On Friday January 15, 2010 I was interviewed at my residence by two officers from the U.S. Department of Justice about a law enforcement matter. One of the officers asked me: "Are you looking for a spiritual connection in life?" (Yes, he really asked that!) I suppose the following piece I wrote on September 15, 1994 is responsive in some way to that question. What I'm really looking for is fame and a book contract! To me that's a spiritual striving -- as it was for Jesus Christ.
[interviewer]: I suppose you’re frequently asked how you got to be a Messiah.
[Jesus Christ]: As a matter of fact, I’m asked that question quite often. You know, I started out in stand up. But, it's not easy, comedy. Sometimes audiences don’t laugh. It’s hard work; comedians die a thousand deaths. I used to come home after a show, and I was spent. I would think: there must be some other line of work where you die just once and that would be it. Then the idea came to me. Messiah, sure. A Messiah, a really good Messiah--believe me, there are a lot of second-rate Messiahs--a really good Messiah is set for life. One death, a resurrection--it’s a career in itself. And if you’re really lucky there's the book contract.
[interviewer]: How did you first conceive the idea of Mary Magdalene, the hooker-turned-penitent?
[Jesus Christ]: I’ll let Mary answer for herself.
[Mary Magdalene]: We were going to read a scene together: the famous one where I dry Jesus’s anointed feet with my hair--sort of meet to see if we got along. And Jesus was eating a bowl of cereal, got the cereal and milk in his mouth, and I said, “To hell with it,” sat on the floor and we shot the shit for a while. I had a good feeling about Him as soon as I met Him. He was exactly where He should be as a levelheaded person. I think the appeal of Jesus is that people watch Him and feel like “Oh, yeah, that guy is just like my friend.”
[interviewer]: Like the saying goes, “You’ve got a friend in Jesus.”
[Mary Magdalene]: Exactly.
[interviewer]: How did you feel about not winning the Emmy?
[Mary Magdalene]: Best female penitent in a supporting role? It was a disappointment, of course, not to get industry recognition for a role than is, from a personal grooming standpoint, a real bitch. I mean, I dry Jesus’s feet--wet, anointed feet--with my hair and then I can’t do a thing with it.
[interviewer]: Back to the issue of the writing. Some of the writing seems to have lost its bite.
[Jesus Christ]: Let me tell you the way I see it. The words we use most often, talking with writers around the office, are lack of quirky. If it’s not quirky and odd, if it seems like something you could see someplace else. . . . So, we place this premium on quirkiness and oddness, always have, always will. When we started doing this thing, other people had already had some success with an assortment of plagues, killing of the first-born, parting of large bodies of water, and so forth. I told my writers when we first started, “We need something so quirky, so bizarre that for generations, for millennia even, people will say, “That’s incredible.” So, we came up with this idea of resurrecting the dead. But we didn’t stop there. There was also the bit about walking on water, and of course, my favorite, the virgin birth. I’m very proud to have brought these concepts before the public.
[interviewer]: And of course, you also came up with Mary Magdalene, the hooker-turned penitent.
[Jesus Christ]: Yes, I did. But, when you say the writing has lost its bite, I have to disagree. The quirkiness, the oddness, it’s all still there. What’s changed? I’ll tell you what’s changed. Audiences have changed. Take the virgin birth. Now there’s an idea that I thought would be perceived as so unutterably bizarre that it would never lose its novelty value. But it has lost its novelty value. Overexposure. These days, you mention the virgin birth and you get nary an eyelash quiver. It’s become so mainstream. Today, people think it actually happened. You’re always hearing about these “virgin Mary sightings.” You know, people are always saying “I saw the virgin Mary.” First, I’ll tell you this, Mary was no virgin. Sometimes I’m in front of a crowd and people will cry out, “Where’s the virgin Mary?” I have to tell them, “The virgin Mary’s out there, but I’m the star of the goddamn show, and I’m here.” Let me explain that those people -- Mary, Paul, Lazarus -- are, in fact, fictional characters.
[interviewer]: By the way, where did you come up with the idea of resurrecting the dead?
[Jesus Christ]; Actually, that goes back to my days in stand up. I was killing them in one of my shows killing them. Then a fat guy very near the front of the hall plotzed over, dead. Or so it seemed as the group around him began tentatively lifting the man’s forehead off the tablecloth and calling for a doctor. The houselights went up. I stood at stage front, mike in hand. The abrupt equation, if you’re the comedian on stage, is you die.
[interviewer]: How serendipitous!
Born in Bethlehem ("It means ‘House of Food’ in Hebrew,” he’ll say), Jesus opens his best-selling book (The New Testament, what else?) with an evocation of riding, sandals on camel back, in his father’s general contracting company caravan.
[Jesus Christ]: It was kind of a Zen thing. You know the student-teacher dialogues. It’s where I got the idea for the catechism. I would ask questions and my dad would answer.
[interviewer}: Your father was a carpenter?
[Jesus Christ]: General contractor. He did pre-fabs throughout the Judean Hills and the Sea of Galilee area. Somehow that was our little place, the camel. I’d drive with him on the camel and ask those questions and he’d answer. You know, explaining to me about the different size brains that people have. Usually based on the cost of the product they deal in.
[interviewer]: I know you said you wanted to make a career out of your death and resurrection, but was it always a given you’d play the Messiah?
[Jesus Christ]: . . . as opposed to . . .
[interviewer]: . . . as opposed to, say, a big-city mayor?
[Jesus Christ]: That’s no accident. I’ve always had religious leanings, what with my early fling with Zen and Scientology, and I always hate when religious fanatics come up with these little jobs for themselves on TV shows--like Jerry Falwell with his political shtick. You know what you are, you’re really a religious fanatic. I wanted to be as comfortable as I could, so I stuck with that. I mean, when I get up onstage, that’s not really me. I don’t talk in homilies and sermons all day. It’s just an act. But it is me. I’ve been doing that for two thousand years, and I’m used to being up on stage, performing.
With all due respect to Christianity’s Messianic verve, it may well have languished, yes, and died without hope of resurrection, in the gloom it knew as the 40th most popular religion in the Roman Empire, and so the early church fathers moved its Sabbath to Sunday, the time slot immediately after the Jewish Sabbath.
[Jesus Christ]: They tried every other place they could think of, but we needed that Sunday spot. To us, very quickly it was a great religion, the people making it were excited about the religion as we are now. And whether people caught on or not was something you just kind of watched and observed.
[interviewer]: I’ve heard that your initially scheduled plans for death and resurrection were pre-empted.
[Jesus Christ]: That’s true. My death and resurrection had originally been planned for early 91, but then came the Jewish revolt against Rome. I had gotten on my camel home that night carrying warm trade reviews for the planned death and resurrection, set to take place just hours later. Then the announcement came: "The war for the liberation of Judea has begun.” Jewish revolt coverage had pre-empted the resurrection. Jewish zealots were jumping off of mountains at places like Masada. Finally, after some more time in the wilderness I got my crucifixion and my resurrection, I got my time slot on Sundays right after the Jewish Sabbath, and the rest is history, baby. Tell you the truth though, I’m glad I died when I did--at Passover. If the resurrection had been delayed any more, I might not have been crucified until late summer. Instead of Jesus’s Last Supper, they’d be plastering church ceilings with pictures of Jesus’s Last Summer.
[interviewer]: What would that have been like?
[Jesus Christ]: Lots of Mediterranean surf and topless wenches. Can you imagine Da Vinci’s depictions of Jesus’s Last Summer? Now that would have been a wild scene!
Comedians die a thousand deaths, but a Messiah--a really good Messiah--dies but once.
10 Tishri 5755