Every Jesuit has a “thing”: social justice, academia, baking bread, you name it, we do it. That’s the Jesuit “thing,” we are everywhere you can find God…which is pretty much…well…everywhere. So because every Jesuit needs a “thing”…well besides Jesus, of course, my “thing” is comedy. Before I was a Jesuit I performed and wrote comedy in Chicago for most of my twenties. So I’m “the Jesuit comedian.” I even wrote a book on it (insert book plug here) and wherever I go that’s how I’m introduced: Jake Martin, the Jesuit comedian.
So because I love to be nothing if not completely predictable, it is I, “the Jesuit comedian” who is pointing out to you dear reader, this excellent podcast with comedy writer Tom Leopold.
Tom Leopold has had the kind of career, that once upon a time, I dreamed of having. A writer for numerous hit tv shows, including the holy of holies of comedy itself: Seinfeld, Leopold discusses in an insightful, moving and yes…humorous, interview with America magazine’s Kerry Weber his late in life conversion to Catholicism.
Leopold talks about the events leading up to his conversion, in particular his daughter’s battle with an eating disorder and his realization that as he says, “I didn’t have to bear this suffering alone,” indeed Leopold talks at length about suffering both as a catalyst for conversion as well as the wellspring from which most great humor flows. As he states pointedly, “The greatest jokes come from the most pain.”
Leopold also explores the elation and the foibles of early conversion as he talks about the fear and awe approaching his first encounter with confession: “Maybe I’ll take my first confession out of town, like a Broadway show.” He also talks about some of the reactions of his friends to his newly found faith-life, particularly their surprise at his choice of Catholicism, but as Leopold simply puts it: “I prayed and Jesus was the first guy who showed up.”
Funny how that works.
Comedy image courtesy Flickr user steven seller.