Just today I was watching CBS SUNDAY MORNING, a show I rarely if ever miss. There are a handful of people who are privileged to offer video editorials. None are that compelling – especially comedian JIM GAFFIGAN – who to put it in three words…just isn’t funny. Who and what’s funny is a close relative to what is and isn’t good music. It makes you laugh or it doesn’t with the former. And it moves you or doesn’t move you with the latter.
While I was watching Gaffigan struggle through yet another humorless editorial, it occurred to me that he might be Catholic. So I did a Google search on “celebrity Catholic comedians” and found just him and STEVEN COLBERT, who I find similarly without humor. And that was it! In the great multitude of comedians, there are just two Catholics – both of whom don’t make me laugh.
A few times in the recent past, people have asked me why I don’t volunteer at the Catholic Worker anymore. Sometimes, I tell a white lie: “It’s a dirty place where nobody wears gloves, hair nets or aprons. And I got poisoned there once from eating bad food which should have been thrown out.” While all that is true…it’s not really why I don’t volunteer there anymore.
Have you ever been in a social situation in which everybody is trying to make the next guy laugh? It can really be a lot of fun – unless one (or a few) of the people just aren’t funny! Well…at the Catholic Worker, there was a core of volunteers who were constantly trying to make each other laugh. And not one of them was funny.
It got really tiring for me. Faking laughter is kind of like lying. And not faking laughter is insulting to somebody who deludes himself into thinking he has a good sense of humor. It’s a rock and a hard place for the listener. When I laughed I felt like a whore. When I didn’t, people looked at me sideways.
At Trinity Church (where I assume most are protestant) and the Meatloaf Kitchen (where it’s a mix), there’s simply nobody constantly trying to entertain the other volunteers. That’s not to say somebody doesn’t say something clever every now and then. It’s simply not their minute to minute goal to entertain. And so…I don’t find myself being either a whore or curmudgeon – which is why I prefer volunteering at those two places.
Now back to the point: Am I prejudiced because I don’t find Catholics funny? Maybe. But I don’t think so. It didn’t occur to me that Jim Gaffigan might be Catholic until today. And I’d marveled at how unfunny he was for a while. Since Dave left and Steven Colbert replaced him, I’ve tried to like Colbert. I just don’t. He’s not funny – or cool. And until I Googled celebrity Catholic comedians today, I didn’t even know he’s Catholic. So all you Catholics out there…find me a funny Catholic, please, so I don’t feel like a bigot. This is killing me!
P.S. I know what you’re going to say. BILL MAHER is funny – and Catholic. But he’s only half Catholic. And he’s half Jewish! I can’t help but think it’s the Jewish side that makes him funny because I’ve thought a lot of Jewish comedians were funny (Jerry Seinfeld, Myron Cohen, Billy Crystal, Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, Larry David, George Burns et al). And there have been a few that weren’t so funny (to be fair). Sarah Silverman for one.