An Examined Life 3: Jeffrey Jena

An Examined Life 3: Jeffrey Jena October 20, 2014


Comedian Jeffrey Jena, one of my closest friends on the planet, joins the show as we reminisce about our hazy early days in stand up comedy – which leads directly to memory loss due to getting older and frying brain cells when we were younger.

You see, where some people have problems remembering things and simply blame it on a “senior moment”, Jeffrey and I know that there are entire sections of our cranium that were burned out at a Led Zeppelin concert in the mid-70’s.
But how does this affect people who tell jokes for a living?
What happens to the jokes that no one gets?
It’s all very scientific, really. The joke continues its motion without anything impeding its progress until it gets dissolved into the ions of the atmosphere. It thin reaches the ears and mind of someone who does get the joke.
Which explains the homeless guy on the corner who randomly breaks out in uncontrollable laughter.
See? Science. Even in a faith-based podcast!
Jeffrey chalks up his approach to things to his Jesuit education where he was taught to doubt everything: Buddhism, Hinduism, Marxism, Islam…everything. Sadly, this often leads to the top students doubting their own faith and the Jesuit teachers end up creating agnostic or atheist students.
It was this process of doubting everything that kept Jeffrey from attending any church whatsoever for many years until he met his wife who was attending a Methodist church in California. At the time, he simply found it easier to go along in order to get along, so he dutifully sat in the pews from week to week.
That was until the pastor cornered and confronted him after a Sunday service.
“You’re not buying any of this are you?” the pastor asked.
It was then that Jeffrey honestly faced his doubts.
The pastor then replied, “Do you think that God wants you to leave your brain outside when you come into church? Bring your doubts in. If I’m preaching and something I say doesn’t make sense, stand up and ask right then and there and I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability.”
It was his pastor’s openness and teaching and Jeffrey’s wife’s patience and encouragement that helped guide him back into the Good Shepherd’s flock.
But it was a different set of circumstances that paved Jeffrey’s road toward sobriety. Long before he had even met his wife, he found himself at death’s doorstep after a three-day binge on booze and coke that almost got his attention. But that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until he spent an evening in the Raleigh drunk tank that he realized he didn’t want to be like his cellmates anymore.
While in a recovery program, Jeffrey realized that his own major personal fault was lying. Even to the point of being able to lie to himself. In fact, when he stopped drinking and drugs, he had simply moved his compulsive addiction to gambling and continued to lie to himself that he was clean.
So, then it took a few bouts with a compulsive gambling addiction for him to realize that his underlying, deep, true problems were character flaws that could only be cleaned out with divine help. So, it was his relationship with Christ that finally helped him thoroughly examine his life and understand who he was behaving like compared to who God had created him to be.
Once clean, and after fighting alongside his wife in her long battle against breast cancer, they were told that they could never have children of their own. There was simply too much damage done to her body from several rounds of chemo and multiple surgeries. But, sometimes God knows better than doctors and adoption agencies.
You can imagine their surprise when the pregnancy test stick showed positive when she was the ripe age of 44!
Therefore, Jeffrey truly looks at his son as a “Miracle Boy”! He’s a straight-A student, which only proves that there’s something miraculous about him, considering who the boy’s dad is.
This, even though Jeffrey used to be a fifth-grade teacher. 40 years ago, he taught in Houston, but was blown away that despite the best efforts of the teachers, discovered that he was teaching ten and eleven-year-olds who couldn’t read at all – not just below grade level, but AT ALL.
That’s what drove him from a “real job” and into comedy.

For more about Jeffrey’s story, his comedy or just to drop him a line, check out or you can connect with him on Facebook or Twitter @JeffreyJena

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