Comedian John Crist adding some humor to annual Winter Jam contemporary Christian music concert in Fort Wayne

Comedian John Crist will perform with the Winter Jam Spectacular contemporary Christian music concert tour when it stops Feb. 8 at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne. (Courtesy photo)

Many Christian music artists have difficulty crossing over to also reach mainstream audiences, but comedian John Crist doesn’t have that problem.

Crist can go into any comedy club in America, and everybody has a concept of what church is.

“I talk about growing up in the church and being home-schooled,” said Crist, who is touring now with the Winter Jam Spectacular contemporary Christian music concert tour. The Los Angeles resident will be one of the performers onstage when the Winter Jam tour performs Feb. 8 at Memorial Coliseum.

Skillet will headline the concert, which also will feature Fort Wayne’s Addison Agen, the runner-up on this past season of “The Voice” television show, along with Kari Jobe, Building 429 and other performers.

“This is the first time they’ve ever had a comedian on the tour,” Crist said during a recent phone interview during the tour’s stop in Reading, Pa. “It’s an honor for me.”

Local residents may remember Crist from a few appearances he made on “The Bob & Tom Show,” which began on radio station WFBQ, 94.7-FM in Indianapolis, and since has been syndicated nationally, including mornings on WXKE, 96.3-FM in Fort Wayne.

The “Bob & Tom Show” and the Crackers comedy club in Indianapolis had a deal where Crackers performers would go on the radio show for a brief appearance, which helped promote their comedy club appearance, Crist said.

He’s also a hit on the internet, with more than 150 million views of his comedy videos such as “The Millennial Marriage Proposal,” “Millennial International” and “Road Rage in the Church Parking Lot.” Crist now performs more than 200 live comedy shows a year and has been a top performer on various comedy talent shows.

Crist wasn’t sure how he would be received on Winter Jam, but concertgoers seem to enjoy his performance as a short break from the music.

One of the challenges, however, is that many people at the concerts attend to see a particular music artist. Just as some of the music performers, he has to start off with a little autobiographical material so the audience gets to know him.

He sticks to what he knows: Growing up in the Christian church, being the son of a pastor, going to school at home and serving as a worship leader at church. There’s plenty of comedy material in all of that, he said.

He typically also shares a little of his own faith journey, he said.

Crist said he also has benefited from changing trends in comedy.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, comedians seemed to go for shock value, he said. Now people can see all of the shock comedy they want on YouTube.com and the internet. So live comedy has been drifting back to material you can enjoy with your parents and family, he said.

But he’s not out to use comedy to win souls for God.

He likens it to a cobbler making shoes: It’s not necessarily the cobbler’s goal or mission to make shoes with reference to God all over each pair. The cobbler honors God by using his talents to make the best shoes possible.

“What people decide to do with the comedy after I release it is up to them,” he said.

WINTER JAM

WHAT: The Winter Jam Spectacular contemporary Christian music concert will feature music artists Skillet, Kari Jobe, Building 429, and Fort Wayne’s Addison Agen, comedian John Crist and other performers. Addison reportedly is scheduled to perform in the middle portion of the concert.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Feb. 8

WHERE: Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.

COST: $15 per person at the door. Parking is $5, main lot, and $8, preferred lot.

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