Catholic stand-up comedian juggles faith and family

Catholic stand-up comedian juggles faith and family

Catholic stand-up comedian juggles faith and family

Jennifer Fulwiler. (Credit: Courtesy photo.)

Jennifer Fulwiler is the host of the "Jennifer Fulwiler Show" which airs daily on the national SiriusXM network.

[Editor’s Note: Jennifer Fulwiler is the host of the “Jennifer Fulwiler Show,” which airs daily on the national SiriusXM network. She is the author of Something Other than God, as well as her new book, One Beautiful Dream, a humorous memoir which was a #1 bestseller at Barnes and Noble and in the Top 25 of all books on Amazon. She lives with her husband and six young children in Austin, Texas. She spoke to Charles Camosy.]

So, you’re a stand-up comedian and host your own radio show on Sirius XM. You also are a former atheist, Catholic convert, raising six kids. That is…well…a unique combination.

It is. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m excited to get into standup comedy. There aren’t many people out there, especially women, sharing this perspective.

Can you say a bit more about your faith journey? What brought you from the belief that a god or gods don’t exist–to the life of a serious Catholic?

I was a lifelong atheist. I never considered that God might exist, even as a child. But after I became a mother, I began to sense that love has an origin external to the chemical reactions in our brain. All my life I’d thought that we should believe only in ideas that are provable by the scientific method. I began to see that we accept things as true all the time that cannot be proven in a laboratory, and maybe there could be spiritual realities that exist but can’t be discovered the way things in the material world are discovered.

After this ‘ah-hah’ moment, I finally set aside my biases and started seeking truth with an open mind. I read a ton of books. And, to borrow an analogy others have used, I ultimately found the Catholic Christian worldview to be like the box top of a jigsaw puzzle — it made all the pieces of life fit together in a way that made sense. The more research I did, the more compelling I found this belief system to be. My husband did as well. We both converted to Catholicism at the same time.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is the tension that exists for some people with professions pushing them to perform a “loud” public version of themselves who also desire the “quiet” reflective life necessary to connect with God. Do you sometimes feel that tension? Does your Catholic faith give you tools for navigating it?

That tension is always there — not just because of my public presence, but because I like to have a million things going on. I used to beat myself up for that. I thought that it was wrong that I always stay so busy, that I should be more like my friends with slower schedules. Ultimately, I realized that this is simply how I’m wired. I thrive at a fast tempo. But it does mean that I need to make sure I’m not surrounded by so much noise I can’t hear the voice of God. Being Catholic is so helpful for navigating that. It keeps me focused on what really matters.

Also, it’s tempting to feel like you *have to* keep doing everything you’re doing, even if you feel like you need a break, because the world will fall apart without your efforts. My faith reminds me that I can occasionally take a step back from everything and it will be fine because God is in charge.

I learned some funny and moving stories from your book about “chasing your dreams while also chasing multiple kids in diapers.” Any advice for parents pursuing their professional dreams and goals who also want to give everything they can to their children?

We need to reject the old paradigm that pits family and your personal pursuits against one another. Your family and your dreams are complementary. One gives energy to the other. When you pursue your personal passions in a spirit of camaraderie with your family, it brings energy and inspiration to the entire house.

In One Beautiful Dream I talk about how I came to see my family as an orchestra: we each have a unique instrument we play, and it’s really beautiful when we come together to play one song, rather than each person being a soloist. This means that each of us has to sacrifice sometimes, but ultimately it makes for a beautiful song.

Word on the street is that you have a new comedy tour coming up in the fall. Where can we find more information about it?

Yes! I’m so excited about it. I’ve been working hard — including getting up on stages at my local stand-up comedy clubs — to craft a set that has truly great material. I am also hoping that each of these events will be a chance for my fans to have a fun night out with their friends, as well as to connect with one another. I will announce dates and cities on Facebook (@Jen.Fulwiler) and Instagram (@JenniferFulwiler).


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