What Daniel Carter Brown was thinking about as he & KG created ‘The Story of God’, which runs July 23, 28, & 30 at 10 PM at the Academy!
I describe what Give Us Brains! does as “long-form sketch comedy,” a term I’m claiming to have coined. Little about what we do is improv-based; everything is fully scripted. Vignettes around a theme are written individually, then combined into a contiguous whole with the help of a framing device or two. Ultimately, it’s a normal comedic play, but without strict adherence to continuity. We aren’t the first to do this; I’d argue that Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s work fall into the same genre, among others.
I wrote the Adam, Version 26 sketch a while ago, and it has been previously performed by It’s Good For You!, a Chicago comedy group. I knew that it, and its characters of God, Gabriel, Michael, and Wally could be the framework for a show parodying Bible stories. The next step was choosing which stories to include.
I focused on stories I’ve always found absurd or funny. Ones with lingering questions. Why would Samson just tell Delilah the secret to his strength after she’s proven to be so untrustworthy? What the heck is Jonah’s problem? How much danger was there for God, really, in people building the Tower of Babel? So I wrote a show that answers these questions. Along the way, I’ve answered a few others: If the only way to get an STD is through intercourse, how did the first person contract the herp? Why do we urinate from our life-creating organs? What causes a tornado? After all, what is the purpose of religion, if not to answer the unanswerable questions?
I knew I wanted to end with Revelation, but didn’t know what exactly I could do with it. So I gave it a re-read. It turned out I didn’t have to do much. It’s pretty hilarious as is. I just needed people commenting as it went on, illustrating what’s funny and why. The final product speaks for itself.
By the time I’d written the sketches, God had to become a character who would logically take all the actions she does. Zach Weiner’s webcomic (smbc.com) about theodicy illustrates the problem of reconciling an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God with the fact that there’s suffering in the world. In other words, if God knows everything, can do anything, and wants what’s best for all of us, why wouldn’t He stop bad things from happening? The comic uses a stool for the illustration, explaining that shortening any leg solves the problem. My rendition of God is short in all three legs. She doesn’t understand everything about the world she’s created, nor does she know everything about every person on earth; she has the power to do most anything, but it’s hard work and there’s a laziness factor; and she’s highly self-interested. This character seems to solve many of the “problems” of the Bible. Am I saying God’s like this? No. But I am saying that a God we create who is everything we would want a God to be doesn’t necessarily make sense.
Is this show offensive? Certainly to some. There are parts I’m almost uncomfortable with myself. I hope we did enough in the publicity phase to ward off those who would storm out mid-show. I believe God has an excellent sense of humor, and would not disapprove. If I’m wrong, may He strike me dead.
If I’m dead, you all probably shouldn’t do this show any more.
Thanks for checking us out,