Humor, Generosity, and the Bible: An Interview with Jeff Foxworthy

With Rebecca on summer vacation with her family, Samantha Curley, the Patheos Movie intern, got the chance to interview Jeff Foxworthy about his role as host of The American Bible Challenge. 

Chicken and Dumplings. This would be Jeff Foxworthy’s team name if he was a contestant on – rather than host of – GSN’s newest show, The American Bible Challenge.

The American Bible Challenge premiers this Thursday, August 23 at 8/7c. Teams of three go head-to-head to see who knows more about the world’s best selling book of all time.

In an interview with Patheos, Jeff said there is a lot about The American Bible Challenge that is similar to other shows he’s been a part of. “Just like, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, there will be those questions that you know and some that you don’t. And when you hear the answer you’ll think you knew it all along.” So what’s different about a game show centered around the Bible?

“No one is doing this show for themselves. This isn’t about you, this is about helping other people.” Each episode the winning team gets $20,000 to give to their chosen charity organization. For example, Jeff pointed to the team of three women from Texas who dream about the 80,000 people they could feed if Minnie’s Food Pantry were to receive that money.

Foxworthy believes most people are more faithful than they let on. If the secular world could see the generosity that is the hallmark of the Christian life, he says, then they would start to see Christianity differently, too. Maybe even read the Bible differently. With this show, the Game Show Network could become the place for changing the Evangelical conversation. And Jeff Foxworthy will be at the center of it all, making us laugh and perhaps teaching us a different means of knowing God.

As a successful and gifted comedian, Jeff doesn’t know why God choose him to do all that he’s done. Aside from hosting the hit show 5th Grader, Jeff is the largest-selling comedy recording artist in history, a multiple Grammy® Award nominee, and bestselling author of more than 26 books. “It’s certainly not because of anything I did; that’s not how God seems to choose.” If not based on smarts, looks, or talent, there’s something to God’s grace that forces us sit back and laugh. Together, with each other.

Humor, Foxworthy says, unifies us. Almost all of Jeff’s comedy comes from paying attention to what happens inside his home and within his family. When people come up to him after his shows saying, “Yes, how did you know that? You must have been inside my house!” Jeff replies, “Exactly. We really are all the same.”

Team Chicken and Dumplings would include Jeff, his mom (who, Jeff says, would hate to be on TV), and Chicken Man, Jeff’s friend from the homeless ministry and bible study he is a part of in Atlanta.

This, more than anything, is the image Jeff gives us of what it means to follow God. It’s family, it’s humor, and it’s generosity. There are times when laughter is the best medicine. And times when the best thing to do with money is to give it away. The American Bible Challenge is situated to teach us both lessons as we learn to laugh, to give, and hopefully to change the way the world understands the Bible.