For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Deity is an ongoing series on YouTube, featuring Brian Dalton as writer, director, and star of the eponymous series.  Mr. Deity is a fast-talking 21st century take on Yahweh, complete with his son, Jesse/Jesus, Larry, the omnipresent holy ghost, and adversary Lucy (fer), doing three to four minute sketches, usually riffing on various shortcomings of the bible and its god.  Frequently highlighted are Mr. Deity’s cluelessness about the impact or consequences of his master plan (such as it is), script checks with Jesse/Jesus regarding his dad’s plans for him, and frequent friction with Lucy, who comes across as far more pragmatic and grounded than her heavenly counterpart.  Guest stars have included such secular lights as blogger P. Z. Myers, author Michael Shermer, and geologist Donald Prothero.  The scripts bristle with well-written repartee, double-entendres and horrid puns, usually with a kicker last line just before roll-credits.  It’s first-drawer stuff which should have Dalton & Co.’s audiences rolling in the aisles.

With one notable exception (the author tips a cap he’s not wearing).  I watched perhaps a couple dozen episodes on YouTube recently.  Certainly there were more than a few lines that jerked a chuckle out of me, but little more than that.  Someone might accuse me of having a poor sense of humor and they wouldn’t be far off at all.  My problem (if it is one) is that I have never been much for humor at someone else’s expense.  That includes blond, fat-guy, Polish or other ethnic humor, embarrassing surprises, practical jokes, and variations on those themes.  One might deduce that I have been the butt of such shenanigans, and one would be right, but that isn’t the point here.  The point is that, if the bible is to be believed, we’ve all been the butt of the most comprehensive, ongoing marathon of practical jokes ever conceived, the jokester being the aforementioned Mr. Deity, and no, I do not mean Brian Dalton.  H. L. Mencken once suggested that god was a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh, and in part he was quite correct.  That portion of the world which belongs to his fan club might well not laugh easily, but then laughter is unlikely with a gun to one’s head.  In my case, however, I’m not laughing because:

  1. The jokes have never been funny.
  2. The punch lines have frequently been beyond tragic to certain parties:
    1. Torquemada’s victims
    2. The Jews under Hitler
    3. Anyone on the wrong end of a sword during the Crusades
  3. Those who believe in the joker can’t let go of their belief, which in turn perpetuates too many of the “jokes.”

While watching those vignettes, there were too many times when I wanted to kick that smarmy Deity’s nuts through his nostrils, because of his self-involved attitude, lack of empathy, and monomaniacal obsession with a “plan” which has all the organization of the Keystone Kops.  True, what I’m really mad at are the snake-oil salesmen who push their misconceived joke book on an unsuspecting public and the fatuous dolts who swallow it all whole.  That doesn’t change the fact that I find nothing remotely funny about religion in general and Christianity in particular when I consider the harm it has brought and continues to bring while simultaneously being held as an essential part of society by too many of its members.

I’ll stipulate that what Brian and his troupe are doing is very well crafted satire, ridiculing a most deserving target.  His work may very well cause people to recognize the foolishness of faith and its proponents, and I hope it does.

Just don’t ever expect me to laugh at it.

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Comment by Loren Miller on November 3, 2014 at 3:38pm

Joan, I think you already know the answer to that one!  [grin!] Please, and with my compliments!

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 3, 2014 at 3:37pm

Brilliant as usual! Wish I could write so clearly and powerfully. Care to share it on Facebook? 

I also like the quote, "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. I Tweeted and Facebooked it. 

Comment by Idaho Spud on November 3, 2014 at 1:36pm

I like that quote as well Loren.

Comment by Loren Miller on November 3, 2014 at 1:33pm

Idaho. that correlates pretty well with a quote I ran onto a while back and which I think speaks to the issue of morality and religion about as well as any I know of:

If it takes the threat of hell to make you a moral person, then you are not at all moral, you are just a coward who responds well to threats.
-- Leo Wolf

Comment by Idaho Spud on November 3, 2014 at 1:30pm

Mostly interesting interview of Brian Dalton.  I didn't know he was Mormon.  That's probably because I don't find Mr. Deity funny, so never took an interest in Brian.

I didn't care for the first ~1/3 of the interview because Brian was not giving any specifics, and it got rather boring.  It got better in the last ~2/3s.  I especially liked what he said about Dawkins and Hitchens. 

I also liked what he said about integrity.  He said something like the following:  To say that you need some big being standing over you, saying you better do this, you better do that, or you're going to hell....If you want your kids to be good for goodness sake, that's not it.  That's being good to get the brownie points to get you where you want to go in the next life.  That's not creating a person of true value and integrity.  That's a person living in Fear.  And a person living in fear is a person who can be easily manipulated to do great evil.  We've seen it thruout history.  It's not in dispute.

Comment by Loren Miller on November 3, 2014 at 9:04am

One thing I want to be clear about in the midst of all of this: it's the character Mr. Deity I'm not wild for, NOT Brian Dalton.  Brian seems to have his head screwed on straight for the large measure, and the following interview from the YouTube user mormonstories corroborates that pretty well:

Comment by Loren Miller on November 2, 2014 at 10:41am

I find them "interesting," Luara and occasionally humorous, but it's a black humor which cuts way too close to the truth to be funny to me.  My idea of funny is humor of the absurd or the brand of benign exaggeration which Bill Cosby used to make his living on.  Stupid-humor or angry-humor or the humor which Mr. Deity is based on doesn't resonate with me worth a damn, and I don't think it ever will.

Comment by Luara on November 2, 2014 at 7:15am

I haven't enjoyed the Mr. Deity episodes I've seen.

Comment by Loren Miller on October 31, 2014 at 8:14pm

Totally agreed, Pat, and I told Brian as much in the comments.  He says that many people disagree, though he also observed that gallows humor can be problematic.  To me, that's sorta like saying that handling pure nitroglycerin can be problematic, very nearly.

Comment by Loren Miller on October 31, 2014 at 12:43pm

Funny you should mention "self-absorbed," Pat.  Here is a piece Brian did in his Words series which, far as I'm concerned, takes that concept WAY too far.



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