For some reason I keep getting questions emailed to me about my Christian comedian past. It seems so funny because that was such a long time ago…another life altogether. I don’t do it any longer, though I appreciate the requests that some of you have sent me. I’m still listed with a booking agency in Nashville, though they’ve not received a call about me in years. At one time I had a major Christian record deal in place…I just never signed it…and chose to walk away from the whole thing instead. This seems to be what I get questioned about the most…why did I walk away? I guess the simple answer is…I went to Oz and saw the man behind the curtain.
CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) is fun…it’s an alternative…but it’s not real. The record companies, management (Scott Hall is the exception), public relations firms and booking agents couldn’t give a hoot about furthering the cause of Christ…just furthering the amount of sales. In the 10+ years I was a full-time touring comedian I was courted by a dozen or so record labels in the CCM marketplace and beyond. In the hundreds of conversations I had with them they never once asked me about my church, my ministry or even if I was a Christian. Yet, every night they’d call me on the road to inquire about product sales, audience head count and what top Christian act I opened for. It was all rather…sad.
It wasn’t just the "suits"…it was also the artists. At times I saw Godly men and women singing for Christ, trying to live a Biblical lifestyle and really striving to reach people with the Gospel. Other times I would see fakes and whores that would talk about Christ from the stage and then would watch porn on the tour bus, pick up groupies backstage (yeah, CCM has them), score drugs near the venue or get "trashed" on Wild Turkey in the dressing room after the show. I was amazed as one top artist had affair after affair on the road and the PR machine just kept spinning the lies. It was years before the artist was caught…and the PR machine had them back on top within months of the "downfall".
In the end…I came to realize I was a whore too. I would dance whatever dance the record company would tell me to in order to get a deal. I would neglect my wife while I lived on a bus or a plane for 200+ days a year. I would spend "off time" in Nashville taking endless meetings with folks that never had my spiritual interest at heart…just their pocket book. I lost money on tours because churches promised great "love offerings" only to find out at the end of the night…I wasn’t loved. I ignored God because I was just too tired, fried and wrecked most nights from "ministering" to read His Word or talk to Him. It was all very dark…very bleak…and very damaging.
I remember the day well…it was in Dayton, Ohio. I was backstage…staring into the mirror of another look alike dressing room…about to open up for a big CCM band…before several thousand people. My thoughts were on selling product…signing autographs…impressing the headlining band…smoozing their management…and rocking the world of the A&R guy that was in the audience to see my set. As I looked into the mirror I noticed…for the first time…what I had become…a fake. I had a haircut that was not me. I was wearing clothes that was not me. I was trying to remember comedy bits written for me by someone else…that was not me. I was delivering my comedy in an over-exaggerated Southern accent…that was not me. Where was Chris Elrod in all of this? Where did I go?
It was at that moment that I decided to leave it all behind and look for the guy that used to be Chris Elrod…a simple follower of Christ. The funny thing is …when I found Chris Elrod…he ended up being the planter and pastor of a small church in a small Central Florida town doing small things with great love. When I discovered him..he was so much happier than the guy in the mirror in Dayton.
To answer the other question I always get…no…I don’t miss it…and I don’t long for it. I am so much better off without that…other life…from another time and place. I am finally the Chris Elrod that God created me to be!