I was driving through Wisconsin recently, and I discovered that if you are not a Wisconsin native, the names of their cities make very little sense… and this is coming from a guy from Minnesota!
For example, Plover, Wisconsin is not named after the Plover bird. No, I learned this lesson whilst driving 26 mph through the city of Plover in an area where the speed limit was 25, when a cop pulled next to me and yelled, “PL-OVER!”
It was an expensive lesson.
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin doesn’t seem to have an explanation behind its name. So, I made one up for myself. Looking down, I realized that this is my middle toe… this small one is my pinky toe… and this big one is THE WAUATOSA! From henceforth, I shall call my pinky toe weeweetosa; and my misshapen toe the FunkyTosa.
Won’t you please take me to FunkyTosa?
Kickapoo, Wisconsin comes from a game that is very similar to peek-a-boo… only much more painful.
La Grange, Wisconsin is named after the French word for “The Barn Door”… proving once again that it is often best not to translate French into English.
Then there is New Holstein, Wisconsin. I can only assume that they thought New Holstein had a more regal tone than “Calf, WI”.
Onalaska, Wisconsin seems to have been named by a fella whose strong suit was not geography. This place is nowhere near, beside, under, nor on any part of Alaska!
Rock Falls, Wisconsin must have been named by Captain Obvious. He also named the townships of Rock Bruises and Rock Hurts.
Then there is St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. I don’t even want to know how they discovered that fact… were they playing “Trip the Reverand”?
Superior, Wisconsin… really? I’ve been there many times, and I have never looked around and thought, “Clearly this is the best place in the universe!” Paris? Rome?… no, Superior! I’ll admit they have a few more amenities than Kickapoo, but c’mon… Superior??
I drove past the city of Cheboygan, Wisconsin. Sadly, the word Cheboygan didn’t catch on as well as the word Shazam! I was trying to figure it out and then Cheboygan! It hit me!
Have you ever been to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin? How many O’s do you need in a city name, anyway? Then again, of all the vowel choices their founding fathers could have made, O is probably the best. It could have been Icinimiwic…Ecenemewec… Ucucumuwuc… I think they should just go for broke and through out the consonants altogether.
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, I grew up in Ooooo.”
Now that would be a name that’s easy to spell!
Next, my friend Joshua Jordan joins the show. Josh has been doing stand up comedy and illusions for a mere four years. But he has road stories to share! For instance, before he rose to the level where people would hire him to come speak and entertain at their event, putting him up in a nearby hotel, churches would hire him and they would put him up in “host homes”… which are basically local church members who volunteer their guest room for him to sleep in.
A few years ago, Joshua was about 25-years-old, performing in Oregon. And the couple who was hosting him was in their late-30’s or so. They invited him in, told him that his room is down the hall, so he could put his bag and stuff down and get settled, and they invited him back to the family room where they were just about ready to watch a movie together. One of the first things Joshua noticed was that there were photos of their dog EVERYWHERE. We’re not talking a Polaroid here and there… we’re talking framed glamour shots of their dog!
And Joshua is NOT a dog person.
“Don’t worry about our dog, Peaches,” they assured him. “Peaches is afraid of meeting new people and so you probably won’t even see her.”
“But what’s up with all the pictures?” Josh had to ask.
Monica, the host-wife replied, “Well, when I was nine-years-old, my dad had cancer and was under hospice care. The doctors had only given him a few weeks to live, but he told them that if he could live until my birthday – which was ten months away – and give me the present he has in store for me, then he would die a happy man.”
So, Monica’s family tried to convince him to give her the present early, since the odds were not likely that he would live that long. Being a stubborn man, though… he insisted. Miraculously, her dad lived to see her birthday and gave Monica the gift he so desperately wanted to offer her – a puppy!
Needless to say, Monica and her entire family have a very strong connection with her father through Peaches.
After hearing the story, Joshua felt terrible that he didn’t appreciate dogs – especially Peaches – more than he does.
So, they sit down to watch the movie, and midway through, this old, old… OLD dog – Peaches, at this point, was only a year-and-a-half away from the Guinness record of the oldest living canine – saunters into the family room. Peaches then proceeded to pounce right on Josh’s lap!
“Peaches never does this!!” the couple exclaimed. “This is incredible! Go get the camera!”
Josh played the part of a grateful guest and posed for photos, and let Peaches sit on his lap for the continuation of the movie. After the movie, Monica went upstairs to get something and her husband went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. This was Joshua’s chance to move the dog off of his lap without them being aware.
So, Josh wiggles about and tries to scoop Peaches off of him… and Peaches is dead!
The dog was dead on his lap!
Joshua began fervently praying for a Lazarus moment right there – he needed God to resurrect Peaches from the dead!
As Joshua sat there sweating and panicking, the couple returned… still filled with joy that Peaches has chosen to be friendly to their guest and sit on his lap. And, for the next ten minutes, Josh sat there on their couch… petting a dead dog, trying to pretend that there is nothing out of the ordinary going on!
Finally, everyone realized that Peaches had met his maker. Joshua thought that the rest of his stay there would be filled with mournful tears. But, instead, Monica lovingly looked at Josh and said, “Oh, that’s okay… now, my daddy lives through you.”
Things could only get better from there for the upcoming comic!
Next, I’m incredibly excited that John Crist found the time to join us.
He’s been at “the stand up game” for seven years… which means he’s practically a rookie playing in the major leagues! But, he didn’t come out hitting home runs at his first plate appearance. His very first stand up joke went like this:
It was summer, so he had tan arms, and he came out to the stage, grabbed the mic and said, “My skin gets real dark in the summer and people ask me what race I am. The easiest way to describe it is,
‘Well… I’m not white… I’m more like wheat.’”
His joke was not received well… and probably it shouldn’t have. It says something about his confidence on stage though, that he would come right out with his first words to an audience waiting to be thrust into laughter… and he pulled the race card.
He followed up his “white/wheat” line with this:
“Actually, my dad is white… but my mom is nine-grain.”
It’s a wonder why he didn’t just quit comedy right then.
But, he’s evolved from white bread humor these days and is making people laugh all across the nation… though he still uses his parents as inspiration, especially the lies they told him as a kid:
“Remember when you would dig a hole in the yard and ask your mom where you’d dig to if you just kept on digging?
Mom would always respond by telling me, ‘You’ll dig do China, son!’
That had to be the lousiest geography lesson… EVER! There’s no way I’d end up eating kung pao if I kept on digging!
Then, Mom would also tell me that if I swallowed my gum, it would stay in my stomach FOREVER. This couldn’t be at all, because one morning, I swallowed a nickel and it came out that very afternoon!”
Now, early on in his comedy career, John bombed night after night at the local bars who had open mic nights. One joint, in particular, would have comedic competitions, where the audience would vote on the best comic at the end of the night, and the winner would have their dinner paid for.
It was like winning the Oscar the first time John got free cheese sticks!
It was a simple prize, but it validated John’s gut feeling that he could make a living by making people laugh.
Not that it’s always been easy. Just a few months ago, after running and running… then chasing after the wrong goals, John found himself doing things he’d never imagined a nice, Christian comic would end up doing and checked himself into rehab.
Since then, the past few months have been some of the best and richest he has ever experienced, both professionally and personally.
One of the keys to his contentment is learning how to… well, be content.
Like Kevin Durant, who recently signed a contract with the Golden State Warriors, thinking that would be the quickest and easiest way to win a championship – even though he had just made it to the division championships, has been a league MVP and scoring champ… it’s not enough until he gets an NBA title. Similarly, for many comics, you could be living comfortably, doing what you love, but it’s not enough until you get a Netflix special. Then, once you get a Netflix special, it’s not enough until you sell out Madison Square Garden. Comics are always thinking that “the thing we don’t have” is going to be “the thing that will bring us contentment”.
So, John has learned that knowing the truth of where contentment, joy and happiness comes from is one thing… but knowing that there is hope in God and His love for us is really the key.