CCM: “Gold in them hills.” That’s good. [Laughs] Where did humor begin to play into your platform?
ML: Honestly, the Lord did call me to sing. I was in college, it was Sunday afternoon and I was lying on my bed. I was too awake to go to sleep, and too hot and tired to get up. Whenever I can’t go to sleep, I always pray because I know the Lord’s upset about something. It seemed like I needed to confess a few things, so I prayed, “Lord, what have I done now?” It’s like the Lord spoke to me and said, “Why won’t you do what I want you to do?” And I said, “What’s that?” And the Lord said, “Go into music.”
So when I started traveling and singing, Roy Morgan with Premier Productions, called me up and said, “I want to book you.” I didn’t know him. His job was to clean the dorms [where we attended school at Liberty University]. He was a student. Come to find out, he could book a pork chop into a synagogue. He booked forty-three concerts in forty-one days. He called these independent Baptist preachers, and convinced them to let this Mark Lowry person come to their church and sing.
While I was waiting on the little man in the back of the church to change those soundtracks, which can feel like an eternity when people are staring at you, I started telling stories to set up the next song and people started laughing. At first I thought, Why are they laughing at my testimony? But then I thought, I’m on to something here. They’re paying attention. You could have the greatest content in the world, and if they ain’t listening, what good is it? So I started going with it.
But I’ve never considered myself a comedian—I’ve been labeled that—but a comedian is like a [Jerry] Seinfeld in my mind. He tells three jokes, changes the subject, tells three jokes, changes the subject, and it’s brilliant—I love it, but you leave knowing nothing about him. I love storytellers, because a great story was the one thing that would hold my attention without medication.
CCM: Last year at the Dove Awards, they asked you to kill some time during the taping. You had us rolling, especially with the denominational humor. I don’t know how you get away with that.
ML: I think because they know I love them all. All these different denominations have one thing in common, and that’s Jesus. Humor is great to use to shoot down sacred cows so you can see the cross. We’ve got to shoot down the sacred cows.
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