In the 1990’s, I was living in Chicago.
My passion was studying and practicing the Rules of Comedy under improv gurus Martin de Maat, Tina Fey, and Mick Napier. Any free moment I had was spent watching live comedy at The Second City. My hopeful trajectory was toward Saturday Night Live.
Then I met Chris Farley.
Two days after this photo was taken in December of 1997, Chris Farley tragically died of a drug overdose.
A lot has changed in my life since that day 20 years ago. I finished up my studies, receiving a Bachelors Degree in Theater and graduated from the conservatory program at The Second City. But comedy wasn’t my game anymore.
There were three lessons I learned from my experiences with Farley:
1) Fame is fake.
There is something screwed up about seeking approval from an audience of anonymous faces. Money and notoriety do not buy you happiness.
2) Life is short.
Chris Farley was only 33 years old when he passed. He was on top of the world: people clamoring for his attention, movie contracts, millions of dollars… and then *poof.* He was gone. Having more stuff doesn’t get your act together. You are still fragile.
3) Jesus is Life.
In the end we all die.
The question haunting me was: What’s life like after life?
After a journey of researching all the world’s religions and their their varying sacred texts, only one Person’s life stood up to the scrutiny of science, world history, and archaeology: Jesus of Nazareth.
He’s the only Founder of a faith movement that claimed to be God in human flesh, was willingly tortured and slaughtered for our sins and mistakes, and was buried. Three days later that tomb was empty. The body was never found… because He was seen. Walking. Talking. Eating. Hanging out. By over five hundred eyewitnesses.
Now I don’t know about you, but when a guy claims to be God, predicts His death, and then raises Himself from the dead by His own power, I tend to get excited about THAT and join His team… I want to wear THAT team jersey!
And so that is where I am at 20 years later.
I’m leveraging comedy to point people to Christ. Because I’ve discovered that Jesus is Life – He alone gives you the identity you seek through money/fame/whatever. He alone satisfies. He radically accepts people and His movement is scandalously inclusive. Simple, humble belief is the ticket in.
I am thankful for Chris Farley’s life. He made me laugh.
A season of his life impacted my life.
And now I’m giving my life to point others to Life.
I started a church from scratch 4 years ago: no people, no money, no place to meet.
Four years later we’re serving 900+ on a single Sunday.