40, is a Christian humorist, Assemblies of God minister
and president of Just-In-Time Communication Inc. He talked
with Associate Editor Kirk Noonan recently about using comedy
to share the gospel. For Fennell, telling jokes and being
funny is serious business for one reason: eternity is in the
A lot of comedians are notoriously unhappy people when they’re
not on stage. Are you?
comedians have had tough or dark times in their lives, and
it’s true that most of us have lived our lives on the
outside looking in. We developed a coping mechanism and that
was being funny. But I am happy and at peace whether I am
on stage or not.
PE: So you don’t
have any skeletons in your closet?
Let’s put it this way, I’m not scared to run for
public office. So, no, I don’t have any skeletons in
my closet. Well, maybe a couple of packs of bubblegum from
the Rexall Drug Store, but come to think of it I made reparations
for those when I was a kid, so my closet is pretty much empty.
PE: Why did
you go into comedy?
came to me. I never pursued it. I got my first taste of it
when I wrote puppet sketches at my church. I guess we all
have to start somewhere.
PE: When did
you become a believer?
I feel like I have loved Jesus all my life because I was raised
in the church and can’t remember ever not having a passion
for Him. It would be easier for me to tell you the exact date
when I was called into the ministry or baptized in the Holy
Spirit. But I’d estimate I accepted Christ as my Savior
when I was in kindergarten.
PE: Why do many
Christians hold comedy at arm’s length?
Most Christians’ only experience with comedy has been
bad. They see comedians saying or doing things that should
not be said or done. But good, clean Christian comedy is powerful.
You can get whole families laughing together without inappropriate
remarks or putting someone or something down.
PE: Why are
some comedians always taking shots at people?
It’s called bully humor, and yes you can get laughs
doing that. But it’s not really comedy. There doesn’t
have to be a victim in good comedy.
your take on comedians who are vulgar?
Comedy doesn’t have to be filthy to be funny. Comedians
that use blue humor or sexual innuendo haven’t developed
their craft. They use shock value to get people to laugh,
but it’s only nervous laughter.
PE: Most comedians
perform in clubs — do you?
I’ve never played the club circuit and I don’t
feel like I need that validation to feel good about my comedy
PE: Can the
church use comedy to share Christ’s message of love
As a church we need to offer more evangelical events that
have good clean fun. When we do, non-Christians will see that
Jesus can meet their needs. They’ll also see that Christians
are in touch with reality and a relationship with Christ is
the answer to life’s most pressing questions.
PE: What is
your favorite joke?
Ed and Jed are walking down the road. Ed says to Jed, “If
I can guess how many chickens you have in that sack will you
give me one?”
Jed thinks about
it for a moment and says, “If you can guess how many
chickens I have in this sack I’ll give you both of them.”
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