Growing up I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. I used to listen to my dad’s Bill Cosby records (yes, vinyl records – I know, I’m super hip) and think that it would be so awesome to make people laugh and be happy.
Stand-up comedy did not work out for me, but luckily, I was able to do the next best thing: I became a youth minister. Now, don’t get me wrong – the Gospel is no joke. A youth minister has got to know when to be serious and proclaim the truth, but a youth minister also needs to have perfect comedic timing to break the ice with a classic one liner. Check out this beauty I used on a middle school kid a couple of weeks ago:
Me: Two fish were in a tank, and one looks at the other one and says, “Hey, do you know how to drive this thing?”
Middle School Kid: (stares blankly)
Inside, I know that he was laughing. I mean, come on, it’s a play on the word tank – which is a container that holds water but also a military vehicle. The fish were driving the tank!
Around Christmas, I like to bust this one out at the beginning of a Life Night:
Me: Two snowmen are standing on a hill. One turns to the other and says, “Funny . . . I smell carrots, too.”
Teens: (awkward chuckles)
Get it? Because their noses are carrots . . . so, yea, I think you got it.
As corny as the jokes may be, I learned several years ago that they can be an effective way of breaking the ice in an otherwise awkward group of middle school and high school teenagers. After all, nothing says, “I’m way more goofy than you are,” than a really bad joke with a cheesy punch line.
So this one is for all of you comedians turned youth ministers, keep up with the bad jokes. Trust me, one day you are going to overhear that teen who stared at you blankly telling one of his friends, “Okay, so two fish were in a tank . . . ”
And if they can remember a cheesy joke like that, just think about what they’ll remember about Jesus.
Question: What is the cheesiest joke you have ever told or heard?