We caught up with comedian Michael Jr. to talk about his new film More than Funny, check it out and find out more below:
Please tell us how you became a Christian:
Well, I had to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth, just like everybody else.
What inspired you to pursue becoming a comedian?
I think on some level without me even knowing it, I always wanted to help people be comfortable. And comedy seemed to initially be the ultimate way to do exactly that. Then years later I realized I could actually make a living doing comedy.
How does your faith impact your career?
I can’t really say how my faith impacts my career because it’s really my whole life. I couldn’t imagine what not having faith or not trusting God would look like. I guess the best way to answer that question would be to ask someone close to me. I will say I’m a completely different person on so many levels than before I put my faith in Christ. Not just my career.
What makes you laugh, and where do you get inspiration for your routines?
I love being around my family and my children. My comedy actually comes from what I used to consider to be a handicap. As a small child I had a hard time reading. I would struggle with reading and it would cause me to look at words differently. As a result of that, I now look at life differently. A lot of times, I find comedy there.
What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career as a comedian?
My advice is always for anybody starting in comedy is to recognize and understand that comedy is a vehicle, it is not a destination. You have to figure out what your destination is and then take your gift of comedy to that place. Another way to say it is: Comedy is a seasoning for the meat that you are supposed to feed other people. But it’s not the meat. In fact, seasoning by itself is pretty bitter…Oooh, that was deep.
Your film is titled More Than Funny, what does it mean to be “more than funny?”
Well, the film is funny. It’s the same type of comedy I’ve done on the late-night television shows, Jimmy Kimble and NBC, however, there’s more. I had a change in mindset years ago, where I felt like I should give people an opportunity to laugh as opposed to try to get laughter from people, so I started doing comedy at homeless shelters and prisons and abused children’s’ facilities before my events at night. And then I started sharing those stories with the people at my full events and they reacted very well. So now, in the comedy special, we share three stories that shouldn’t be in a comedy special, but it works and that’s why we call it “More Than Funny.” We hope that people react, respond and even take action in a really powerful way.
How does this film differ from your previous comedy shows?
There’s more “more” in this one, meaning the other comedy specials were funny, but MORE THAN FUNNY is special because this kind of comedy special has never ever been done before. Like, there’s no movie or no special like this. Not only is it mixing two elements that should never be together, some really heart-felt stories and hopefully some hysterical comedy, but there’s also a really cool call to action at the end that I’m pretty excited about.
You make audiences laugh, and also tug at their heartstrings. What role does laughter play in drawing emotional responses?
Well, anyone will tell you that knows anything about comedy that comedy opens up your heart. Well, I am of the mindset that if I’m going to open up a heart, I’d really like to make it a deposit that’s going to cause some sort of change. And that’s what I’m hoping this movie does. So, I want everybody to come out on October 18, so we can open some hearts and maybe change some stuff for the good.
Explain how viewers can be the punchline.
Well, the way comedy works is there’s a set up and there’s a punchline. Life is very similar. Your setup is what you receive, and your punchline is about what you are called to deliver. And when people don’t understand their punchline, they feel like something’s missing and then what they do is think they need more setup. “If I could just get married.” “If I could just get a bigger house.” “If I could get a raise.” “If I could just…” “could just…” and so on. What people really need to understand is that they have a punchline. It’s just like me struggling with my reading as a child, your setback is a part of your setup, so you can deliver the punchline that you’re called to deliver. I’m really hoping people understand that even the hurts and the things they’ve been through are part of their setup. Everyone has something they can do, something they can accomplish, something that the people next to them need for them to accomplish and get done.
What do you hope viewers will walk away with after watching More Than Funny?
I hope they will walk away with an action, something to actually do or that their eyes are open just a little more to the people who are around them. When I say “around them” I don’t mean down the street where the homeless people are. I’m talking about the people in their household. I believe this movie can cause people to look at what they have a little different and then also assess what’s a great way to deliver it. And then do it. Because the call to action at the end is going to give everybody an opportunity to do something a little different than they probably normally would do at the end of a film.
What are you working on next and how can we pray for you?
We’re about to release a vlog on YouTube. I’ve never done a vlog before. I’ve got some really cool ideas. And I’m hoping everybody goes to YouTube and looks up Michael Jr and subscribes. That’s what we’ve got crackin’ next. At least what I can talk about. There’s some other stuff, but that’s what I’m talking about currently.