Clean comedian John Crist loves Katt Williams, and is loved by Denver's dirtiest standups

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John Crist with comic Louie Anderson.

Growing up in a religiously conservative home, were you ever exposed to subversive comics like Bill Hicks or Richard Pryor?

Yeah. Every kid wants to rebel against their parents and do their own thing at some point, and for me that was when I started getting into comedy. You're actually going to make fun of me for this, but if anyone ever asks me who my favorite comedian is, I always say "Katt Williams." And he probably has the dirtiest jokes I've ever heard in my life.

But there are times now when I'm in a comedy club and I still don't get some of the jokes. It's usually either a drug or sex reference. Somebody the other night was talking about a...roach? Do you know what that is? It's like the leftover of a blunt or something?

Sure. A blunt or a joint.

Yeah, and I'm 28 years old, so it's kind of embarrassing that I didn't know that. But if I don't get a drug or sex reference, I'm okay with that.

But it does make you somewhat unique. Sometimes it is exhausting listening to one comic after another talk about sleeping till noon, smoking a bowl, trying to find sex, then discovering something depressing about themselves through rejection.

That's a great point. Some times people ask me, "Why do you take your material into secular clubs?" But what you just said is exactly why. You got seven comics who will, like you said, talk about waking up at noon and not showering -- and it's refreshing to have someone tell jokes about home-schooling.

I love that comedy is one of the last outlets of completely free speech. If you want to make a rape-joke, you're more than welcome to. You can get up there and say whatever you want. And if that's the case, then I should be able to talk about what I believe. I'm not shoving it down people's throats, or judging them, but I'll be honest about who I am. And the Denver comedy scene has been really supportive. The Fine Gentleman's Club are all great guys -- we're big fans of each other.

Sam Tallent from FGC recently said to us that "making fun of John Crist for being a Christian is the hackiest thing you can do as a comic." I'm curious about how this became an issue in the first place: Is it that we unfairly dismiss Christian comics the same way we do Christian rock, or is it that the material of that genre is reliably terrible?

I would say that the stigma is completely justified. I'm about to do some church shows this weekend, and these crowds, they're the most overly supportive crowds that you've ever seen in your life. They give standing ovations. They explode over the most mildly funny thing. And that can make you complacent.

There are a couple Christian comics that I think could succeed in the mainstream, but by and large, it's not good comedy. It's like, "Hey everybody, what's with church pews being so close together?" So I have to stay connected with the mainstream so I don't get lazy with these over-supportive crowds.

So mainstream clubs sharpen up your material?

Oh, yeah, and if you come from a mainstream club and do a church, people are like, "This is incredible!" They think it's the best thing that ever happened.

It seems like that dynamic is analogous to the underground comedy scene, in that many people want to support a comic for being local, and want to support the local scene because it's where they live, without ever taking a critical look at how good or bad the comic is. Just like many churches will blindly support a Christian comic simply for existing.

Yes, like if you're a lesbian, you have to like Melissa Etheridge. She's on our team kind of thing, you have to support her. Or like a black comic, or a Latino comic, any comic with a hook, if you're on that team, you have to support it.

And these people that live in the suburbs with three kids, and don't want their kids around drugs or cursing, they want to laugh, too. They're not like "I hate laughter, I hate fun, I just want to judge everybody." They're not like that.

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Comedy Works

1226 15th St., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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