Comedy with Purpose
interview with Michael Jr., one of the featured comedians on the new Dove Channel Original, Chondra Pierce Stand-Up for Families Comedy Series
Chonda Pierce Stand –Up for Families Comedy Series is a new family friendly series exclusively on the Dove Channel Original network. This comedy series which premiered on April 5, 2016, is the first of its kind on the new original programming initiative launched by the network. Chondra Pierce, also known as the “Queen of Clean”, along with her host of hilarious friends, Bone Hampton, Brad Stine, PJ Walsh, Nazareth, Joby, Saad, Michael Joiner, Taylor Mason, Anthony Griffith, Sandi Joy, Kay Dodd, Lisa Mills, Chinnitta Morris, Cleto Rodriguez, Rik Roberts and Michael Jr., bring a fresh new face to comedy by presenting clean fun for the entire family to enjoy together.
We had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Michael Jr. about being a part of this new series and his career as one of the greatest clean comedians of our time. Michael Jr. tells us how he discovered his talent at a young age in front of nearly 400 people. He received his “big break” which led to him becoming the first comedian to appear via satellite on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Michael Jr., husband and father of 5, is truly a man of God with the heart and desire to help others to see their purpose in life. His slogan is “Catch with the comedy, keep them with the truth”
Mr. Michael Jr., thank you for agreeing to interview with me today. Let’s get started.
Saviela: So you were recently asked to do stand-up comedy on a new series on the Dove Channel with Chondra Pierce called Stand Up for Families: what was that call like when you received it?
Michael Jr: You mean like the ring tone? (LOL) I know Chondra pretty well, she’s a great person. She actually sent me a text asking if I would do the show. I talked to my people internally (meaning the Holy Spirit), my team and told her yes, I would do it. It was fun and they are great people to work.
Saviela: It’s amazing that we finally have a show where families can sit down and enjoy a wholesome comedy show together. I love the thought of bringing family value back in the homes. With you being a father of five children how does that make you feel?
Michael Jr: I love it. Actually when I started my comedy career, I told my kids anything I said on stage, they can repeat it. That was even before I was a Christian, which created some built in accountability. I always wanted my kids to come to my shows. Ever since the beginning, my youngest, at the time was four years old, would come to the comedy club with me. He and his sister would sit in the green room and watch the show on the monitors. I love my kids way more than I like doing comedy so I want them to be a part of whatever I am doing.
Saviela: I always say laughter is the universal language. It has the power to change a person’s attitude and demeanor. Even the bible refers to laughter as medicine for the heart. (Proverbs 17:22). What is laughter to you?
Michael Jr: My definition of laughter is tangible evidence of hope. If someone can laugh, then you know there is hope. My thing is just to try to be a conduit to their hope. I can’t give anyone joy but I can spark it to remind them that it’s there. You never know what’s going on in your audience there could be someone there contemplating suicide, or a couple who just got married and are happy and celebrating. Sometimes at my show there have been people who haven’t laughed because of losing a loved one or someone who just received a bad diagnosis. Everyone has a story so whether I’m performing at a comedy club or a church or the Tonight’s Show, ABC, or even the homeless shelter, I try to bring my best show to them.
Saviela: What was the most powerful testimony you received from someone who was touched by your talent?
Michael Jr: I remember two instances. The first one, I was at an abused children’s facility doing a comedy show for the children and their caretakers. There was a little boy there who was abused by his mom who was on drugs. His grandma was telling me his story which was a really sad story. She told me he was so afraid of his mom that he would put on his Spiderman costume. So I listened to all the children’s stories. They brought all the children in the room and I had to do comedy for them knowing their stories. It’s one thing to do comedy for a group when you don’t know who they are but it’s another thing to do comedy for a group when you know what they have been through. When I started my show, I noticed right up front this little boy in a Spiderman costume. In the midst of people laughing at my jokes, I heard a kid’s voice say, “My name is Roman” and he pulls off his mask and introduces his self to me. It was one of the most powerful moments in my stand-up comedy career.
There was another time when I was in Northern California doing stand-up comedy at a church. I was giving my audience a little insight on purpose which is what I am called to do; to inspire people to walk in purpose through comedy. I was explaining that God has a purpose and a plan for them, but that they have to be in line with His plan. At the end of my show, a guy on the security team from that location approached me and said, “Hey there is this guy that really wants to talk to you and he looks pitiful.” So I say ok, and the guy pulls me to the side and explains to me that he is a fugitive that came to church because he was desperate. He listened to my message and now wanted to turn himself in as a result of what took place that afternoon. I was able to pray with him and then he told the guards and turned himself in. That completely blew me away.
Saviela: I read about the time when you did an impromptu show at a crowded Grand Rapids, Michigan movie theater to calm an angry audience due to a malfunction with the film. Did someone encouraged you to go up there or was it something you decided to do on your own?
Michael Jr: Yes, a friend dared me to go tell a joke. We were in high school at the time and the lights came on and my friend, who was a German exchange student at the time, dared me to go up on stage and tell a joke. So, I got up there and told this joke and for the first time ever I felt this high. I’ve never done drugs before or drank any alcohol and even until today I haven’t…well I had some Nyquil once (LOL). When I told this joke everyone laughed and I felt this amazing feeling. As I look back at that moment, seeing all those people laughing and having a great time; it really gave me a glimpse of what I was called to do. Before I got up there to tell the jokes the people were angry and mad. I was able to make them laugh and their whole attitude changed. All I did was give them a part of me that did not cost them anything. It was just a gift that was given to me and I realized a gift is only a possession until you give it to someone else.
Saviela: You are truly a ground breaking comedian as you were the first comedian to appear on The Tonight’s Show with Jay Leno on live TV. Did you always do clean comedy and if not when was the moment you changed and why?
Michael Jr: Yes I’ve always done clean comedy, even before I became a Christian. When I became a Christian, I had an “aha” moment and then it all made sense. I remember after doing a show and George Wallace coming up to me saying, “Wow you do comedy, you’re funny and you’re clean.” Then he asked “why don’t you curse?” I told him, “I don’t know, what if my grandmother walked in”. I really didn’t have a reason not to curse; it was just something I didn’t do. When I was 14 years old, I made a deal with a friend that we would not curse anymore. If he heard me curse he would hit me in the chest as hard as he could and vice versa. Well, the dude hit pretty hard so I just stopped cursing and it just stuck with me. So when I started doing comedy it was naturally clean. I had no desire to be dirty even now, because, I have a better understanding of the importance of clean comedy. Comedy is not about getting laughs, it is about giving people the opportunity to laugh and if the comedy is clean, then more people will be able to enjoy it. This is really what the Chondra Pierce Stand-up for Families Comedy Series is all about.
Saviela: Let’s talk about the #1 Christian Movie of 2015, War Room. You played a character that was best friends with one of the main characters, Tony Jordan, played by TC Stallings. Did the amount of support for this movie catch you by surprise? What was your favorite scene in this movie?
Michael Jr: The support was cool. I knew after seeing the movie in the first cut that it was going to be powerful because I cried. I saw the movie, helped make the movie, and I still got all choked up the first four times I saw it. I was like, this movie is awesome. My favorite scene is when Priscilla Shirer, who plays Elizabeth Jordan, kicks the enemy out of her house. That part was really well done. The Kendrick Brothers did an amazing job. It was so cool to witness people being moved as a result of this film. There were people creating war rooms in their homes. Home Builders and Contractors were receiving specific request to have war rooms to be built into houses. It was a cool experience.
Saviela: War Room was all around a stellar film! There were so many funny scenes throughout the movie. Were you able to help write some of the comedic scenes in the movie?
Michael Jr: Yes, they did let me contribute and let me do my parts the way I wanted to do it. They also let me add something funny to the parts that I wasn’t in. They trust God and the people around them to help contribute to the movie as a whole and it worked out great.
Saviela: I must say you are a very powerful comedian that has a way of delivering a powerful message within your show. Was there ever a time when you doubted your gift?
Michael Jr: No, I never doubted my gift. I knew I could bring laughter to people. I’m just getting a better understanding of how to do it and what it means to break down walls. When people laugh it’s like you are opening up their heart. You just don’t open their hearts just to open it but, there is a purpose for doing so. I just want to make sure I’m making the right deposit. So I am trying my best to listen and be a good steward of my gift and make the right deposits into my audience.
Saviela: Lastly, how can our audience connect with you?
Michael Jr: They can go to my website http://www.Michaeljr.com. We have a new comedy special we are working on now so they can be on the lookout for that soon. I am also writing another book that will be out next year. They could also go to the Dove channel and check out the Chondra Pierce Stand-Up for Comedy Series. And I am on all social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) as MichaelJr Comedy.
Thank you Mr. Michael Jr. for your time it has indeed been a pleasure talking with you today. I would also Amy Sisoyev, Public Relations Representative for “Stand up for Families” for facilitating the interview. On behalf of the Faith Filled Family Magazine we thank you for your time and pray God’s continual blessings upon you both.
Click here read the interview in the June Issue of the Faith Filled Family Magazine