“What’s the secret to comedy? Timing!”
My director told me this again and again during rehearsals for a comedic play. It’s true. All comedians know this rule, whether intuitively or because they have the same director as I had. Daniel Tosh is no exception. He recently had a young lady named Marion Jones on his show Tosh.O. Marion came on the show to represent www.untilabortionends.com, a website that promotes prayer and fasting until the demon of abortionism has been exorcised from our country and the world. The mission of this website and its contributors is a courageous, loving and hopeful one. Marion faces the horrible realities of abortion and the culture that defends it. What’s funny about that? Well, with a little expert “timing” on Daniel Tosh’s part, and with the right (or should I say wrong) audience, even the nobility of Marion’s pro-life efforts can get a laugh out of the culture of death.
I recently had a chance to sit down and ask Marion a few questions about her interview with Daniel Tosh, and I tried to give her a more fair shake than he did.
S: Throughout your interview, waves of laughter can be heard from the live audience. Virtually every time the laughter is heard, there is a noticeable jerk in the footage. The film was obviously edited to make the audience more likely to laugh at you. Were you surprised when you saw the final cut?
M: I knew they were going to edit the interview a great deal. Especially since our actual conversation lasted a good 20 minutes. What surprised me was how respectful they were to me in the editing. I’ve seen the show before and I know Daniel loves to make the interviewee look ridiculous. For the most part he never took anything I said out of context and when he did it was in a small or insignificant way. Many of my facial reactions were switched around. I remember the final cut showed me giggling at something he hadn’t said in our actual conversation. That bothered me because I found the statement more offensive than funny. Besides that, the show was very fair in the editing and that was a pleasant surprise.
S: Of course you conducted yourself with dignity and warmth throughout the interview. It would take a shallow viewer to miss that. But, judging from some of the online responses to your interview, lots of young viewers are shallow and might prefer the deprecating, satirical whit of a Daniel Tosh to the sincere, compassionate message of someone like you. Do you think there might be a hardness of heart among TV audiences and net surfers? If so, how do you think these people can be addressed?
M: I think it’s possible to laugh at Daniel’s jokes while still being respectful to the pro-life cause. Although many pro-choice individuals called me incredibly vulgar names and expressed their desires for me to die, I think it is clear that I am coming from a place of love. It is superficial to put me or any other pro-life individual in this “women-hating” box. Viewers who responded negatively are just closed-minded and have this false idea of what a pro-life person is. The only thing we can do about these false stereotypes is to continue to represent ourselves with sincere love and respect. There were a few pro-choice people who sent me very respectful messages while still being firm in their beliefs. They also thanked me for doing the same while on Tosh.0. Respect seems to be something most individuals can appreciate regardless of their stance on an issue.
S: At one point in the interview you told Daniel that, although you understood that his is a “comedy show,” nevertheless the issue of abortion is a serious topic. Abortion is indeed a very serious topic, but you did choose to speak about it on a comedy show. Do you think there are ways in which comedy can be helpful when it comes to ending abortion?
M: In a lot of ways I feel Daniel helped the pro-life argument with his humor. When he says that if it weren’t for abortion he would be raising 15 “kids” he doesn’t care about, and holds up a “frequent abortion card,” stamped with bloody fetuses, it’s offensive regardless of your view on abortion. Daniel’s vulgarity reveals the horror of abortion and I believe people laughed out of discomfort, not because they find killing babies funny. In that way I think comedy can definitely help our cause.
S: Before your interview on Tosh.0 began, Daniel played a few clips from your admirable website www.untilabortionends.com. On the home page of this site is a quotation from another very funny person, Bishop Fulton Sheen: “Prayer united to sacrifice is the most powerful force on earth.” Could you tell me a little about your efforts to promote prayer and fasting for the end of abortion?
M: Many Christians are already doing the prayer part in their own communities, so why not add the power of sacrifice and unite on a national level? We just need to continue spreading the word about Until Abortion Ends through social networking, word of mouth and by setting the example through our own prayer and sacrifices.
S: What did you choose to sacrifice?
M: I originally gave up my iPod. It was over a year ago and at the time it was pretty hard. Now, however, I am rarely in a situation in which I would want portable music. On long flights, when I’m running or studying I may think about my iPod, but it has become less and less difficult. God wants us to fulfill our sacrifices so maybe it’s by His grace that it gets easier. But for me, the easier the sacrifice, the easier it becomes to forget about prayer. So I took on an extra sacrifice to not eat meat. It was one of the things I originally contemplated sacrificing a year ago, but I doubted whether I would actually follow through. Unlike my iPod, this is only becoming increasingly harder, but that’s a good thing for me! I’m praying more.
S: What about you, Marion? As a pro-lifer, what do you want to do with yourself after school? After your taste of fame and comedy on Tosh.O, do you ever think of getting into the entertainment business yourself?
M: Well, I’m Catholic so marriage and children are definitely at the top of my list! Also, I am currently the National Director of I Am Whole Life, which promotes the dignity of all human life from the moment of our beginning to our natural death, regardless of ability, age, status, ethnicity, or sex. It is also the non-profit which started the Until Abortion Ends campaign. I just want to spend my life living the Gospel in whichever ways I feel called. I definitely plan on being involved in the Whole Life cause for the rest of my life.
If you, the reader, would like to give something up for the end of abortion, you can bear witness by telling the www.untilabortionends.com community about your sacrifice. You can add a written or video testimony to the website, or just peruse the accounts of what others have already done to further the cause of prayer and fasting … Until Abortion Ends.