baby.
David: I actually started learning how to be a ventriloquist when I was six-years-old. I had a vinyl record that taught me how to do it. (that’s an old sound recording device that you’d put a needle on and it would go around and around making sound). Anyway, it was called Instant Ventriloquism by Jimmy Nelson, who used to Nestlé’s Chocolate commercials back in the day. And, I did my very first performance when I was eight-years-old.
Q: How old are you now?
Daren: I am 46.
Aunt Tilly: You’re old enough to know better… too young to resist!
David: I’m actually 53.
Aunt Tilly: Oh my… you are old!
Q: What is the strangest place you’ve ever performed?
Daren: Well, I’m from Minnesota, so I’ve been hired to perform at several unique places. I once performed at an ice rink… in the dark, during a snow storm. I’ve also done a lady’s bridal shower. I’m a man who saw what happens on the inside of those things, and I lived to tell the tale… but I’m still not ready to talk about it.
David: I once performed at a bowling alley… while people were still bowling. With all the pins falling and balls rolling and bowlers cheering and jeering, no one could hear a word I was saying.
Daren: Were you invited there, or did you just saunter in and start doing your thing in the midst of the bowling crowd?
Q: David, where did you get your Wooded Americans?
David: Well, Aunt Tilly was actually made for me by a woman named Verna Finley, who actually used to do work on The Muppets years ago. I learned about Verna at a ventriloquist convention.
Daren: What would a ventriloquist convention be like?
David: It is a very fascinating place.
Daren: Yes, I’m sure everyone there is very mentally sound.
David: So, Verna made Aunt Tilly for me, and quick-witted trouble maker Mack Elroy
was originally created in 1938. He’s had a little work done over the years, but his original luster and look has never changed. They only made a few dozen Mack Elroys in the 1930’s, and good ol’ Mack is actually the only one still performing today. All the others are held in private collections and museums.
Daren: So, while you were playing with your dolls, was your sister fixing the car, or what?
Q: What kind of dog is the dopey yet adorable Buford?
David: I don’t think he knows, actually.
Daren: I don’t think he knows that he’s a dog.
David: Quite true
Daren: I had a little girl come up to me after one of our shows recently. She said her favorite puppet was Buford the dog. “I like him because he’s soft… and stupid.” That was her endearing description of her favorite.
My family recently hosted a German teacher as part of an exchange program for three weeks. Not a foreign “student” exchange, but teacher. My wife is a teacher as well, so the two of them – my wife and Simone – have a lot to talk about.
At first, I was very nervous about the whole affair. Three weeks is a long time for someone to stay at our home. Even my own sister can only last two days before she reaches her maximum tolerance and has to leave.
But we were offered a lot of information to prepare ourselves with. For instance, according to one of the brochures, students who come to America from Europe are often a mere two-to-three hour drive from another country. So, their sense of travel is a bit skewed compared to American culture. Sometimes, they become a little frustrated with their host families, if they can’t take an afternoon and drive from Minnesota to the Grand Canyon.
Before Simone arrived, my kids had a ton of questions about how they should behave and what to expect. A couple days before her arrival, we saw a German store and they had the idea of buying her some German candy. I, however, thought this was a terrible idea. I was certain that she would be nothing but disappointed. Why would we offer her the experience of feeling like she was at a corner convenience store back home picking up a chocolate bar, especially when she came all the way across the Atlantic to experience American life?
What I have learned that I love most about Simone staying with us is her German accent. She – and most people from other non-English speaking countries – have a real hard time saying the word “squirrel”. But, they think it’s hilarious. There are even YouTube videos dedicated to German students trying to say the word.
Think about how easy it would have been to root out German spies during WWII…
“Look! Up in the tree! There’s a fluffy grey… what are they called?”
Our houseguest doesn’t have this problem, though. She’s actually amazingly intelligent. She speaks six languages – three of them perfectly fluently. She even speaks English much more better than I do.
So, my kids were asking what they could do with Simone. They wanted to play games with her…
“Dad, can we play chess with her?”
“Axis and Allies?”
“NO! No, no, no!!!”
So, I buried the game in my neighbor’s yard before she got here.
Next, my good buddy Greg Hahn joins me from backstage, as he prepares for his stand up routine by memorizing his sixteen new jokes. Greg has been a professional comedian for over twenty years. Now, when some people boast about doing their chosen profession for over twenty years, there is a sense of pride in their voice. But, when Greg tells people he’s been at it for 22 years, he’s pensive, as he waits for the reply, “…then you should be WAY better at it than you are!”
Now, when Greg takes the stage, his energy level is so off the charts, he is simply captivating – which shows the development of his talents. When he was younger, instead of being captivating, he was more of an annoyance who drove people out of the comedy clubs as quickly as they could settle their checks and run!
Greg’s come a long way since his career in the Marines (or some may say he has gone backward a long way). Rising up to the rank of Captain, Greg enjoyed the military environment where everyone dressed the same, everyone spoke the same, and communication was clear and concise. But, when it came time to let loose, it was hard to find anyone as open and free to let loose and laugh as a room full of Marines.
In his current line of work, he’s learned that performing for corporate crowds is the exact opposite. They are typically very buttoned up and hard to get a laugh out of. At most corporate events, the people aren’t there for the comedy. They are usually there to receive an award, have hors d’oeuvres, and kiss up to their bosses. From a comedian’s point, there is much more work in winning them over.
Greg has an advantage in these moments, though, because his brand of comedy is so over the top, out of control, that in contrast to the boring, monotone statistics the audience had been hearing at the breakout sessions all day, Greg completely rocks their world with jokes!
As Greg says (or screams) in his corporate event pitch: “PUT ME IN FRONT OF YOUR PEOPLE. WHAT COULD GO WRONG!!!???”
Daren: Joining me this week is my long-time friend, host of the Bananas television program, seen on many of the Thou Shalt Laugh series and not a part of a brand new that’s coming out, I’m very excited to have him on. Thor Ramsey, welcome back to the show sir, how are you?
Thor: I’m good Daren, It’s always a pleasure to chat with you my friend.
Daren: Yeah? What makes it pleasant chatting with me? I want to know because my wife doesn’t always feel that way so I’m just curious.
Thor: I think it’s just because she takes Minnesotans for granted then, because you’re nice, fine, friendly, and kind people over there. It’s the Minnesota friendship which I was taught the last time I was there, in fact I was there recently, and anyone will give you directions, if not to there home.
Daren: There’s a limit to our friendliness.
Thor: It’s discerning friendship that’s what it is.
Daren: It doesn’t go much deeper than self-righteousness, but it’s there, and it’s kind of pleasant if you stay on that side. You just gotta know what side to stay on. You’re a mid-westerner originally, Nebraska right, and then you moved to L.A I believe a long time ago.
Thor: L.A is very much more impressive than saying “Canyon Lake, California” Where most people are like “Where is that?” Lets just say Los Angeles. When those lights are shinning it looks like the spotlights looking for prisoners but they’re really looking for stars, we live right there, we live right under that light that’s shinning to highlight George Clooney’s face.
Daren: Do you ever run into people out there, like at the grocery store and go “That’s a famous person”
Thor: You do actually, to be honest.
Daren: And that’s why you live there right, because you worship those people.
Thor: Exactly, you wanna go to a public men’s room and go “Look who I’m standing next to, amazing”
Daren: You are no “Respecter of Persons” You love everybody.
Thor: We went to a theatre and we brought our daughter. Disney has these premiers in a theatre next to Grauman’s, It’s a famous movie theatre but they do these big production shows before the movie itself comes out, and I was going to the restroom and there was a famous person right next to me. You kind of joke about it, you say “There he is”
Daren: Did you say hi to Leland or did you wait till later?
Thor: No that was a Canadian premier of the twentieth episode of the Trailer Park Boys.
Daren: But speaking of famous, speaking of you, this movie, Youth Group movie, tell me all about it, do you call it Youth Group Movie or Youth Group, what’s the title now?
Thor: It’s called Youth Group, and it’s a movie. You can call it Youth Group The Movie and that way we will be the definitive movie about youth groups forever.
Daren: Well, to distinguish you among the many thousands of movies about youth groups is pretty pioneering, a look at youth groups from your prospective, and I understand you wrote it.
Thor: I did, I wrote this about eight years ago, I wrote a script called Youth Group, it’s a comedy about a youth pastor in crisis. What I started doing since I wrote the script I thought “Let me get together, let me network with other people who want to make films. So I started networking with a group of people, I mean it’s Los Angeles, everyone has a camera, you wanna make a film then you just need to meet up with your Starbucks barista and they’re in your crew! Once they help you with your film then you’ll help them with their film. Long story short, we made these short films, there’s a thing out here called the 168 Film Festival, it’s a Christian based film festival where you have a week to write, shoot, and edit a ten-minute movie. I think we made about six or seven of those together, the director of Youth Group Christopher Shaw, him and I had worked on these short films together, so we got a crew together for one day and everyone basically works for free, they were really working for granola bars and one Subway sandwich that everyone shared. So we shot a trailer, we took some scenes and we shot two minutes of a trailer that you can see online. Now, the movie didn’t exist yet, but we shot the trailer because a lot of times when you’re pitching a movie to people it’s better to show them.
Daren: When you were shooting this, did you actually plan on making a movie or was it a kind of a “Make em’ laugh with the trailer kind of thing” And it grew out of that?
Thor: No, we wanted to make the movie, so we shot the trailer to try to get investors, it’s an industry, it’s a business so even if you want to do it for what ever reason you want to make your movie for, and we were just trying to make a funny movie set in the Christian evangelical world, that was our goal.
Daren: Kind of an un-explored world, wouldn’t you say?
Thor: I think so, and even when they have explored it they’ve explored it from and outsiders’ perspective and they always get it wrong, like they are apart of this world and we love these people, we’re not making fun of these people. There’s tenderness in all the comedy and that’s were you want to pour the comedy and the laughter. So this was about eight years ago, I go from stand up comedy which I started in 1987 and I still do comedy events but long story short I was a part of a church plant and this was around the time I was working on the script. I was a part of a church plant, I was not the lead pastor but I was just one of the elders. We moved to the city Redlands with the lead pastor to help plant the church and that church is running strong now. I started preaching once a month basically and there’s this thing, like, if you’re not doing what God calls you to do you’re just not gonna find it fulfilling.
So, for me, preaching started taking up my desire instead of stand up. I still do stand up… and I’m still hilarious! (sarcastic humble brag). But, as I started preaching nearly every Sunday, it made it impossible to travel around and do stand up on Saturday nights.
To make a long story short, the buddy of mine who put together the trailer together – Christopher Shaw – was a social media madman! I thought he was overdoing it, but it turned out that Chris’ tweets caught the eye of Stephen Baldwin!
After seeing our trailer, Stephen asked for a couple meetings with us, which was absolutely surreal! We were in the middle of Los Angeles, on the rooftop café at a quaint little L.A. hotel, meeting with Stephen Baldwin who had just come from a meeting with Mel Gibson about one of his projects, and in the middle of it, Stephen’s daughter walked up to us with her friends who happened to have acted on Hannah Montana (which was one of my daughter’s favorite shows), and they wanted to talk to Stephen real quick before jaunting over to Will Smith’s house to hang out with Will’s son.
The sensation was the same as if someone were to ask you, “Did you just see that kangaroo hopping down the street on a pogo stick bouncing a basketball on its head?”
I don’t believe that I just witnessed that… but yeah, I think I actually did just see that!
That’s what our Stephen Baldwin meeting was like.
But, for Stephen and his family, this was simply everyday life.
Anyway, Stephen and his manager loved our script. It was the comedy they had been looking for. So they shopped it around. They shopped it around for three years!
In those three years, I transitioned to preaching every week. Stand up comedy was pretty much in my rear view mirror (albeit sometimes just in the back seat). Nonetheless, my identity of being a “famous” stand up comedian within the Christian sub-culture of America was a thing of the past. My own popularity and success wasn’t a concern of mine at all anymore.
In fact, I remember standing in my kitchen and praying, “God, only have this movie made if it brings glory to you. Not me.”
What’s incredible is that years before that moment, I would have hung my entire career and identity on that one script. But, God had molded me and matured me away from that.
And shortly after that, we received a phone call saying that the film was fully funded!
We shot it last July, and it was such an incredible experience. Yet, no one ever really realizes what all it takes to get a movie made until they are part of it. (sometimes even when they are a part of it).
Seriously, just getting a movie completed is a miracle, itself!
But, by God’s grace, it’s completed and now we are in the process of working out distribution.
Daren: Youth Group, THE MOVIE! You can follow along with the film’s progress and see Thor’s teaser trailer on Youth Group’s Facebook page.
Daren: My guest today is one of my media heroes, she’s a best selling author, and a Fox news network anchor on shows such as The Five, Out numbered, Happening Now, and America’s News Room. As an Actress shoes appeared on a lot of motion pictures and television series but is best known for her role as Micheal Landons’s daughter Cassandra Cooper Ingalls in Little House on The Prairie, and she’s the author of the new book Lessons From the Prairie: The Surprising Secrets to Happiness, Success, and (Sometimes Just) Survival I Learned on America’s Favorite TV Show. She is Melissa Francis, I’m so glad to have you on here Melissa.
Melisa: Thank you.
Daren: So A little book about lessons from Little House on The Prairie, You know, I was a big fan of the show as a kid, even during the big confusing episodes like when they blew up the entire town.
Melisa: That was probably one of the biggest episodes of all time, some say it was explosive.
Daren: I kept waiting for it to be some kind of a dream sequence, like they wake up and its all better. But it was a fantastic show, it gripped so many people. I notice that there are some television stars that don’t really cherish the shows that put them on the map, they kind of resent the show that made them famous, But you seem to have a lot of affection for Little House on the Prairie, What accounts for that.
Melissa: I kind of talk about that in the book a little bit, it starts out in the first chapter, I’m coming out of the packed studio, we sit around the couch and kind of work in a fish bowl quite literally, we’re surrounded by glass, and people would kind of come by and they would tap on it like we’re guppies, and they see really horrible things like what my feet look like in person, they’re gnarled and hideous, I have bunions, it’s so bad, and people say when I talk about this “How bad can your feet be?” And I say “I’m gonna spare you cause then people would be vomiting because they are so bad” But they make me human, its god’s way of reminding me that underneath all the makeup and hair I’m really horrible, so I’m like okay, thank you. But anyway I come walking out of that studio, and people are nice enough that there’s a little walk way, where we make our way o the main building, and people hang out there and they’re kind enough to ask us for autographs and selfies with us, and one day we come out and one of them said “oh we want to take a picture with you” And I said ”I don’t think I’m who you think we are” I mean all the blondes at Fox look the same, our dresses look the same, and I say “Wait for the lady behind me she’s a lot more famous” And the woman said to me “Oh no Melissa, I know just who you are, you’re the girl in Little House on the Prairie” And it still surprises me to this day, mainly because obviously they dyed my hair brown when I was a child and I’ve always been a natural blonde, but beyond that I’m surprised that people still remember it, and I spent a lot of time like you said running away from that, you know, wanting to reinvent myself and prove myself as a different person, I went to Harvard and I studied economics, I went into news. I did all these different things, and it took me a while to realize that so many of the fantastic things that I embrace in my life now, from faith, to family, to resilience, to authenticity, to humility, these are lessons that I learned both behind the scenes and in front of the camera on Little House on The Prairie. Michael Landon, for all his personal foibles was an incredibly hard working, generous, and giving person.
Daren: That’s what I’ve heard.
Melissa: He was the first one here in the morning and he was the last one to leave at the end of the day, He rolled up his sleeve and he worked along side everyone. He was so tight with the buck, we was so smart, he was one of the first entrepreneurs in Hollywood, he understood that to make it in television you had to own the show, write it, produce it, star in it, the whole thing. That way he had a corner in all the profits. He called me “One Take Missy” Because I could get it done right the first time and he loved it because he wanted to save money on his films. He expected us to work like adults because we were making adult paychecks, but he made it so fun, we had a great time during lunch, but when it was time to work it was time for work, and I was talking to Melissa Gilbert recently and she said the reason why she thinks none of us ended up robbing a dry cleaners or going to rehab, its because he taught us this, the pride in getting a pay check with your name on it, the pride in an honest days work where you’re putting together something that people care about and love, how good that feels, not to be on the government dole, but to be someone, that you’re earning for your family. We learned some very valuable lessons, and my good friend Megan Kelly, we were having dinner one time and she said “You have so many funny stories but if you look underneath them, you have so many traditional values that there’s a way to put that in a book.
Daren: And you did.
Melissa: I make fun of myself for a few pages, and when you’re done laughing at the pies I’ve taken to the face there are some really valuable, traditional, authentic, sincere lessons.
Daren: Absolutely, it’s kind of amazing too because you were pretty young during the filming of the show that you would glean all these lessons. I understand you got the job at little house because unlike a lot of the other kids auditioning you were the only one who could cry tears on queue, how did you pull that off?
Melissa: A lot of complaining at home, a lot of tantrums, an older sister who stole stuff from me, a lot of practice hosing my parents, you know, I mean I could turn em’ on in an instant, in fact there’s this story I tell in the book where my son, he was five or six at the time, he throws himself on the ground in the kitchen and he’s wailing and crying and beating his fists and I just look at him and yawn, and I’m like “You know, I appreciate the effort, but what you’re doing there, that is horrible, and that is very bad acting, and when I was your age I could produce real tears on a dime and I made good money doing it” Instantly he was like “What, you got paid for this?” And I’m like “No not for that, I didn’t get paid for that, what you’re doing there is awful, but I got paid for doing a good job with the tantrums” And he was all ears, he was like “ What?!” And I’m like “Yes” And I showed him the tapes and I was like “ That was my trick, I could produce convincing tears on the dime” The way I did it is not kosher as acting goes, I would imagine that my own pets were dying, I would imagine terrible things in real life and acting, if your method, you’re supposed to be the character and you’re imagining that you are that person, but that’s too complex for an eight year old, so I would picture, like especially in the opening scene, the wagon goes over the hill and it crashes into shreds and my parents are in it, and obviously it great news for me because I become an Ingalls, but really it’s supposed to be bad news that my actual parents are dying, so I pictured my cat princess going over the hill, my dog Casey, these are my real life pets, I would imagine my fish Neptune was in a bowl that smashed into shreds, like I’m picturing my pets going through carnage, and I’m wailing and crying. When it was over they were like “That was a great job” And I’m like “ I just really want to go home and make sure my pets are alive cause I’ve traumatized myself”
Darren: I don’t know if it was after or during but you’ve done a lot of TV commercials too and I just wanted to mention one of them is burned into my brain from countless hours of watching Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of sugary cereal, the Kellogg’s O.J. Cereal “That there is O.J Joe, rounding up oranges for Kellogg’s” That is burned into my brain, there’s a crease about two inches deep, cause they played that every two seconds. You must’ve sold millions of dollars worth of cereal.
Melissa: I sold a lot of cereal, I sold Frosted Flakes as well, I did a commercial where I was running hurdles and I say “They’re great!” And I ate, and the funny part about that is that I sincerely loved Frosted Flakes, but when you’re doing a commercial, You take a big bite and you have this huge bucket next to you and you’re supposed to spit out the cereal because you do so many takes that a normal child would get sick or vomit, but I liked the frosted flakes so much that I wouldn’t spit it out, and they would say “She’s gonna get sick” And I’m like “No, no I’m good, keep the frosted flakes coming” And they’re like “Wow she’s gonna get fat” And I’m like “Well what ever, it’s one day” But I probably ate three or four boxes a day, and while my teeth hurt a lot, when it was over my stomach was very happy.
Daren: Now you mention in the book that experiencing a lot of T.V. work as a child didn’t necessarily help you as a T.V. anchor. Why is that?
Melissa: I’ve talked to other people who do plays and acting who then went into news and realize that it actually hurts you because here’s the thing, When you’re doing any kind of acting, first, all the words are written for you, it’s nothing that you’re thinking of on the spot, second, you rehearse like a million times, like with little house on the prairie we would rehearse a whole bunch of times because Michael Landon didn’t want to waste any expensive film, so you rehearse, you practice, there’s a million people standing around, everyone’s fixing your hair, they’re checking your lines, they’re doing your wardrobe. You memorize your lines before you go out there you practice, and by the time the cameras role, it’s cemented into your brain, but when you’re doing news especially at the local level, the first time I was ever live they fired me out the door at the state capital in Concord New Hampshire, and here I am, I’m with a photographer, I’ve never been live on television, I’m alone, I’ve done my own hair and makeup rather poorly, No ones told me what to say. I’m covering the story, I have to have it ready to go when the camera comes to me, we’ve done no rehearsals, we’re under the gun, I mean it’s very much like that nightmare you have where you show up at school for the test and you’ve never been to that course and you don’t have any clothes on, it’s like that. Especially when you’re used to being prepared it feels like you haven’t prepared for what you have ahead of you, and so I looked into the black lens, cause that’s all you see when you’re live is a black camera lens and they tossed me back at the studio “Melissa Francis is live in Concord with the latest” And they come to me and I look and my heart sunk and my throat closed. I’m not sure I said anything, I think it was like Charlie Brown when the teacher goes “Wah wah wah wah” That’s what I sounded like. I threw it back to the anchors so quickly, when I was done the photographer came out from behind the camera and he goes “Sit down, sit down, sit down where you are just sit down right there” because to him I looked like I was going to pass out and crack my head on the state house steps. I nearly threw up, it was awful, and I was terrible, and I was terrible for a while, in fact I got fired, that’s another story, but I got fired from that job cause I was so bad, and it really was because I was so used to being rehearsed that it was so hard to be live, cause in T.V. three camera live is not live! You still practiced for a week and it’s on tape, nothing’s live, so for me it was my worst fear coming true, but I made the transition, I was resilient, and I made it through, and the story of how I got over that, I’ve used it, I’ve done a few speeches on it and I made a lot of money off of that. It was one of those things where it was very, very hard to get up and running and I think worse for me than it was for people who had never been on television before, and it’s hard for people to understand but I run into people who were actors of some type, even if they were the star in their high school play and they found it to be a detriment when they tried to get into news and it’s really the truth.
Daren: And now you’re very successful on camera all the time, just fantastic. You know I’ve read a lot of self help books, I’ve needed them.
Melissa: Me too.
Daren: Your book doesn’t really have that sterile, self help book feel to it, it’s has really cool motivational ideals and super entertaining at the same time. Is that what you were shooting for or is that just kind of natural to who you are?
Melissa: I think that most self help books, when you read them you want to strangle the person who wrote them and I didn’t want to be strangled.
Daren: You’ve needed to survive, you’ve gone through some pretty hard stuff, the loss of your sister, being fired, being harassed by several bosses, health issues, terrifying child birth experiences. Can I just say I’m really sorry you had to go through all that.
Melissa: Thank you.
Daren: When you talk about that pain though I notice that you’re kind of framing them as positive turning points in your life. Is it your faith that motivates you to see pain that way?
Melissa: My faith has been a great source of strength and consistency through my life, always knowing that there was someone there walking along side of you no matter how lonely you feel. In the book I give my four steps for how to turn disaster into golden opportunity, and it’s something that I have used again and again that sincerely works for me and I have shared it with other people and it has helped them. That’s one of the main reasons I wrote the book, was to share a lot of those things.
Daren: It’s inspiring, and step one would be a surprise for a lot of people, tell them what step one is.
Melissa: Step one is to wallow in a giant boiling vat of self-pity, to really sit there and wail and cry, because if you don’t mourn the loss of what ever it is, it just festers. When you cry for a while you ultimately get bored and dehydrated, and from there you’re like “Now what” You get it out of you’re system. So then I get a big tub of Ice cream after I’m done with it, and I say “What can I replace my loss with, that’s even better than what I lost” There’s something satisfyingly cocky about saying to the boss of the job that fired you “You know what, I’m gonna do better than what I just lost, I’m gonna get something better” And you don’t believe it when you say it, believe me, it feels fake but say it enough times in the mirror and you’ll feel better, like when I got fired I said to myself “ You know what, I’m gonna get a new job and it’s gonna be in a bigger market than the one I just got fired from” And I set that goal, even though it feels crazy and risky, but you gotta do that in order to visualize what’s coming next, then you say to yourself “What is the first step in that direction” Not the whole thing because that’s overwhelming, and also things change along the way, but you say to yourself “What’s the first thing I can do in that direction” Maybe you need to get some therapy. For me it was to put together a resume tape, the first thing I needed to get a new job was to have a resume and a tape. Once you do one or two steps, before you know it, you’re getting your confidence back, but it’s too over whelming to look at the whole thing. When you finally get there, the fourth step is probably the most important one, you ask “What can I do differently in my life so that this doesn’t happen again” Now, you’re strong enough, you’ve gotten to a new place, you’ve built yourself back, it’s important to look back and say “What part of that disaster was my fault” or “ What can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen again” In the case when I was fired I had to get much better at my job, but I also realized I needed an agent, cause when that woman fired me she said “You’re too young to be working here in this market” You can’t say something like that it’s against the law. She wouldn’t have said that if there was someone behind me, but she saw me as someone who was powerless and young, and she was right, I was powerless and young so I said to myself “You know what, I need some protection” And in all these situations you look back. When my sister passed away it was a devastating thing and I talk a lot about it in the book and even in my last book Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter, I realized that when I got through the whole thing and built my life back, that I didn’t really dealt with the baggage of my childhood, and the thing that I learned was that I needed some therapy to deal with that, and I wasn’t gonna have kids of my own till I addressed what was wrong with my own childhood and how I could be a different parent, I didn’t know how to be a different parent, and I had a good sense to know that there was both good and bad in the way I was raised, But I didn’t have the wisdom to sort through what was the good stuff that I should copy and what was the bad stuff I shouldn’t do. I needed some therapy to work on that, and that was my take away. So when you get to step four, figure out what you need to change next time so that you don’t hit disaster again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to that and it works, especially when you’re sitting in that moment when you feel you want to jump off a bridge, and once you pick yourself up off the ground, the next time life knocks you to you your knees you know you can make it because you’ve gone through it before. I know I can build my life back because I’ve done it before, even though it doesn’t feel like that in the moment I know I can do it again, and that’s the gift god gives you, when you can overcome disaster, you know you have the strength next time to pick yourself up off the ground again, and that is the gift from god.
Daren: Let me quote to you from your book “As a teenager I would pray very specifically for the strength to find peace in my life” And then you say “That seems like an odd wish for a sixteen year old, and yet those exact words were my own private prayer, joy and happiness were too big of an ask, I just wanted to sleep soundly at night to get rid of the pit of my stomach of the uncertainty that haunted me” Now how is that quest for peace going for you?
Melissa: I hesitate to say, I found it, I found it, I found it through family and faith. I have a wonderful loving husband, who is more than I dreamed possible he’s so caring and generous, and we have three beautiful children that we love with all our hearts, work and career I love them but it means nothing compared to that family. When I sit in church on Sunday, that is what I thank god for, and that is what has given me peace and joy, is the love of my family, and I have found that through God and through my family.
Daren: That is so fantastic!
Joining me this week is musician, impersonator, comedian, and all-round great guy – Ed Wiley!
And, let me tell you, when it comes to making people laugh, Ed is amazing! It’s hard to believe he’s only been “playing the comedy game” for three years. His YouTube video of him impersonating President Trump as your Youth Pastor has been viewed over 80,000 times!
His Presidential impressionistic chops were honed back during the Bush (43) Administration, and he would goof around for friends or open up a corporate meeting here or there, but he lacked the vision, courage, and faith to jump into comedy full time. In fact, if it weren’t for a health scare and divine recalibration, the world may be without his comical musings today!
After spending a lot of time reading his Bible, especially in Galatians, Ed learned a lot about God’s grace. While he had been thoroughly taught about grace, it never really became “real” for him until around 2012. That was when he was liberated to venture into new frontiers in his life and following God’s guidance in a whole new way.
He began writing.
He began driving.
He began working on his comedic craft!
And, apparently, he spent a lot of time reading political papers, because his video of Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump going out on adventures is gut-splitting!
And, what sets Ed apart from so many other comedians these days is that he doesn’t mock our Heads of State. He teases them, but there is no cruelty tossed out at anyone. He is inspired by the comedic greats like Rich Little, Dana Carvey, and even Will Rogers when he impersonated President Calvin Coolidge in 1928! (and, reportedly, President Coolidge loved it!)
You can catch Ed’s musings at edwileycomedy.com, or you can see him live with Anita Renfroe as part of Prison Fellowship International’s Flat-Out Funny Tour.
I am on the road with my buddy Tim Hawkins. Even though it’s the eighth time together on air, it still feels new, despite our large body of work, as they say in the biz. We’re having a blast performing together… even when we can’t hear one another. For instance, the other night I could hardly hear a word he was saying, but I caught the words “Eye of Sauron” and KNEW he was making fun of my bald spot.
Oh, the little things that make us laugh!
Tim is moving on up in the comedy world. Working tiny rooms with a handful of people sitting in front of him not paying attention is in his rear view mirror. Now, he’s doing theater work! I’m still performing at a lot of churches these days, but Tim has had the opportunity to make an audience laugh without a giant wooden cross hanging three feet behind him. What a difference that makes when it comes to people loosening up and laughing!
It’s just a different vibe.
Yet, when we get to perform at churches, we can easily spend fifteen minutes just talking about the unique things in the room… because every church is funny looking in its own cool way, from creepy looking organs to drummers sitting inside aquariums.
One nice thing about working theaters, though, are the crew! They do shows like ours all the time and know exactly where to put everything and how to efficiently pull off a comedy show. But they don’t often know who we are. Just the other night, a girl apologized profusely that she didn’t know us from Adam… but made up for it by telling us that she laughed all night long!
I can’t imagine what it’s like for these guys to work an EDM concert one night and then a couple yokels telling jokes the next.
Tim’s act is really cool in that he picks a new partner every week to work with… despite the fact that he has no need at all to have anyone support him. He could easily perform for thousands all by himself, yet he takes the trouble and expense of bringing out guys like me alongside him.
But, according to him, it’s all self-serving. Having someone else there makes the show so much better. It all helps to make Tim, us, the audience… all of us feel so comfortable that it’s like we’re in Tim’s living room – just sitting on the couch listening, laughing, telling jokes, playing music and having fun together.
You can find out when and where Tim is coming to a town near you by checking out TimHawkins.net!
Next, world class comedian, world class ventriloquist, and world class friend David Pendleton joins me for some shenanigans! And this is just the beginning. David and I will be spending most of the month of May together, performing on stages all across Montana!
David is working with a new member of his “cast” – Sergeant Major Booyah… his brand new hands-free puppet! You read that right… hands-free puppetry!
He’s basically a robot. But, one that’s one-of-a-kind and works perfectly with David. He nods, makes facial expressions, and of course talks without David’s hands anywhere near his backside! He was made by genius Austin Phillips with incredible animatronics technology along with his love for old-school ventriloquism.
The trick for David is to eventually incorporate Sergeant Major Booyah as part of his cast of characters, without turning him into some sort of gimmick.
Until then, MacElroy , Aunt Tilly, Beuford the Dog Vern the Vulture will grace the stage along with David… guaranteed to bring laughs to all before we become Sergeant Major Booyah’s robot slaves!
And finally, funnyman Mike Williams calls into the show this week! Now, Mike complains about his age… he’s only 54, but he claims to be “high mileage”, meaning he has more miles on his treads than other 54-year-olds might. It’s a tough price to pay for fame! Mike performed at 102 different engagements last year, which also translates into a ton of frequent flyer miles!
Mike might be even more successful, if it weren’t for his highly developed skill of putting his foot in his mouth. For example, as Mike once heard,
“Life does not cease to be funny when people die anymore than life ceases to be serious when people laugh.”
Now, most people get the meaning of this quote whenever Mike mentions it. But, Mike has a knack of attracting people to his events who are wound a little bit tighter than a golf ball. And, in those cases, it doesn’t matter how light hearted of intent Mike has, once somebody has their panties in a bunch… it’s over, Johnny!
If only he had the ability to address each individual in his audience and say,
“Hello, my name is Mike Williams. Before I begin tonight’s show, I have a few questions: Have you recently lost a loved one in a school bus or train accident or a Chicken McNugget choking incident? Or would it be better that I run through each of my punchlines now – ahead of time – in order to verify that none of them will burden you with undue emotional strife??
Or, maybe people will just look at their ticket stub and remember that they bought a seat to a comedy show.