COMEDIAN DAVID GRAHAM BRINGS THE FAMILY-FRIENDLY FUNNY AT ST. CHARLES TREE OF LIGHTS LUNCH
He’s traveled the world making audiences of all ages laugh, opening for Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and George Wallace along the way. Wednesday, Nov. 10, he will be the keynote speaker at the St. Charles County Tree of Lights Luncheon, preaching the word as a full-time minister and comedian.
David Graham, who goes by the moniker of America’s Clean Comedian, fuses Christianity and Biblical scripture with pop culture references and social relatability for a contemporary audience. He will bring his style to the annual event.
“I love God. God loves me,” Graham said. “He wants me to love on his people with the gift that he’s given to me. If I can help to get the organization more money, I’m happy as Ray Charles at night school.”
He said of performing, “The clean comedy was always something that I embraced. I don’t have to use filthy language. I don’t have to talk about body parts to get my point across. God has given me an opportunity to draw pictures with my words and bring it to an audience.”
Graham has been a person of the Lord since he was baptized at 13, he said, after being introduced to a steady stream of Oral Roberts TV broadcasts from his grandmother. His enthusiasm for Christianity bubbled during his teen years, as he encouraged friends to attend church with him.
“By the time I was 10 or 11, I had a different sensibility about the things that were happening to me and for me,” Graham recalled. “I got baptized and saved. I gave my life to God at 13 in 19 none-of-your-business. It was a great moment of absolution. Nobody had to push me into it. I was on fire for God.”
Graham has done well for himself as a comedian, who performs at St. Louis Cardinals functions. Simultaneously, he acts as a pastor and prays with people – often strangers – in times of need, such as if he’s walking through a hospital.
For the Tree of Lights, which is the annual holiday campaign for The Salvation Army, Christmas takes center stage. For Graham’s signature style, Christmas is a perfect time of year to relate with audiences.
Q: Why is it so important for you to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Tree of Lights St. Charles luncheon?
It’s so important to me is because I love God. God loves me. He wants me to love on his people with the gift that’s he given to me. If I can help to get the organization more money, I’m happy as Ray Charles at night school. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. You guys could have asked anybody, but you asked me. I’ve got that real gratitude thing going. Let’s raise some money and help people.
Q: Why is Christmas special for you?
Christmas is that wonderful time where you make time for your loved ones. Christmas is always the sweetest word other than the name Jesus. It reminds you of the best times of your life as a kid. Sharing toys, sharing food, and knowing that you will get something out of it. Christmas is magic. My Christmases were so cool, guys. I got so many toys. You look at the floor and can’t see the carpet. My grandmother would always say the same thing. You can’t take it with you. Christmas when I was 9, you can’t take it with you. When I was 10, you can’t take it with you. When I was 11, you can’t take it with you. I’m like where am I going? I’m going somewhere? I will watch “Rudolph” in May. That’s what Christmas means to me. It’s more special.
Q: What can we expect from your routine?
I am going to do some comedy, some jokes and then some funny stuff. We’re going to talk a little bit about purpose, family. I do a little bit about family discipline, I call it momma’s greatest hits. We’re going to have some fun with that. Talk about being a new parent and marriage a little bit. We’re going to take the mood that God has given and utilize his power and approval to take it to the next level, so we can reach our goal.
Q: Why is The Salvation Army so impressive?
The Salvation Army is impressive because of its longevity and because of how it blesses others how God blesses. God uses imperfect people in the Bible. He’s doing the same thing now. Look at me. If you can’t look at this face and laugh, something’s wrong. He’s using imperfect people. The Salvation Army has utilized people to bless the community for years and years. The Salvation Army is God in flesh, almost like Jesus was. The Bible says that which is done to the least of these is also done to me. We get a chance to do the most we can through this organization, event and big, ugly funny guys like myself.
Q: You’re a minister?
I’m a licensed minister of the gospel, I’m an associate minister for the Westside Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. We are one church with two locations. We have a city campus at 4675 Page Blvd. and a county campus out on Dunn Rd. in North County. It’s been my pleasure to do seven years as a minister. When I’m in St. Louis, I like to be active. I’m a member of the Westside Church for nearly 22 years now. As a minister, I can go to a hospital. I’ll take my Bible and clergy credentials. I’ll go in and speak with a family and pray with them after they give permission to pray. I may be walking out, and another family will see me and say, ‘Excuse me, are you a minister? Would you mind?’ They never have to say the rest of that sentence. God put me here for a reason. I want to fulfill that promise to him.
Q: How do you incorporate comedy into your preaching?
I’m an idiot, first of all. I’m an idiot, that’s the second part. When I write a sermon, I write it organically. I will first use scriptures or many scriptures then I will allow God to let me take it and change that and turn it into pop culture. One of my more popular sermons was “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.” Everybody knows about Michael Jackson. Satan is always trying to start stuff. Let’s get God on this case. Let’s learn about what he says and how we can have the faith to give the power. Faith without works is dead. We can overcome anything. I want people of all ages to be able to say wow, I’m glad I went to church today.
Q: You’re a new dad?
I’m a father of three. I’m going to leave it at that. I want you guys to come out and see what I do live. It’s fun, it’s fun for me, I don’t care if I get a standing ovation. Praise God. I’ve got 96 standing ovations in my life. I’m having the most fun. My 4th grade teacher Ms. Irwin came over one time to intimidate me, and it didn’t work. ‘Ok, Mr. Funny Man, I want to see you use geometry in a sentence.’ The first mistake was giving me an audience. Her second mistake was giving me material. I’m 10 years old and go, ‘I once planted a seed, and it grew and grew and grew until one day it said, Gee, I’m a tree.’ Those kinds of things are what spurred me on. Proverbs 17:22 says laughter is good medicine. It changes your cellular makeup, if not briefly. It can actually promote good health. The outward expression is something positive.
Q: When did you realize that God would be part of your calling?
Good question, I would say early on, when I was 9 years old, my grandmother used to share the Oral Roberts broadcast with me. She would say, ‘Baby, come and watch Oral Roberts with me, I’ll buy you Army men.’ I had a bunch of Army men by the end of the year. By the time I was 10 or 11, I had a different sensibility about the things that were happening to me and for me. I said, I don’t know if it’s too early to give my life to God or not. I got baptized when I was 12. I got baptized and saved. It was a great moment of absolution. Nobody had to push me into it. I was on fire for God. I wanted to take all my friends to church with me. I stayed on fire for years.
Q: Why should people give to The Salvation Army?
Because I will show up at your door. I’m 6’5” and 305 pounds. No, I won’t do that – again. God gave to you. He wants you to give. It’s Luke 6:38, and it says give and it should be given to you. You should take heed to that. Some of us have a lot, some of us don’t have, but when we do, we can give. If we can’t give monetarily, we give time. People needs coats, shelter, so many things. I praise God that I’m not of one those, but I could be. I need to give right now and do what I can to be a blessing right now.
Q: What are your favorite Christmas memories?
My granny was there, my parents, one sibling, a sister. We had all these gifts. Everything was smelling good in the kitchen. My mother used to make the best pies ever. Oh, my goodness. I hated green beans. She would put the green beans on my plate so I would have to eat them to get those good, good pies. My grandmother came and said, ‘Now, this young man has won spelling bees, mathematical contests. He’s the fastest kid in town and has won a dead spring in his school in Tulsa. I had all these accolades and certificates. Not only does he deserve these toys. He deserves those pies.
Q: What’s it like being America’s Clean Comedian?
The clean comedy was always something that I embraced. I don’t have to use filthy language. I don’t have to talk about body parts in order to get my point across. God has given me an opportunity to draw pictures with my words and bring it to an audience. It just comes naturally clean. I pride myself on being and doing something that’s clean enough for church and funny enough for anywhere else. I have monikored my comedy and website comfortcomedy.com. These are the things that everybody can come in and eat. I’m not going to spit in God’s face with filth. That’s what takes my enthusiasm to a new level. When somebody comes to me after a show and says thank you for being so funny and clean, that’s another form of payment.