Laughing with purpose
Laughing with purpose
Anne Reed
Anne Reed
AFA Journal staff writer

July 2020 – It was 1990. Shortly after graduating high school, Michael Jr. (above) and a friend sat in a crowded movie theater in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The movie had abruptly stopped. While the production crew hurriedly worked to restart the film, Michael Jr. thought he would have some fun. He headed toward the stage.

“The only joke I knew was a dirty joke,” Michael Jr. told AFA Journal. “I had like 12 seconds, from the time it took me to get from my chair to the front, to rewrite the joke in my head.”

The audience erupted in laughter and begged for more. But it was the only material he had.

“I realize, in retrospect, that was really God giving me a glimpse of what He called me to do,” said Michael Jr., now one of the nation’s most sought-after professional comedians.

Career in the making
At age 26, he was living out of his car in New York City when he was invited to perform alongside Jerry Seinfield. It was a momentous night, garnering him two standing ovations. But there was more. Later, after the show, the club owner invited him to church.

Reluctantly, he went. Before the service was over, he found himself fighting the urge to respond to the altar call. He decided, instead, to read the Bible. And he did – in 36 days, he read it from cover to cover. He soon attended another service and practically ran to the altar to give his life to Christ.

He achieved tremendous success in his career, but there was yet a major shift to take place. It was during a prayer before a comedy show that he realized he was called to “give” laughter as a gift to others.

“That was my big break!” Michael Jr. said. “That changed everything! Before that, I had always gone on stage to ‘get’ laughs.”

Character in the spotlight
Michael Jr. is happily married and father to five children. In addition to his career in comedy, he played a supportive role in the 2015 Kendrick Brothers film War Room.

“I told my kids when they were really young,” said Michael Jr., “that anything I ever say on stage, they can repeat it. Now, with film, it’s the same. I want the characters I play to line up with the character of God I’m trying to pursue.

“If I can actually be in a movie that can move people in a better direction, like I believe Selfie Dad can do, I’m all for it.”   

Selfie Dad: Michael Jr. on demand
In Selfie Dad, Michael Jr. plays former stand-up comic Ben Marcus who is discouraged in his job as a video editor for an impossible-to-please TV show host (played by Chonda Pierce).

Marcus impulsively creates a YouTube page to post stand-up comedy routines. His first video flops, but his young son Jack gets involved without Marcus’s knowledge, assigns him the “Selfie Dad” persona, and posts a failed home improvement project video. It goes viral, and the Marcus family begins to undergo an overhaul.

The Christian IT guy from work is consistently asking Marcus for help with his thesis and “inadvertently” pointing him to the Bible. Meanwhile, an older, wiser neighbor (played by War Room’s Karen Abercrombie) is leading Marcus’s wife into a habit of prayer.

Selfie Dad is well written, directed, and performed – balanced with thoughtful, laugh-out-loud humor, realistic tension, and a clear gospel message.

Marcus faces fears, temptations, and tests, and he becomes a man of integrity and humility.

Parents are cautioned about a brief flirtatious scene between Marcus and a female journalist who appears to be drinking champagne. Rated PG, Selfie Dad was set to release June 19, by premium video on demand. Find out more at