“I Might Have Been Boring”

I introduced Sunday’s sermon with a reflection on the difficulty that Steve Martin had connecting with an audience in New York last Monday. The article which spawned this is here.

Being interviewed by a NY Times writer, Deborah Solomon, the audience grew impatient with their discussion of art, and wanted, apparently, Mr. Martin to talk about his career. So,

“Midway through the conversation, a Y representative handed Ms. Solomon a note asking her to talk more about Mr. Martin’s career and, implicitly, less about the art world, the subject of his latest novel, An Object of Beauty.”

Fitting that story into the sermon was probably a stretch, but I am impressed by Steve Martin’s breadth and depth and found the incident interesting. My mention of it did inspire one creative attendee to plot the delivery of a note to me mid-sermon to encourage me to shift focus, a plot that he never got the gumption to effect.

To bring this full circle, readers might enjoy Mr. Martin’s response to the whole matter, which is printed here. The comedian and the preacher share a common concern that we not lose our audience. Mr. Martin says this:

“Now let me try to answer the question you might be asking yourself at this point: was I boring? Yes, I might have been.”

No one wants to lose an audience and for this reason the comedian and the preacher struggle to NOT be boring. And both, apparently, occasionally fee that they are. But Martin goes on to say that when he is boring, he KNOWS it. So do I.

“I have been performing a long time, and I can tell when the audience’s attention is straying. I do not need a note.”

There is not as much difference between performing and preaching as some might like to think.