The Playmakers are a Christian comedy trio whose work is quickly gaining steam online. Before today, their most popular viral video was called, “How to Sing a Solo in a Black Church,” a sketch parodying church soloists and their pre-song caveats and during-song demands. Because it had the ring of truth, everyone started linking it, sharing it, and doubling over laughing at it. But this morning, they seem to have topped themselves with a new offering titled, “How to Shout in a Black Church, Part 2.”
With its faux-instructional setup, this piece is similar to its church solo predecessor in that each of the moves it mentions are ones that are immediately familiar to regular (and not-so-regular) church attendees. And because the sketches play like inside jokes, no one seems too hesitant to laugh. But there are some folks for whom gospel parody can be patently uncomfortable. Occasionally, these people belong to an older generation, still uncomfortable with stand-up being introduced to and performed in churches. Sometimes, they cite verses that don’t necessarily apply to this particular kind of humor, like Galatians 6:7a (“Be not deceived; God is not mocked”). And often, those uncomfortable with church behavior being parodied feel this way because to poke fun at the way people worship can feel like poking fun at people who worship.
So is it okay to laugh at church humor? Sure. As we discussed in our article, “Are You Churchy?”, church culture isn’t always synonymous with basic Christian tenets. Mocking “shouting” isn’t the same as mocking, say, prayer or tithing or compassion for one’s fellow man. At times, comedians conflate the two, parodying a character’s lack of bible knowledge by “making up” outlandish verses, intended for laughs. (See: any Madea play or movie.) It’s also common for people to “pray” for something absurd in a comedy sketch or to characterize God as someone other than we traditionally imagine He is. In cases like these, knowing when to laugh is even trickier.