Who is your audience?
Writers, entertainers, and perhaps especially comedians, ask this question. Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is one of the top
earning comedians in the world today. He garnered his fame, not in small part, due to one of his characters (dummies) named "Achmed the Dead Terrorist". Dunham and Achmed have millions of views on Youtube.
You might imagine this bit plays better in Cleveland than in Abu Dhabi. In fact, "Achmed" was banned in Malasia. Realizing, however, that his audience expected Achmed, Dunham resolved the issue by introducing Achmed's French cousin, Jacques, the dead French terrorist. It was Achmed in disguise.
Dunham's interest is comedy, not social commentary. However, can we speak of the unspeakable, like terrorism, when it is unsafe to laugh? Few things are more poignant than the tender, personal stories told at wakes and memorial services which make us smile, even laugh. Some of the most important public figures in the days following 9/11 were comedians - those who helped us learn to laugh again. It is in these tender moments when "they" becomes "us".
As I reflect on how we might communicate as a church, I am inspired by many who do it well in a faith-based context. GeezMagazine.com describes itself this way:
"The Geez project is a discussion among people of faith seeking social justice. Our readers and writers express this through art, activism, contemplation and a “more-grounded, inter-connected” approach to living."
To potential writers, they say this about their audience:
Write as though your audience will include:
- disgruntled children of hook-line-sinker conservative Christians
- spirited activists
- over-churched souls (who still believe the world needs some soulful change)
- people who haven’t darkened a church door in years but can’t help but get drawn into the discussion of faith
- those who feel an irresistible urge to downshift their lives"