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Is this a new stand-up genre? Gospel comedy show sees the funny in church life

It’s G-rated comedy coming to Lauderhill for a one-night-only show. And the “G” stands for gospel.

On Nov. 18 funnyman Chris Priester is bringing to Lauderhill Performing Arts Center a group show of stand-up comedians who usually play the black church circuit in South Florida.

What is gospel comedy?

“We make light of church life,” explains Priester, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale and now lives in Lauderhill. “All the comedians grew up in the church. There’s a certain way ladies dress, a certain way choirs sing, a certain way preachers preach. We make it funny. We talk about church life and how it has changed.”

Priester says the church audience does not want “any cursing,” and they also don’t want any blasphemy in the comedy routines.

“”We’re not being mean,” he says. “We’re not picking on the church. And people love it, because it’s different. I think this is the start of a new phenomenon.”

Who’s in the show?

“The other comics in the event are straight Christian comics,” Priester explains. “I met them through events at churches. They don’t go into the clubs.”

Priester breaks down the acts for us.

Comedian Fefe — “She is a true child of the church. She is a ‘church baby,’ as we call it. She has a unique flavor on growing up in the Pentecostal church where people jump around a lot.”

Komedian Kermit — “He’s a funny guy. He talks about life as a parent, as a dad. He loves talking about what that’s like as well as he’s the guy who grew up in the Baptist church in Pompano. You know Pompano is like the country. They still plant crops in the yard. They still got chickens in the yard. He’s a country boy at heart and he talk about down home church services.”

Katrina Jo “Poettis” — “She’s also an educator, but she’s really known as ‘The Poettis.’ She’s a great spoken word artist. She’s one of the most popular poets in Florida. I’ve know her my whole life. We went to [New Mount Olive Baptist Church].Our parents know each other.”

Carolyn Harvey as “Josephine Watkins” — “She’s been doing comedy for about 10 years. She’s done nursing homes and churches. She’s a fun lady. She’s going to get us started.”

Mr. King — “He’s a host on the gospel scene all over America — gospel shows, concerts. He’s the host with the most.”

How did it all start?

Priester, who bills himself as “Priester the Teacher” — a reference to his former occupation as an elementary school teacher — was discovered in a church parking lot by comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley.

“It was maybe about three years ago,” recalls Priester. “My goddaughter was there with this girl who was there selling Girl Scout cookies. I went into a … routine about how her dad shook me down for cookies the week before and how I never see Girl Scouts do anything else. I never see them help little old ladies across the street. I never see them doing homework. Anyway, Smiley, he’s in town visiting some of his people, and he walked over and said, ‘Do you do comedy?’ I said no. He told me to go to the Improv and do open mike night.”

Priester continued doing shows at the Improv at the Hard Rock in Hollywood as well as Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theatre in West Palm Beach. Soon he found a niche playing a “clean comedy” show for churches here and in other states such as Ohio and South Carolina.

“It kind of took off. And then I thought I bet I could get a lot of people out if I did a Christian comedy show.”

If you go

Showtime is at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, 3800 NW 11th Place, in Lauderhill. Tickets are $20. To order, call 954-777-2055 or go to LPACfl.com.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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