Christianity and comedy seem like an unlikely combination, but for Christian comedian Cliff Prang it is a way of life.
“It’s tricky, but authenticity and honesty really is what it comes down to. It’s about being honest with who you are and what you believe and what you are passionate about. It is about not being afraid to challenge the church and not being afraid to represent Christ in the comedy club,” Prang, former Briercrest pastoral leadership student, explained.
“Audiences laugh at me when I say I used to be a pastor, but when I tell people at my church I want to be a comedian they pray for me. I know where I fit now and I know what my gifts are, but it’s like I don’t totally fit in the comedy scene and I don’t totally fit in church.
“It’s one of those things where I just fit. I am making one of those choices where I am who I am and these are the gifts I have; these are my passions and I just do it.”
Prang discovered his love for comedy while trying to figure what he was good at during his high school years.
“It was a discovery that became a passion that became a talent. I was just looking for a place to fit in and realizing one of the things I seemed to do well was make people laugh,” he explained.
“I wasn’t big enough to play sports and other things just didn’t work out the way I hoped so by default I got involved in an improv club, which then turned into auditions, which then turned into a team, which turned into competitions year after year that were successful.”
While Prang had a strong desire to perform comedy, the idea of pursing it full-time took some convincing.
“I worked at a church as a youth and young adults pastor, still getting opportunities to do school assemblies and the odd show here and there. Then it was like, ‘man I really want to do this, but it just doesn’t make sense,’” he said.
“Then last year I ruptured my Achilles tendon so I was forced to sit on the couch and really think. Then my wife and I were talking after she went to a conference and we were asking ‘what if?’ and ‘what are the boundaries we put on ourselves, and why are we afraid to pursue things we feel God has put in us or that we are passionate about?’”
It was this conversation with his wife that set things into motion.
“When I went back to work I sat down with my boss and was like ‘I don’t know what to do,’ and he told me I knew what I wanted to do, but I was too scared to do it. Not in those words exactly, but that is what he told me,” Prang explained.
“I actually cried because I knew everything inside my heart was telling me it was time to put my feet forward. I wanted to perform and it was important.”
Following his heart, Prang decided it was time.
“I have my own company now called Cliff House Event Entertainment. I emcee events, I do a one-man kind of show with standup storytelling and with a bit of improv. As well, my brother-in-law and I do improv together,” he said. “This is what I have been made to do. It is a variety of everything.”
Prang said he is very grateful for this season in his life and feels, although he is not preaching in a formal church setting, he can certainly use his comedy to reach people for Christ.
“In a club I am not preaching, but what I am doing is talking about the importance of family and raising kids and talking about those values. I am letting God work through me,” he explained.
“I can do this through simple things like making specific choices about content. Even though something might feel funny, if it is something grotesque I can say, ‘no, this doesn’t build up my audience, this doesn’t represent Christ in me.’”