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Looking for something unique and wholesome for your next banquet comedy entertainment?

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Steve Durkac

In years past I maintained an active banquet comedy schedule, speaking to 20 to 30 events a year while maintaining my wedding officiating ministry. Since started CrossHope Chapel church in 2011, I withdrew my comedy marketing program to focus more on my church pastoral ministry, but I still accept a few speaking presentations as I am able.

Today, I shy away from considering myself to be a comedian, because while my presentations are filled with hilarious stories and even some comedy bits, my primary banquet presentation is as a humorist and a Therapeutic Laughter Consultant.

Back in 2005, when I was working as a Hospital Chaplain I was trained as a Therapeutic Laughter Consultant and am passionate about reminding audiences to “not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 ESV).

Whatever your profession or position in this world, it ain’t getting any easier, is it? We could all join in with Freddie and David (maybe not in perfect key) but at least in empathy, in singing “Under Pressure” about now couldn’t we?

Laughter is God’s natural medicine for the pressures of life, and I am passionate about encouraging it, especially in our relationships with our spouse, families, and employees.

Proverbs 17:22 reminds us that “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Abraham Lincoln, during the heaviness of the Civil War, asked his advisers “Gentlemen, why do you not laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me day and night, if I did not laugh, I should die.”

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Humorous Speaking…

SDWedChapelprofile150Thinking funny has always been a challenge for me, especially as a pastor who has frequently had to hold-back humor in even the most dyer of circumstances. (To make matters worse, I don’t even look or sound like I’d be funny. I look and sound more like one of the Sopranos.)

I grew-up as the middle child of a family of five adopted children, an older sister and brother and a younger brother and sister, and some psychologist suggest that middle children learn to rely on humor to keep peace among siblings.

One of my fondest memories was a Thursday ritual that took place in our Ohio home that was led by father. My dad, myself, and my two brothers would pile in to my parents bedroom where my dad would pull down a 12″ black and white portable TV down from his closet and tune the rabbit ears in to PBS for the 30-minute “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” television program (my mother and sisters refused to give up the “big” RCA consul TV in the living room for what my mother affectionately called “that British crap”).

Humor was just part of our family growing up and it just became ingrained into my thinking. While I seemed to “inherit” an affinity to think funny from my dad, I “inherited” a sensitivity for religion from my mother, which explains my unique perspective to the seriousness of life.

jerryDespite growing up with the influence of Monty Python and Cheech and Chong (popular in my 1970’s world), it was a special comedy program held at my seminary in  the 1980’s that tugged the stand-up comedy want-to’s out of me. It was the day that Jerry Clower, a country comedian and a master storyteller, introduced me to the challenge of storytelling humor without notes, but word pictures that mesmerized my stuffy homelitical brain.

In the 1990’s while serving in pastoral ministry I joined Toastmasters International and with every pastoral move, with local clubs in South Carolina and in Alabama, I was catapulted into Humorous Speaking competitions. I hold the honor of winning awards in local, regional, and even in state level Humorous Speaking competitions.

 

Certified Laughter Leader…

laughtertherapy2_2751While serving as a hospital chaplain I became a Certified Laughter Leader offering therapeutic presentations for patients, care-givers, workforce programs and for just side-splitting laughs through banquet comedy that involves voluntary audience participation in therapeutic laughter exercises with a mixture of hilarious story comedy for a unique evening of wholesome funny entertainment!

It was while working as a hospital chaplain during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that I noticed that patients who suddenly found something to laugh about also seemed to turn the corner in their healing process. That experience led me to an extensive study in the medical benefits of humor and laughter, even becoming a Certified Therapeutic Laughter Instructor and a frequent banquet comedian.

  

He He He, Ha Ha Ha, Ho Ho Ho…

One day while working with Hurricane Katrina victims, as a hospital chaplain, I was struck by the quick turn-around one patient took, when he suddenly found something to laugh about.

georgecarlinOn a follow-up visit, he began to tell me about how he was thinking about something a comedian once talked about. As I was listening to him tell the story, I wanted to jump in and finish for him – because was reciting an old George Carlin comedy bit, called “Stuff.” The bit was one of my favorites!

He shared how he realized that all he lost, was just stuff. He said he got to thinking that he really is thankful that none of loved-ones were lost. I was simple nodding my head, trying not to interrupt. Then he started to recite the comedy bit again, and this time he stopped and said, “Rev, you’re smiling…You don’t know who George Carlin is do you?”

I said, “George Carlin? Of course I do. Before I was ‘Rev’ is was ‘Irev’ – I grew-up in the 70′s near Toledo, Ohio – I know George Carlin.”

He then said, “Well, then you would remember the bit he did on ‘Stuff.’ We both rushed to recount that comedy bit and laughed in his hospital room as we took turns reciting the lines to that comedy bit!

mms_web_cover140I was amazed by the emotional and physical healing that took place for him after that unscheduled session of comedy, humor, and laughter.

That encounter set me off on a serious two year study of the dynamics of humor and laughter and its place in our emotional, physical, and spiritual well being.

In that process, I became a Certified Laughter Leader and discovered medical research and therapeutic practices of laughter that goes beyond entertainment.

I have since taken my message of laughter and humor to local and national media outlets, written the book “Merry Medicine for the Soul,” and am always happy to speak to any audience that wants to laugh more, stress less! As you scroll down you’ll find some video clips and testimonials, too.


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