Thou Shalt Laugh: The Deuce
by Phil Boatwright

Here’s a little something different for me. My column this month is in fact a commercial for a DVD. Now, I haven’t been asked to do this, and I’m not being paid for it, and I don’t know any of the comedians featured on the comic tape, and what’s more, I normally steer clear of any kind of promotion. Normally my reviews consist mainly of giving the reason for the rating, along with my opinion. But to actually say, “Buy this one or go see that one,” well, I don’t do that. Providing the facts of an upcoming film seems to be accepted without too much hostility by those who can find something objectionable in every release. Once you start endorsing a product, however, ah, then cometh the slings and arrows. So why open myself up for any kind of suspicion or attack? I’ll tell you in the next paragraph.

Being a film reviewer, I find that the most disheartening genre of film today is the comedy. There are exceptions, but generally, most comedians rely upon vulgarity to get laughs. And lately, it seems the grosser the comedy, the bigger the grosses. But this clever concert reminds viewers that not all humor stems from anatomical and scatological riffs. In this era of I-can’t-believe-I-just-heard-that screen comedy, there are sparks of hope on the comic horizon. And not only do these Christian performers cheer without crudity, but they also reveal that the inclusion of spiritual pronouncements can give humor more substance. This one isn’t just clean – it’s funny.

So, while I’m not going to make a habit of promoting Hollywood stuff, I have come to the conclusion that not all promotion is bad. Here we go

Due to the success of Thou Shalt Laugh, (it has outsold every other Christian comedy DVD), bells and whistles have been added to the funny sequel, Thou Shalt Laugh: The Deuce.  Host Tim Conway is the bell.  Saturday Night Live veteran Victoria Jackson is the whistle.  But standup comedian Taylor Mason is the entire brass section.  A superb musician, undetectable ventriloquist and funny-bone-tickling comedian, Mr. Mason may be the most talented man performing today (that’s not part of the promotion – it’s a fact).

Again produced by Hunt Lowry (A Walk To Remember) and Jonathan Bock (CEO of Grace Hill Media), and directed by Phil Cooke, who also helmed the first Thou Shalt Laugh, this 90-minute show was taped at the Faith Community Church in Southern California. Those featured on the DVD release are gifted with whimsical observations and the knack for making us laugh while also making us think. What’s more, there’s a profound message of faith matter-of-factly centered at the core of their routines.

Tim Conway, host for the night, injects amusing anecdotes between the standup routines, refreshing our memories of the funny man he has always been. Ms. Jackson combines her famous ditzy blonde TV persona with gymnastic poetry reading (you have to see it to believe it), as well as clever and even inspirational ditties sung while playing the ukulele. Thor Ramsey returns from the previous production with his witty perceptions of life, marriage and the world’s view of Christians. And newcomers Dan Nainan and Bone Hampton brilliantly use their ethnicity to punch holes in bigotry and stereotypes.

My appreciation for Taylor Mason, who closes the show, should in no way take from their humorous abilities, but it was Mr. Mason’s night.  He was on, or, as in the musical vernacular, in the pocket.  Mason’s use of puppets and ventriloquism reaches audiences of all ages (now that sounds like it came out of the studio press notes – but no, I wrote it). I said it because he managed to captivate my entire family, including a 2-year-old niece, my 8- and 9-year-old nephews and my parents. (There’s something magical about a performer who can reach that wide ranging an age group.)

It starts out funny – it becomes hysterical!

Well, there you have it, a commercial by Phil Boatwright. And I ain’t getting any money out of it (although I did get a free copy of the DVD). It’s just such a pleasure to be reminded that comedy can be used to edify as well as entertain. Now do me a favor, take it easy with those slings and arrows, will ya?

Release Date: October 23, 2007 exclusively in CBA stores and on www.thoushaltlaugh.com
November 6, 2007 everywhere else.

CLICK HERE to go to the Thou Shalt Laugh website for more information and clips.