When I was growing up, life was a world away from the entertainment writer life I’m living now. I am the grandson of a former pastor so my formative years were spent in every black church within the state of New Jersey. If it wasn’t choir rehearsal on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, it was Bible study on Tuesday and youth group on Wednesday. With spending so much time in the house of the Most High, you tend to see things that aren’t funny but are totally funny. For example, my choir director was in the middle of reading us the riot act for fooling around when we should have been learning the three-part harmony in “Love” by God’s Property. She was yelling so hard that her Poli-Grip decided it wasn’t going to be an adhesive anymore and her dentures fell out of her mouth. Not funny, but you know we all laughed and got smacked for it.
Thinking about that led me down road of remembering all of the universal things that happen at black churches that kids will get smacked for laughing at. Check out some of them below.
1. The Woman Who Caught the Holy Ghost At Every Single Sermon
As a child, the highlight of any church service was when women caught the Holy Spirit. I used to crack up laughing because it was always the handicapped woman who needed a cane, an usher, and two deacons to get her to seat that would all of a sudden be filled with the spirit and wind up doing the Hammer Dance. There’s also the woman who walked in complaining about how her weight is making it hard to walk who somehow manages to drop down and get her eagle on for the Lord.
2. Pastor Screaming After Every Word
There’s nothing more inappropriately funny than a pastor who seriously gets into the message he’s delivering. Why is that funny? Because once the sermon gets good to them, they pepper their sentences with random screams between every other word. It’s like the pastor doesn’t want to get ratchet and clap on every syllable, so he does that as a compromise with his ratchet and spiritual halves. Mom Dukes still popped me for laughing too loud though.
3. People Who Sleep In Church
I’m guilty of this. I’ve fallen asleep in church and felt no shame about it. But I’ve learned the error in my ways. Now, I sit and laugh when people fall asleep in church because it’s so blatant. People don’t try to catch a few moments of rest while the long-winded parishioner is talking. (They’re only supposed to be up there welcoming visitors, but instead they give their testimony, announce their prayer requests, and send shout outs for those who comforted them during their time of bereavement.) People chose to sleep right as the pastor is making his way to the pulpit to deliver the message God put on his heart that Sunday. This gets even funnier when the pastor acknowledges the sleeping church member from the pulpit.
4. Late People
Everybody and their momma’s momma knows what time church starts! Get there on time. It saves you from the hassle of trying to find a parking spot once the parking lot is full and you don’t need to try to “sneak” down the center aisle to find a seat. Plus, when that late person gets to their normal pew, they get indignant when someone is sitting in their seat. Excuse me, causing a scene at church over a seat is not Christian-like and you need to repent, but the worldly person in me dies laughing every time an incident like this happens.
5. People Who Ask For Change From The Offering
It’s one of the tackiest things you can do at church–put a five dollar bill in the collection plate and turn around and ask the usher for three dollars back. The reason I always laugh when this occurs is because well, have you seen the look the usher gives to the person asking for change? It’s always a look that says, “Negro, you lucky I’m in my good clothes in this here church cuz I would bring the whole wrath of God down on you right now!” Honestly, sometimes I hope the usher puts words to that killer look and things get out of hand. Excuse, I was being ratchet.
6. The Soloist Who Can’t Sing
There’s always one person in the choir who’s there because they want to be apart of something. Those people are usually the ones who can’t sing worth a damn. Their terrible singing will turn any congregation in a church into the audience at Richard Pryor’s “Live At the Sunset Strip.” Once you peep the video, nothing else needs to be said.
7. Church Fights
When it comes to church fights, the phrase “laugh to keep from crying” definitely rings true. While it’s always a very trashy thing to have people fighting in a house of worship, the WorldStar voyeur in you makes it so you can’t do anything but watch the circus unfold. With my twisted humor, the fights where the preacher gets punched and therefore must defend himself is the funniest because you can always see the dilemma written on the preacher’s face. Does the preacher turn the other cheek or does he act like a flawed human and clock the other person? We know what the preacher should do, but that doesn’t always happen, now does it?
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