On Our Way to Ocracoke

Well… Carol tested positive for COVID shortly after I did. We isolated and then continued to mask during our rare outings. We did find time and space away from others in Riverside Park not far from our hotel.  I used some of the time to read and journal.  I finished Susan Spark’s book Laugh Your Way to Grace. If you have not read it, I recommend it.  You can learn more about Susan at susansparks.com. 

Rather than fly, we opted to rent a car and drive from NYC to Durham, NC. We made this trip on Thursday. With stops, it took close to 10 hours, and we were glad to arrive. Saturday night we got to see some family outside for a while.

Having spent our time recovering from COVID (minimal symptoms), we head to Ocracoke Island, one of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  This is where Carol and I will take a storytelling workshop with Donald Davis. He is a retired Methodist minister turned full-time professional storyteller.  We first heard him in 1996 as we were expecting Chris, and over the years our family has enjoyed listening to his stories on tapes and CDs as we traveled in the car. You can learn about him at ddavisstoryteller.com. This workshop focuses on helping participants mine their lives for stories and how to craft and tell those stories. 

I have recommended three books to help explore the sabbatical theme.  During worship on Sunday, May 8, I gave out all of the free copies I had. Those who would like to read any of these books but did not receive a copy can order them online with your preferred vendor. I post the covers of those books here.

An Update during Week Three

My third week of sabbatical, as well as my third in New York City, began with Carol’s joining me on Monday. That night I performed at Gotham Comedy Club. Here is the performance. Remember, it’s just comedy.

The next few days, we spent our days walking the city streets and walking Central and Riverside Parks. We saw two shows. The first, “Come from Away,” was perhaps the best play I’ve ever seen, certainly the most moving.  It is about a small town in Newfoundland during the week of 9/11 and their heroic efforts to host thousands of people from planes that landed at their little airport while air space was shut down. It was full of real-life stories of people who experienced that week together. The second, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” is a slapstick comedy about a community theater production of a murder mystery where everything goes wrong with props, with the set, and with the actors–both their egos and their abilities. It was quite funny and quite a contrast from the previous play.

The punchline for my time in NYC came when I was feeling little ill and tested positive for COVID. No joke! So I am now isolating alone in my room at International House while Carol, who tests negative, stays at a hotel and brings me food. We have delayed our flights to North Carolina, which is the next part of our trip.

Two Weeks into the Sabbatical (New York)

Yes, it’s two weeks and one day into the sabbatical. Since blogging last Tuesday, I have performed at nine open mics. To give some clarification these open mics are the kind where comedians pay $5.00 to perform for five minutes in front of other comedians.  This is for practice getting on stage and trying out material to see what works.  The response is not always a great barometer for what’s funny, but it’s better than merely imagining how a joke might go.  Last night, Monday, three friends and I converged to perform at Gotham Comedy Club’s New Talent Night to perform about five minutes each. This was a performance for a sizable paying audience. and it was a real thrill.

The other big event for Monday was that Carol flew into NYC to join me for the upcoming week. Before the show on Monday, we met for dinner with her cousins who live in the area. It was great to see them, and it was so nice of them to attend the show, offering their support and lending their laughs. Today, we expect to spend the afternoon touring Central Park, and we will see a Broadway show. Don’t know what it will be yet, but we are looking forward to it and will let you know.


One Week into the Sabbatical

Today, I am one week into this Sabbatical with the theme “The Comedic Arts for Gospel Truth, Healing, and Joy.” You are reading my second ever blog post. I posted for the first time a week ago, but I promptly forgot how to do it again. So, I had a one-on-one tutorial this morning to help me get started. I commit to at least once a week, but I hope to post more often. I’ll give you a summary of the past week.

I flew into the Newark airport on a red-eye on Tuesday morning, May 10, finding train transportation to my lodging at International House NYC. After I checked in and freshened up, I made my way to Broadway Comedy Club, where I met some nice people and performed five minutes of standup at an open mic. I have now performed at seven open mics. I felt great about some of these. Others? I just decided I would have to do better next time. I met up with a friend to attend Amature night at the Appolo theater. I also attended one Broadway show (American Buffalo with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell, and Darren Criss) and four comedy shows. I also found a great chain restaurant called Sweet Green.  

I am reading Laugh Your Way to Grace by The Rev. Susan Sparks. Sunday morning, I worshiped at Madison Avenue Baptist Church, where she is the pastor. We met and then visited by phone the next day for half an hour, discussing issues of Comedy and Spirituality. I shared my sabbatical plans with her, and she shared some resources with me. 

My Bags Are Nearly Packed

Welcome to this sabbatical Blog.  This is where you can follow my journeys as I travel the world (Okay, the US and Europe) engaging our sabbatical theme:  The Comedic Arts for Gospel Truth, Healing, and Joy.

To engage the congregation in the sabbatical theme, the Congregational Life Committee hosted LACPC Comedy Nite on Friday, May 6. You can watch that comedy night by clicking on this link:

. I hope you enjoy it!

Tonight, I take a red-eye flight to NYC.