STORIES


 
 
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ALYSSA

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"Currently, I am performing in the DelTones (musical improv) The Haroldo (Spanish improv) and a Harold Team (still unnamed, regular ole improv) at iO.  I am also on the independent team Ms. Mistoffelees with a strong group of female performers, and perform in various independent groups around Chicago.  I'm in rehearsals for 'UnScriptured', a show that will improvise Bible stories using Biblical themes and language.  My favorite thing in the world is Cedarville Comedy-a group that creates comedy videos about the Christian Subculture.  If you want to see one of my shows, just ask me and I'll let you know when things are going on!  Or just look at Cedarville Comedy's facebook page because we post all of our new videos there.   

I honestly hid my faith from the comedy community for the first few years in Chicago, fearing rejection from a group of people that I so desperately wanted to join.  It has always been a bit of a battle-I love the comedy and I love the church world, and I had an incredibly hard time finding some commonalities between these two worlds.  I would do shows on Saturday night, go to church on Sunday morning, and be a completely different person within a 12 hour period.  They were both genuinely me, but I cannot begin to explain how different I behaved in each situation. 

Things changed when I was looped into an independent team and met Cristy (my writing partner).  She is a phenomenal performer and a strong Christian.  We were sitting in the back seat of a car on our way to an improv festival when we both admitted that we were Christians.  I felt as though I had found another X-Men.  I didn't know anyone was going through the same thing that I was-or that it was possible to be an excellent performer AND a strong Christian-they are not mutually exclusive, as is so often assumed.  We talked about our testimonies, our frustrations with both sides of the equation, and found a similar comic sensibility.  We joked and laughed about these things for years-and then we created Cedarville Comedy.  

Cedarville Comedy was a game changer for me.  After years of trying to reason with myself or explain why I feel so strongly pulled into Christianity and comedy, Cristy and I were asked to write and perform in a video for church (Park!).  We wrote a piece about modern worship songs and how the words sound nice but mean nothing (Gracefully Graces me).  It felt natural! We were writing about our experience, commenting on it, and using comedy as a way to bring up difficult topics for discussion. 

Within two weeks it had over a million views on facebook, and the Huffington Post wrote an article about how this relates to modern Christians.  We realized that we had tapped into something that people were wildly interested in, but more importantly we were able to start and have conversations about God that we never would have had before.  So many people came up to me after that video and talked about their experience in church, and everyone understood the thesis of the video: We should listen to excellent songs and pay attention to the words in church.  We have released quite a few videos since then, each one with their own thesis, and a touch of personal history within the church.  Cedarville has started to make comedy and Christianity make sense to me.  

There were definitely things that I needed to sacrifice in order to pursue my faith in God within comedy. The big things were my own pride and self-reliance.  I am a people pleaser to a fault so I never spoke up about my faith or even acknowledged that I went to church when it came up in conversation with improvisers, but God has challenged me to be brave and talk about my faith.  I was very proud and comfortable with the happy go lucky, yet surface level relationships that I had with many improvisers, so whenever a deeper question came up about moral beliefs or religion I would QUICKLY shy away from it or ignore it entirely.  Then God pushed me to speak out and I was mortified.  I know the assumptions that people make about Christians, and was very frightened that people would make the same assumptions about me.  My fear of ruining my reputation was stronger than my faith in God, so when I broke through and spoke about it, it was a huge moment for me.  I was shocked by the overwhelming positive support and curiosity from the improv community.  Everyone I have talked to about my faith has been extraordinarily kind, accepting, and loving.  More importantly, this support has helped me to be bold and unashamed of a faith that I have always had in secret but, for fear of rejection, I had never spoken of before.   

Once the cat was out of the bag and people realized that I was a Christian (mostly through seeing Cedarville videos on facebook), I have been so blessed to have so many meaningful, genuine conversations with people about their faith.  I have had deep conversations with people in a crowded bar at 1:00 in the morning about their current relationship with God, whether they are searching, gave up on God in grade school, or are atheists.  Those who come to me with a genuine curiosity about my faith and have asked questions that I don't know the answer to-so they have pushed me further in my faith as well.  

 I have always seen the two passions of my life as opposites: Christianity VERSUS Comedy.  They existed in two polar opposite worlds with polar opposite ideals and people within them, but I'm now realizing that mine is such a unique perspective, so I'm able to talk to both sides.  I wouldn't be able to speak honestly to comedians without first being a part of the comedy world, and there are so few people who are Christians within this world-it's a perspective that isn't often seen.  I also feel as though since I have so many non-Christian friends whom I genuinely love and admire, I can speak to  people who basically exclusively interact with Christians and emphasize the importance of conversations and relationships with people of all backgrounds.  

In a more selfish sense, I have tried my best to always create quality work and surround myself with quality performers.  There is an assumption that Christian artists are inferior to other artists because, frankly, sometimes the art that Christians create is objectively bad.  Christians CAN create amazing art-so why would we settle for anything less?  I have always worked very hard to combat this assumption because I believe that artists are great storytellers, and I know the greatest story ever told.  Jesus' story is the only story with true and full redemption at the end, so I try to make sure any stories that I tell mirror that redemption, and that I live my life through Him.  

I absolutely love comedy and I love Christ. I've realized these are two things that are fundamentally true about how I was made, and every day I'm trying to bridge the gap between these two worlds."