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The Master would not approve} ?> When I was a kid, my dream job (besides working for The Peace Corps) was to write for a show called Mad Movies. If you’re old like me, you might have seen this show on Nickelodeon in the 80’s. The show was old movies with new soundtracks dubbed over them to make them hilarious. I thought making fun of old movies would be an awesome job; that’s what I wanted to do that with my life. You know… or work for the Peace Corps…
Well, I didn’t do either. I wound up working for the Catholic Church. Though I teach and write a lot, and both of these venues necessarily include humour.
When I was in high school another show came into my view: Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was like Mad Movies, but with robots! And you get to hear the original dialogue, which is often as funny as what the guys added. Many of the jokes become staple phrases in my home, and my family watches episodes on YouTube together as often as we can.
My younger son recently said, “Oh no…I’m growing up to be Torgo.” (Don’t ask me why—I can’t remember and I probably forgot on purpose.) Both of my boys periodically approach me awkwardly reaching for my hair while humming the Torgo Theme. We are all in agreement that The Master would not approve of most of the things that happen in our home. When I ask the kids a question, the answer is often a whiny, “I don’t know!” in the style of Zap Rowsdower. And, even though they haven’t seen “Devil Fish” yet, they know that when I sing the modified “Juicy Fruit” theme, that it’s from there. I enjoy having been able to share MST3K with my children, even if it means that, since we’ve started watching them together, it’s inspired my little peanut gallery to comment on every TV show or movie that we watch.
People are funny. Humanity’s attempts at describing God can be pretty funny, too. When I look back at my religious history, or my old personal assumptions or mistakes I’ve made, it’s helpful to look at them with humour. To me, it’s way better than getting upset. I might as well find the joke in it. For example, when I’m teaching Bible stories and come across something like the rule in Leviticus 11 where it says not to eat road kill, I think “Holy cow (or whatever they found dead on the ground)! They had to make a law for that?! That means somebody did it!”
Or in Acts 2 where onlookers accuse the disciples of being drunk, Peter’s response is, “It’s only 9:00 a.m.; they’re not drunk” (v 15). It seems like the next sentence could be, “Come back in a few hours and we’ll talk.” In the Gospel stories when the Apostles say the goofy things they say and make their horrendous faux pas, I picture Jesus doing a facepalm or rolling His eyes. I think God must have a good chuckle at my antics on a daily basis, too.
That’s what MST3K does—it looks at attempts at creativity and human expression that would otherwise be torture to watch and makes them entertaining. I’m not saying we have to make a joke out of everything, but, as Pope Francis says (which he totally ripped off the Bible), if we have no joy we really need to re-evaluate what we’re about—because it isn’t God. Personally, I think God is all about joy.
While it would be really fun to have a job on MST3K, it turns out I don’t have to do it for a living to appreciate the humour in life. Working for a church can be almost as entertaining. You meet some characters. However, I’ve learned that apparently it’s not “socially acceptable” to make up dialogue over their conversations. (Just kidding, of course!)