The first time Tim Hawkins got a laugh, he knew he had found his passion.
Now a self-described “under-the-radar celebrity,” Hawkins has spent the last 25 years or so “giving laughter” to crowds who need it. It’s similar to an addiction, filling a deeper need, a deeper longing, he said.
“There’s no real school for this. You kind of have to find groups of people and have them face towards you and do your best to get them to listen to what you have to say.”
Hawkins enjoyed entertaining most of his life but wavered about making it his career. His wife is the one who encouraged him to make the leap and go into full-time comedy.
“The good thing about it was that I wasn’t leaving a six-figure job,” Hawkins said.
“The joke is I was making six figures, but there was a decimal. It wasn’t a big jump financially.
“I didn’t have a plan,” he admitted. “I didn’t know what the future held. I simply wanted to pay our bills.
“You just go where your gut takes you and where you think you have some skill,” Hawkins concluded.
“I knew I had the ability. It was just the great unknown — going out there and finding your way. It was more desperation than anything that got me into comedy — I didn’t have many other options.
“Ignorance is bliss,” he acknowledged. “If I knew how bad I was at the beginning, I would’ve quit a long time ago, but I think that the passion to do it was so strong that even when I failed at it, I would want to keep doing it.”
Recognizing his growth as a performer, Hawkins said it was mostly in the details. Becoming a professional meant finding small things that add up to quality.
“They say that the devil’s in the details, but I think it’s more that God is detailed, like in creation. … I think of G.K. Chesterton who talks about the mundane and [asks] ‘Why does God make so many things?’” Hawkins explained.
‘An emotional cost’
“It’s because they’re great. It’s like … He made a great blade of grass.
“It’s almost like a little child. [It’s like God is saying] ‘Do it again! Do it again! Make another one!’
“We’ve seen a million sunsets. God says, ‘I know. Aren’t they awesome? Do it again; do it again!’”
Stories of those impacted by his comedy greatly affect Hawkins, especially fans who are going through a difficult time.
“It’s hard to process. There’s such an emotional cost to this, which is why it’s so important to not only get in touch with the Lord as much as you can on a daily basis to give you strength, but to also refresh you and fill you back up.”
Hawkins primarily performs in churches to Christian audiences.
“It’s a great place to do comedy,” he said.
Going to one of his performances means different things to different people, he said.
“The takeaway could be whatever you need it for,” Hawkins explained. “It could be just a release — you haven’t laughed for a while. It could be that you’re going through stuff and need a break.
“It’s fun to be together in a live setting. It’s entertaining, and it’s kind of cool to see a guy who’s learned how to make a living from being a complete moron.”
Sprinkled through all the jokes, however, is Hawkins’ serious side.
“Have you read the Bible? You don’t have to be crass, but let’s call it what it is and not make the Bible into something we’re comfortable with,” Hawkins said.
‘We don’t get it’
“I don’t think that’s who God is. He is Someone we don’t understand. And that’s the joke to me — that we try to fit an infinite God to our finite brain and make it work. It doesn’t. We don’t get it — and that’s the point. God … isn’t afraid of your questions,” Hawkins declared. “The human mindset is, ‘Boy, God better live up to my standards’ … like we’re the final say.
“The gospel is not a self-improvement program. God’s not a supplement to a better life. The gospel is: You need to die; you need to become less. The less there is of you, the better it’s gonna be. You need to know there’s something bigger than you.”
To learn more about him, visit TimHawkins.net.