A veteran comedian with appearances on The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel, Michael Jr. has been sharing his blend of clean, hilarious laughter all over the country. Now, thanks to a Fathom Event on October 18, audiences can see a specially-recorded show that is More Than Funny.
In the film, recorded before a live audience, Michael Jr. explains that it’s every comedian’s job to set the stage and then take the audience somewhere that they don’t expect to go, before he successfully does that again and again over the next hour. He invites the audience in to laugh at him, with him, and at themselves, spinning jokes about people’s perceptions and expectations on race, attire, jobs, sports, awkward situations, and more.
But while Michael Jr. sets the audience up for the punchlines of his jokes, he’s also setting the viewer up for stories that aren’t funny that are deeply meaningful. He promises in a moment breaking through the fourth wall early on that there’ll be three stories - like the Ghosts of Christmas Night - that will be visited throughout the hour-plus show. And he delivers these through videos that demarcate the lines of jokes about life and the lives we’re called to lead.
In the first, Michael Jr. shares with us the story of a man who founded Hands of Hope, an organization that uses Google Earth to find homeless people, often thanks to their blue tarps. Through this ministry, the homeless population is reminded they’re not alone or forgotten, and gathered in through the ministry to receive food, shelter, and comfort they’ve often given up receiving again. Hands of Hope looks at people differently, much the same way that Michael Jr. admits to seeing different things in situations than what ‘normal’ people might.
Michael Jr.’s early trouble reading, his upbringing in a harder childhood than some, and his skin tone all lead him to laughs, but they’re also the subjects of lessons he shares with the audience. Sure, the audience is laughing at the jokes, but like a good parable, the audience slowly realizes that the jokes are occasionally about their prejudices and problems. The comedian’s delivery provides them the opportunity to examine their issues from a safe distance, but the intentionality of the show reminds us that we’re being given the opportunity to change.
“You were practicing and you didn’t even know it,” Michael Jr. tells the audience early in the set. He’s reminding us that our stories can be funny, can be meaningful. He wants us to know our experiences might not be our fault or of our own design, but that God can use them for the good (Romans 8:28). In that, we see that this hour of laughs is meant to free our hearts from the things that burden us, but as we reflect on the laughter, we’re called to engage in things that make a difference.
So head to the theater to laugh, to consider, to be moved by story. Michael Jr. is on the move, and he’s not going to leave you where he finds you.
Michael Jr.'s More Than Funny is in theaters on October 18 at 7 p.m. local time.