A mind is a terrible thing to waste on comedy

Eddie Izzard is a gifted, but he’s burying his talent. How can I claim this, and why should I be bothering about the speck in his life before the log in mine? As to the first, I shall attempt to demonstrate it shortly, and as to the latter, I will say that this critique of another man’s speck is a part of my attempt to understand, and remove, my own log. Comedy is one of my chief interests and I am currently deliberating as to how much of my time and energy to invest in it. You could say I am using him as a foil. The following critique is distant speculation, as I’ve never conversed with the man but I assure you that if I do I will run this thought by him and hear his defense first-person.

Now, I say his is burying his talent. Here is the proof:
1. He is a highly energetic, fecund thinker;
2. Highly energetic, fecund thinkers may employ their energy to any number of ends, from the best to the worst.
3. If he employed the larger portions of his mental energy to some societal or personal good, this would be morally praiseworthy, as a full investment of his God-given talents into the kingdom of man and the kingdom of heaven.
4. If he employed the larger portions of his mental energy to some less good, societal or personal, this would be morally blameworthy, at least insofar as the choice was willing, because it is a half-hearted investment of his God-given talents, the other half of which he buried.
5. Izzard employs entire sections of his mental energy to the end of producing laughs in people.
6. There are producing laughs in itself is not a societal or personal good, (though it may be used as such), or, if it is, it is a lesser good.
7. Therefore, he is burying his talent.

1. Is easy to agree with for anyone who has seen his stand-up. The man’s energy is almost boundless.
2. This is easy; it’s basically saying “potential can be actualized various ways.”
3. If God created us, then he designed us. If he designed us, he designed us to some end, with some purpose in mind, or without reference to some end, without purpose. God does nothing without purpose, for this would be irrational, and God is perfectly rational. So he designed us to some end. This end to which he designed us are “good works, prepared before us”, works for which we will recieve reward if completed, blame if left incomplete.
4. It does seems that it is possible for us to do wrong the assignment given to us, if we take the most apparent meaning of the parable of the talents. The “wicked servant” took the money given him and buried it, “for fear of the master.” The master punishes the servant for his misuse (or lack of use) of the talent. This indicates that the master did not give specific instructions on how to use the talent, but left some responsibility on the servant.
5. Watching his videos, you see Eddie Izzard not only telling pre-prepared jokes, but improvising. Improvisation, interacting with the audience and such, demands that the skills of humour be honed and developed, ready for use, before the performer ever steps foot on stage.
This being true, I infer the following: Eddie Izzard habitually practices his comedic skills while off the stage. If he is so excellent and “warmed up” while on the stage, he must be keeping warm, by exercising, while off the stage. If this is so, then Eddie Izzard could truthfully describe his life this way: “Large percentages of my time are committed to identifying what is funny, organizing, and executing jokes to make people laugh.”
6. That laughing is not a societal good, or not as good as, say, feeding the poor, fighting against idealogical strongholds in Academia, preaching the good news, is, I think, not controversial.

Therefore, point seven follows, that Eddie Izzard is burying his talent.

I welcome a challange or refutation to any one of my premises, or my conclusion, from one who has it. My reasoning is yet… amateur.

  • http://beinglaunched2010 james1521

    Interesting discussion Keith. Not being familiar with Eddie I can not sanely comment on him personally. I did simply wish to add for consideration that there has been some effective use of comedy for God’s kingdom. Mainly I have in mind Bob Harrington, then known as the Chaplain of Bourbon Street. Bob was adept at making jokes about people in sinful situations. First he would mention the person, then the situation, then draw out the sin in a way that people would laugh at it. Then it dawns on you that, my goodness, I do that! Or, I see, I have been sympathetic to that position. Example: The only way the country club differs from the seedy side bar is in the country club you have have a nice padding when you get drunk and pop your jaw on the bar.
    And, this intercourse: Are you a christian? Of course, see my ring?
    He used his highly developed sense of humor very effectively in evangelism.

    Leading to my point that humor is not wrong, and joy is an important aspect of the kingdom of God and of his gifts to men. Based on that, I would not reject humor unless it was sinful/evil.

  • http://mereorthodoxy.com Keith E. D. Buhler

    James, thanks for your comment.

    Am I getting your argument right? Something like as follows:

    Anything that is not inherently sinful that may be used in service of evangelism, conviction of sin, glorifying God, is good.

    Humor is not inherently sinful.

    Humor may be used in service of evanglism, etc.

    Therefore humor is good.

    Did I get that right?