Hollywood has issued the 11th commandment: Thou shalt laugh. That's also the title of a DVD, released today, featuring seven comedians—all Christians—delivering some of their best stuff.
"Thou Shalt Laugh" is out on DVD Tuesday. (Warner Home Video)
"Thou Shalt Laugh," hosted by Emmy-winning actress Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), isn't overtly "Christian" in content. There's no "You might be a Christian if …" gimmick akin to Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck if …" Rather, "Thou Shalt Laugh" just delivers humor fit for everyone—quite a feat for a collection of comedy routines.
Producers Hunt Lowry and Jonathan Bock looked at more than a hundred comedians before assembling their list of seven: Thor Ramsey, Michael Jr., Jeff Allen, Teresa Roberts Logan, Joby Saad, Gilbert Esquivel and Taylor Mason.
Almost all do straight-up comedy, with Taylor Mason specializing in ventriloquism. Mason, Thor Ramsey and Gilbert Esquivel stand out.
Don't worry: There will be no quoting of lines, as delivery is part of the fun, and that can't be duplicated here. (But you can watch some clips at http://www.thoushaltlaugh.com/media.html.)
Ramsey has both hilarious content and delivery and can make just about anything funny. Esquivel focuses on ethnic humor, while Jeff Allen specializes in humor about family relationships.
The show lasts 90 minutes and is book-ended by the best: Ramsey and Mason. Really, the weak link here is host Heaton.
She appears to have been chosen because she was on a hit show and she's a Christian—not because she's a good host for a comedy show. I like Heaton, but hosting this kind of thing is definitely not her gig.
The production, distributed by Warner Home Video, was overseen by Phil Cooke, a veteran director of various religious programs.
Producers Hunt Lowry and Jonathan Bock are also Christians. Lowry is a successful producer of films such as "A Walk to Remember," "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" and "Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie." Bock is president and founder of Grace Hill Media, a PR firm that handles much of Hollywood's marketing to the religious set.
The producers are having fun with the release by declaring November "National Adopt an Unfunny Christian Month." The cure for unfunny Christians, they say, is of course watching "Thou Shalt Laugh."
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
MPAA Rating: Unrated. Reviewer's Note: Nothing objectionable.
Director: Phil Cooke
Cast: Patricia Heaton (host); Thor Ramsey; Michael Jr.; Jeff Allen; Teresa Roberts Logan; Joby Saad; Gilbert Esquivel; Taylor Mason.
The show's official Web site is here.
Buy "Thou Shalt Laugh" now from Amazon.com.