After a brief stint away from the spotlight, viral comedian John Crist is back in full force. He is reflecting on his love for the Church and how he navigates the often tricky waters of humor within the Christian community.
In an interview with The Christian Post, the 39-year-old pastor’s kid said he has a deep belief in the transformative potential of the local Church.
“I think the local Church is, in a lot of ways in this country, our only hope,” he said. “If the local Church could do what it was intended to do, I think it could solve the majority of the problems we’re looking at in this country and around the world.”
Yet, Crist’s faith doesn’t blind him to the quirks and idiosyncrasies of church culture. In fact, he sees his comedic role as a mechanism to keep everyone honest. And like the court jester of yesteryears, Crist said his comedy is crafted not to belittle but to foster a sense of self-awareness.
“Everyone in the king’s court would say, ‘You look good, you’re doing the best, you’re incredible, everything’s great,'” he said. “And the jester was the guy that would come in … and kind of make fun of everything. It was done in a way that was therapeutic and helpful, not to tear anybody down. Every video I’ve ever made, obviously, we ruffle some feathers every now and then, but my hope would be that the person that we’re making the joke about would laugh at it and still think it’s funny. And 99% of the time, that’s what happens.”
Crist is one of today’s most visible comedians, both in the Evangelical world and beyond. His videos, with titles “If Bible Characters were Influencers” and “If Noah’s Ark Happened in 2022” have over 1 billion views. A Georgia native who currently resides in Nashville, Crist also pokes fun at Southern culture, country music and, frequently, Chick-fil-A.
His latest video, “Every Christian Music Video,” comically pinpoints the stereotypical elements found in many Christian music videos — the conflicts, the spiritual epiphanies and the almost instantaneous resolutions.
“There’s always some kind of disagreement or argument; the guy leaves the house; the guy has some kind of transformation process; and then he comes back home, and everyone’s forgiven and healed and restored in like two minutes and 30 seconds,” he said. “It never really gets into specifically what was going on; he just kind of sees a cross in the clouds or something like that and comes home.”
As with most of his comedy, Crist said that among viewers, there’s often a dichotomy between private enjoyment and public endorsement “depending on what kind of denomination or how deep you are into the game.”
“All the guys on K-Love are all buddies of mine, and most of them have texted me,” he said. “I got one that said, ‘Dude, I love this video. It’s so true. And so well done. But publicly, I can’t reshare it. But it’s unbelievable.'”
“I hope people liked the video,” he continued. “I’ve tried to get what’s in my heart up into my head and out of my mouth. And however it’s received, once it comes out of here, is kind of none of our business. I’ve been interacting with ‘Every Christian Music Video’ for the past year and a half. Now it’s out, I’m done. So it goes on to y’all to decide if this is the best thing you’ve ever seen, or if it’s heretical.”
Crist said he came up with the idea for the music video in 2019 during a four-month stay in a treatment facility. The stay came after Charisma Magazine reported allegations of sexual misconduct toward young female fans.
“I came up with that idea when I was in rehab in 2019,” he said. “I think I just saw it so many times, maybe we watched some music videos, probably in rehab — it’s kind of my way of coping with a lot of these things.”
Crist shared how having faced his own public scrutiny and “cancellation” gave him a unique vantage point from which to observe the ebb and flow of public opinion.
“I think everybody has their own convictions about things, and I think that’s fine,” he said. “I think if you say to me, ‘I won’t come to your shows or engage with your material because I believe it’s across the line,’ I’m OK with that. I used to not be. I used to want to explain to everybody, ‘Well, no, I meant this,’ but I now say, ‘It’s fine.'”
“If you say, ‘You know what, our pastor wants to have holes in his jeans, we’re going to start a new church’ — I think that’s fine, but you don’t get to be critical of the other church and say that they’re going to Hell for that. We’re not talking about the cardinal issues of Christianity; we’re talking about these ancillary things that … have divided us since day one.”
Crist said that while experiencing a public cancellation was “the worst thing on planet Earth” and “horrific,” it saved his life.
“I don’t agree with the way it was done, but it did save my life,” he said. “I’m now three and a half, four years past it, and I’ve been sober since that day.”
Crist’s re-emergence into the comedy scene hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last month, he released his latest special, “John Crist: Would Like To Release A Statement,” via YouTube. The video has already received over 1.8 million views. Since January, he’s been on his sold-out “Emotional Support Tour” performing across the country.
The comedian revealed that the inspiration for the tour’s title and theme stemmed from the isolation and challenges faced by many during the pandemic-related lockdowns.
As people grappled with growing feelings of loneliness and disconnection, exacerbated by alarming rises in depression, drug use and other “diseases of despair,” Crist said he saw a need for community, connection and laughter.
“‘Emotional support’ is a play on words,” he said. “It’s kind of making fun of people on an airplane that will bring emotional support peacock, or I’ve seen a horse or lizard or a rabbit or a snake. It’s making fun of that and also giving a nod to the emotional support that does take place when people come [together] and laugh together.
So many people have emailed and said, ‘Man, thank you so much. We needed that. You just feel lighter.’ But the same thing it does to everyone else in the crowd, it does to me. … it’s unbelievable and I believe, therapeutic, for everybody.”
Looking ahead, Crist said his intention is clear — to use comedy as a bridge, uniting communities over shared laughter and introspection. He said his commitment to the game of comedy and his broader mission within the Christian community remains unwavering.
“I think the local church is our only hope,” he said. “A lot of the stuff that divides us are the walls I’m trying to bring down to bring us all together. If comedy is done appropriately, that’s the goal that should serve. We don’t hit the mark every time, obviously, we swing and miss every now and then, but it’s part of the game.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com
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