Forward:I am probably not the best person to write about this topic; first off, I don’t watch Conan as often as I want to, I love him and his interviews are always great, plus his guest stars, my favorite being Will Forte’s Ted Turner, are top notch, I just always seem to forget to watch it. My favorite talk show host is actually Jimmy Kimmel, I can’t tell you why either. I think it’s because he isn’t the best looking, but he makes up for it with his straight forward humor. Which I can relate to, except I’m not as funny as he is.
Secondly, I am probably more guilty than anyone else of wanting to be a Conan. I want to have control, I want to be the one at the desk, the one who has the show named after me. I want everyone to see and know me. Me me me me. By writing this post I am hoping to hold myself up to some sort of accountability. I am hoping that I can start to become more of a Andy than a Conan.
So, if for some reason you don’t know who Conan O’Brien is, please check your pulse, you’re probably dead. If you’re dead and you’re reading this, I’d love to know God’s thoughts on this post, so if you could just tell me what he says that would be awesome. Now, if you don’t know who Andy Richter is that is still not very good, you might not be as hip or up to date with popular culture as you probably should be, so here is a crash course in Andy. (You could just read his wiki page if you want a more in depth look at his wide spanning career.)
Andy, born in Michigan in October 1966 is the side-kick of talk show host Conan O’Brien. First being hired as a writer, he soon moved to side-kick when producers noticed the chemistry between the two. In 2000, after 7 years of working with Conan, Andy took a break and worked on a few projects from 2000-2009. (Most notable are Arrested Development, Madagascar, and my favorite, Suite Life on Deck) Then in 2009 Andy returned to Conan’s side. America rejoiced as we saw the Prodigal Comedian return to his beloved talk show. Then that not funny guy with the weird chin, Jay Leno came around and you know where that goes…
But never fear, in November of 2010 Conan got a new talk show on TBS, and Andy followed.
Caught up? Good, now moving on.
So how does this apply to us as Christians? How can we look at Andy Richter’s life as a metaphor for our Christian walk and faith?
Well I think it’s pretty simple, first we look at Andy’s approach to interacting with guests. Let’s say our beloved Nick Cage is coming out in a new movie, let’s make it a romantic comedy, we’ll call it “Looking” the tag line could be “Looking for love, but also killing bad guys and solving mysteries.”
Sidenote: I don’t think, given Conan’s knack for picking on Nick, that he will ever be on the show. What a sad day for America.
So here comes Nick from behind the curtain, the crowd applauds, they hope that Nick took his happy pills that day, and then once they feel they have honored him enough with their cheers, they sit. And so does Nick, in a chair right beside Conan, but only after shaking Conan’s hand, then Andy’s. Then Andy is forgotten for the time being. The camera pans to Nick and Conan’s conversation, yet Andy is there the entire time, sitting beside our celebrity, Nick.
How does Andy feel about this? Well, I don’t know, because I don’t know Andy, but I can tell you how I would feel, not good.
Because I’m selfish, everyone is to some extent. You may be thinking “Well, I wouldn’t be wanting the attention, I’m more of a behind the scenes person” And yes, that is true, not everyone wants attention or the spotlight in that famous sort of way, some people truly are shy, some people don’t dream of their time to shine in the limelight, but everyone wants and needs attention. You can’t live life hidden in a basement alone, you would go insane. You may want to be there most of the time, but I assure you, put the shyest of people in a basement alone, and in due time they will crave human interaction again. Don’t ask me why, I think it’s the way we’re taught to be.
I originally wanted to say that we are that way because it’s the way we’re wired, but I don’t believe that’s the case. I believe this need to have attention comes from our human condition. (I am not talking about the need to have community, which comes from a deep seeded want to be loved by a creator, and by his creations as well, I am just talking about wanting attention.) Think of your shyest friend, okay? If he or she didn’t want attention why would they buy clothes from a certain trendy place? Why would they decorate their house in some way? Their need for attention may be drastically smaller than yours or mine, but I think they still have that need. It makes us feel good about ourselves. It makes us feel appreciated. We want that.
Being accepted and appreciated are great and wonderful things, we want them, and we need them, I just believe we should go about them in a way that is Christ honoring. We should choose to chanel that attention the correct way.
Okay, so getting back to Andy, without Andy at Conan’s side things would be very different, Andy is there if things go bad, if a jokes needs help, or for commentary on a situation.
The show is never about him, the show needs him and benefits greatly from him, but they don’t need him.
Getting back to my point, I think that as Christians we should try to mold our lives to look more like Andy’s approach to talk show hosting. So lets say Conan would be God in this situation, and the un-beliver would be the guest. We are Andy, as in the role of guiding and helping to explain or fill in an empty place should one arise. We shake hands with the guest, introduce ourself to them, then let God take over. Should the un-beliver, who at this point is hopefully on their way to a personal walk with their savior, have a question, or should they have a season of silence in their walk, we should be there to help them out, to fill in the gaps.
Ultimately we should take a backseat to what God can, and will, do in peoples lives, we cannot, and should not, ever try to save people, we do not have authority to do that. God’s love is the only thing that can save people. We should be used as a tool for God’s love, we should be the container that holds the love, but we should never try to be that love. Are you still with me?
I love working at summer camps, in 2007 I spent a summer working at a camp in Texas, it was hot, and it was hard work. Truth be told, I hated working there. The friends I made were great, the community I found myself in was amazing, but the work itself was very hard. The theme for that summer was ‘Taking a backseat.’ Our work shirts had a picture of an old 1970’s stationwagon on them which made me laugh because if I think about the backseat of a car like that I just think of hippies making babies. They also had ‘Philippians 2’ on them, that however never made me think of stoned out couples making love.
Over that summer we really dug into Philippians 2, I love Philipians 2 because Paul talks about how Jesus gave up his equality with God to come save a lost, broken, and hurting world. He humbled himself to the point of becoming a human being, or a ‘slave’ as Paul says, just for us. The closest thing that my brain can compare that to would be Kim Kardashian giving up all of her fame and glory because she fell madly in love with a hobo.
Go with me here, say Kim meets a homeless man on the streets of LA one day, she and him connect- so much so that she falls in love with him, and she would do anything to get him to love her back. He wants proof of her love though, so Kim gives up everything she has, her fame, her glory, her status, she gives up her ‘heavenly’ life to prove her love to a man who has nothing to offer her. As crazy as it sounds, if we could measure that love and dedication, what Christ did for us would be astronomically larger.
If Christ can do that for us, why do we find it so hard to take that back seat? Like I already spoke about before, I believe it is taught to us, but not because it is a good thing to know. It’s not in the girl scout handbook, you’re not taught it in class, you’re taught it because we see it in everyone. Everyone has their own agenda, politicians like to use Jesus as part of their agenda, both Republicans and Democrats, which is crazy because Jesus does not want his name tied in with those lunatics, Jesus wants to save people and show them love, that’s it. (That’s a whole other topic for a different post though, folks.)
I believe we set ourselves at the top of the agenda because of Satan, plain and simple. Satan is as real as anything else in this world, and he knows that if we all only care about ourselves, he wins. Love never stands a chance of winning when all we do is care about our agenda. Satan knows that if we got together and all decided to show Christ’s love in our everyday actions, if we mimicked our daily life after Christ’s life and message, then we would have a planet full of believers. But we don’t. We, myself included, think about ourselves way too much. I sometimes try to think about how many times a day I think about myself, and then about 10 minutes later I am so disgusted with myself I don’t even want to be my friend. We’re horrible people, really and truly.
I believe if more of us decided to take a back seat, if we worked everyday towards a agenda of loving people and putting our needs second, we could change the world quicker than lighting. Our churches would fill up, and we would be adding thousands to the population in heaven. How glorious would that be?!
How glorious would it be if we became a whole planet of Andy Richters?
I will leave you with this, Ephesians 4 1-16
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”