open mic day

October 13, 2008

Once a month at church we have “Open Mic” day. Well, we don’t call it open mic day, we call it “Testimony Meeting” but we really should call it “Open Mic” day. On these days, anybody can go to the pulpit and bear “testimony.” Usually you get people talking about how they prayed and found lost keys, lost rabbits, lost kids, lost money. Sometimes you get people talking about lost and found souls, although that’s not as common. You get a lot of affirmation and a lot of boring. And occasionally you get profound feeling and message, which is, I guess, the point.

But sometimes, sometimes you get CRAZY. I mean, what do you expect in a religious environment where you have people who believe in supernatural intervention in our everyday lives? You have to take the good with the bad, right? Part and parcel.

Most religious people are totally normal, everyday folks. I bet even most Scientologists (not the celebrity kind) are mostly normal folks. But religion, like politics, by its nature attracts people who are, well, EARNEST.

Like that crazy woman at the McCain rally who whispered that she had read about Obama, and discovered that he was an “Arab.”

See? Religion and politics.

So yesterday was open mic day at church. The mic is open for about 40 minutes, and most people are expected to take less than 5. Some go much shorter, and some go much longer. Politics are mostly a taboo topic, and people mostly respect that. But politics are only half of the “Religion and Politics” dynamic duo. You would expect people at open mic day at a church to discuss religion, right?

Yesterday, about 9:55am, with the mic scheduled to no longer be “open” at 10:10am, a woman sitting near the front stood up and started to make her way toward the podium. I was sitting sort of middle back with my family, and as soon as this woman stood up and started walking toward the stand, I leaned forward and whispered to Sam and Holly “CRAZY PERSON ALERT. PAY ATTENTION.” I didn’t shout it like those all caps indicate, but I did whisper earnestly.

Sometimes you just know. She was short, had wild white hair, deathly pale skin, and looked a bit like a character from a Harry Potter movie. And she wasn’t from our local congregation. It’s unusual for visitors to take up open mic time, and when they do, the potential for crazy goes WAY up.

She started out innocently enough, and anybody paying attention probably relaxed quickly, since she seemed like she would just travelogue us (yup, I used travelogue as a transitive verb) and move on.


After a few minutes of addle-brained ambling, she got focused. “We should love EVERYBODY.” (Of course, as I explained to my kids later, who can argue with that? That’s good advice for anybody.)

Turns out her family had a new addition to the family, and turns out, that baby was “African.” Meaning Black, I guess, though she didn’t say that. But she did say that having an “African” grandson caused her to face a multitude of prejudices she had always held (although, I can think of only one, really, in this case, that applies). BIGOT ALERT! You could see people around the room start to fidget, and the presiding authority on the stand start to tense up in a most uncomfortable way (since, if she got out of control crazy–a rare but possible scenario–it would be HIS job to stop her without causing a bigger scene than we were already experiencing).

But LO! Apparently she had been prepared for the coming of this “African” baby into her family because her life heretofore had been populated with OTHER types of people she hated. A Latino son in law. And a Gay son. And a Democrat. (Okay, I made that last one up. But nobody would have batted an eye if she had added that.)

And so she finished her 15 minute harangue by concluding neatly that we should love everybody, including the Africans, the Latinos, and especially the GAYS AND LESBIANS (a phrase repeated maybe 10 times). Because they’re ALL AROUND US, those GAYS AND LESBIANS. You might as well get used to it. And love them. I used to hate them, but now I love them. (Um, I’m paraphrasing here.)

And really, the takeaway was great–love everybody, even if you didn’t used to. That’s something I can get my arms around, so that I can tell the kids, “See, even crazy people are worth listening to, eventually. Maybe ESPECIALLY crazy people.”

I love open mic day.


36 Responses to “open mic day”

  1. Rick S. Says:

    There really should be a trap door or a guy with a stage hook in case things get out of control.

    “Open Mic Day” I like it.

  2. bikemike Says:

    man, what a way for some young comic to get a start without being heckled and stuff. he/she could start out with the usual priest/rabbi/minister routine and progress from there…people would be saying how cute they were and they could thank God for the ability to make people laugh. the little girls could do Sarah Palin impersonations doncha kno.

  3. KanyonKris Says:

    Dang, we haven’t had any crazies at open mic day in a long time. A few years ago we had a stranger take the pulpit and go off on a long tirade. When I was a teenager we had lots of crackpots go off on arcane health issues (aka taking the Word of Wisdom in non-orthodox directions, aka herbal remedies), conspiracies, hidden local gold mines, sightings of long-dead apostles, the “white indians” deep in the South American jungle, etc. Those were entertaining days. Looking back, I wonder how many years these incidents took off the life of the bishop?

    I like the trap door idea. Except teenagers would go up and say something obviously taboo just to get the trap door chute ride out of church and back to the XBox360. Regardless, I still like the trap door idea.

  4. Fish Says:

    I had a similar experience at an ‘open mic’ day in college. This squinty-eyed hill billy from Arkansas was up there telling us what a rough life she’d had and how her entire family nearly jumped ship in response to a declaration made in the late 70’s. She also continued about how she was still having a rough time with that one. It seemed I was the only one in the entire crowd that batted an eyelash at that one. Unfortunately, she never got around to the love everyone part.

  5. b_banks Says:

    “open mic day” I like that!

  6. Jonnie Says:

    Your ward sounds way more entertaining. I am defecting over. Especially if you get a better time schedule come January.

  7. rob Says:

    Maybe the baby was a white ‘South’ African baby and she just really used to hate english sounding accents – but is better about it now.

    (I’m a firm believer that we’re born with accents and it’s not society based.)

  8. GBrown Says:

    I’ve heard some mormon congregations are piloting gongs on open mic day. That’d keep the crazies on their toes. But think of the richness you’d miss.

  9. Eber Says:

    I was sitting by the cuckoo lady’s family – including the little “African” boy and the “Latino” son in law, but it was makng me crazy that I couldn’t figure out who the GAY son was! My gadar was going berzerko knowing I was so close to one of “them” but couldn’t pick him out of the crowd! No worries though dude – I could see right through all the Democrats skulking about. Those sneaky buggers – infiltrating our ranks! Oh wait…I mean I love them…everyone.

  10. mark Says:

    I’m just glad that my grandmothers are dead. Otherwise I’d be worried about being related to your open mic visitor.

  11. Olivia Says:

    Your description was hilarious. A spectacle like that would almost make the going to church part worth it. Almost. I think DeLaina was at the same meeting. Her blog about it was pretty funny too. Guess all the parents had to do some reluctant explaining after church.

  12. tonks Says:

    It killed me that the little African boy was RIGHT THERE! Maybe three years old? Old enough to recognize that he was the object of prior disdain and contempt!

    The Hobbit-lady (I even seriously checked for big hairy feet) was on the other side of our row, and the rest of the family was behind us. I hope I wasn’t too conspicuous in scoping them out for the “who’s who” in that fam! How embarrassing.

    How can I donate to the trap-door fund?

  13. Sam Says:

    The crazy alert was right on the money! The open mic session had me in tears and you can’t make that stuff up.

  14. Bob Says:

    About 20 years ago, when I was on my way out of the church, my roommates would see me in my sweat pants on their way to church and ask me why I wasn’t getting ready. “Today’s fast Sunday. My testimony is too fragile to deal with all that.”

  15. Mocougfan Says:

    This really would be a funny post if I wasnt’ serving as Bishop here in MO. Those people drive me CRAZY. I’m still nervous sitting here at my desk thinking about next month’s “open mic day” and it’s possibilities.

  16. Mocougfan Says:

    I forgot to add. I love the trap door idea. I would just smile and push the button. No more problems. Can I have something similar to that in other areas?

  17. KanyonKris Says:

    MoCoug, my sympathies. Bishop is a rough job. And I can’t imagine open mic day lightens your load since, from my experience, there are more crazies outside Utah.

    And be careful what you ask for. The temptation to use the trap door may be too great and the repercussions too dire. I have to think if you ever trap-doored your wife open mic day would be the least of your worries.

  18. dug Says:

    from botched experiment:

    The problem with church is the way they’re always pushing religion.

    When we lived in downtown SLC we lived in the 1st ward. Yep, THE FIRST WARD! Anyhoo that doesn’t really matter for my story.

    My story is that the Salt Lake City Stake 1st ward was populated with crazy people. At first it was funny, and my wife and I still quote a few catch-phrases that came of those 1.5 hour testimony meetings (yep, the Bishop was crazy too). Then it became irritating. Then I stopped going to testimony meeting. Then I stopped going to Elder’s Quorum because it was populated with crazies. Then I stopped going to Sunday School.

    Eventually I became so worn out by all the crazies, I pretty much had to stop going altogether. There were so many wacko’s in the ward that it seemed like every Sunday one of the three talks in sacrament meeting wound up being a ‘crazy testimony’.

    What’s worse is EVERY FREAKING SUNDAY church got out WAY late. Why did church get out late? Because Sunday School went way over, Priesthood/Relief Society went way over, and Sacrament Meeting went way over. Why did all the meetings go way over? Because the leadership and patrons were mostly populated by people of varying degrees of craziness.

    Anyway, among the things we heard testified of were the ‘miracle of the tornado-destroyed gay bar’; the evils of, “The“; the warnings and guidance provided by the burning or tingling of sacred underwear; and the “truthfulness” of using a branched stick to divine water, oil, gold, or anything else of value (which I assume includes lost car keys, rabbits, and children).

  19. Mocougfan Says:

    KK—Trap dooring my wife… A very bad idea indeed. Fortunately she’s not crazy. In fact she keeps me sane.

    Botched– Move back to MO.

    Dug– Next time instead of warning the kids, why don’t you stick your foot out into the isle and save the Bishop a little grief. I did that once when I was a kid. Of course, I got into a little trouble for it. Pretty sure I still have a mark for that from mom.

  20. steve Says:

    That’s funny! I can’t believe the people she was talking about were right there!!

    Botched-I second the idea of MO, I was there 5-6 years and there are way less crazy’s now, they all moved to Arkansas.

    With all the liberal, commie, pinko democrats. Nobody in MY family would be crazy enough to go democrat. Wait, I think we do have some of those other “sub-cultures” also. I love you man!

  21. michele Says:

    I have heard my share of crazies on “open mic day”. They live here in the Midwest too.

    The ones that stand out it my mind are:
    Admission of electro-shock therapy. (Maybe it’s just me, but if I had been the recipient of that treatment I would keep it to as few as possible.)
    It was a day when the entire Bishopric happened to be gone. A man (who was not even a member of our church) stood up and said that a woman that he was friends with (who was a member of the local congregation) was in jail due to a child custody dispute. He asked everyone to pitch-in so he could post bail for her.

  22. Firm and Undaunted Says:


    You Silly Crazy Person you.

    Of course it stands for Flyin’ Ute.

    I would like to be there when you take the floor for “open Mic” and hear some of your stories and travelogues.

    Truly. I’m sure it would be entertaining.

    Botched, we will all be hiking/marching back to MO to help out on this temple soon anyway. Sit tight.

  23. Geoff (John West's friend) Says:

    My three all-time favorites (both were pre- me serving in the bishopric, so I can laugh about them)…

    – Large African-American woman takes the stand, begins talking about how great it is to be a newlywed…then asks the congregation to pray for her because, “My husband is too big for me.” Then she pantomimes just what kind of “big” she’s talking about. “You know? Too big.” I nearly crapped my pants.

    – Man gets up and says, “I have to confess something to my ward family…I’VE BEEN HAVING AN AFFAIR…with…” <> “Sister So-and-so.” Pauses. “In my MIND and in my HEART.”

    – Recent convert (who always wore Oakley sunglasses in church) gets up and gives a standard testimony. Nearing the end, he says, “And if the things I have said aren’t true, may God strike me down in the next 10 seconds.” Then proceeds to count down to the moment of truth.

    All three of these testimonies had to be interrupted by the presiding authority…

  24. KanyonKris Says:

    Geoff, those are golden!

    You can have an affair in your mind or heart? Weren’t we just talking about Charlie’s Angles? (the misspelling is for dug) If I lusted after any of the Angels may I be smitten – 10, 9, 8 {bzaaap}.

  25. BotchedExperiment Says:

    Geoff’s comment reminded me of another one. This one is from Monroe, Louisianna.

    Sister Gowens bore testimoney of the inspiration of our local leaders in calling brother Theus to be Second Councilor in the Stake Mission Presidency, and then she raised her hand and shouted, “Halleleujia,

  26. BotchedExperiment Says:


    I was 19 and new to the church and brother Theus was a good friend. I thought this was just about the funniest thing I ever heard, and in my head, the Jefferson’s theme started playing:

    Fish don’t fry in the kitchen;
    Beans don’t burn on the grill.
    Took a whole lotta tryin’
    Just to get up that hill.
    Now we’re up in teh big leagues
    Gettin’ our turn at bat.
    As long as we live, it’s you and me baby
    There ain’t nothin wrong with that.

    Well we’re movin on up,
    To the east side.
    To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
    Movin on up
    To the east side.
    We finally got a piece of the pie.

  27. Mocougfan Says:

    You guys are killing me. I’m gonna be thinking about these comments in 3 weeks when I’m on the stand for the next open mic day. I’m gonna look like an epileptic on the stand going thru phases of panic attack, laugh attack, panic attack….

    “She shouted, “HALLALEUJA, THE BLACKS ARE MOVIN’ UP!””…. I wouldn’t have been able to get to the mic. I would have been laughing to hard.

  28. rediamond Says:

    Oh my word. I’ve never endured such craziness, thank goodness. I’ve had to correct some false doctrine (scarlet to white doesn’t REALLY mean white), I’ve never had to deal with such crazies.

    Ok, I take that back. On my mission in my first city we had a guy who was about as freaky/crazy/psycho and gay as you can get. He’d always come on open mic day and tell us how gays will be accepted into the church someday and it won’t be a sin.

    Promptly afterward he’d seek out us elders and give us his cold, dead-fish handshake and then ask if he could come over to our apartment that evening. Yuck.

  29. Eber Says:

    My cheeks hurt and there are tears streming down my face. Way better to read comments in Dug’s blog than the news headlines.


    PS – I escaped the SL 1st ward as well…all I can say is…wow

  30. jruss Says:

    fast and tellyerstory meeting

  31. tonks Says:

    We had some crazies in OH when Paul was Bishop. I’ll try to think of some things…the funniest was when a lady wore a reindeer antler headband with jingle bells on it to Sacrament Meeting on Christmas Day. She sat right on the front row in front of Paul. Of course, kind wife that I am, and because I was directly behind the sticking up antlers, I kept catching his eye and mocking the headgear. I then watched delightedly as he turned 17 shades of red to try to keep from laughing.

    I’ll bet he wished he had a trap door for ME that day!

  32. Bro Ken Says:

    I am new to this blog, but just can’t help throwing in my crazy “open mic day” experience. It was on my mission and I was serving in a branch in a small farming community in Eastern Oregon. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I had an investigator there with me at church for the first time.
    Anyway, an old lady got up and gave, what started as, a very spiritual testimony. Then the bomb dropped. Through her weaping tears she said, “And I know my children were born into the convenant because my husband and I procreated through our garments.”
    The rest of the story….the investigator never came back.
    Mocougfan, I am also from Missouri (and I think I actually know who you are..ITGBB?????) We used to get VERY interesting testimonies there. We had one guy that was a former Souther Baptist minister that would end every prayer or testimony with “Lord, Hold us, Mold us, and Love us….Hallelujah, Amen”

  33. Mocougfan Says:

    Bro Ken…. Where are you now? What city in Eastern Oregon. I served in Pendleton in 89. ITGBB is me.

  34. Kateastrophe Says:

    I’m crying I’m laughing so hard here. Geoff, you’re killing me. My story that included the words “vaginal discharge” doesn’t quite compare to THOSE.

    Though the little boy who said he was grateful he knew to put away that book with pictures of naked ladies in it WAS pretty good . . .

    I’ve always called testimony meeting “the Mormon version of open mic night” and now I feel justified in continuing to do so.

  35. Tobi Says:

    I just found your blog but I must to comment! I live in Texas and there is an older couple that are missionaries in my ward. The husband got up on open mic day and told everyone that growing up his Dad invited a stranger to live in their house. A stranger that never stopped talking. A stranger that enticed him to smoke and drink. A stranger that his Mom hated. But the stranger was never asked to leave. And that stranger was THE TV!!!!!!

    Then he went on about the evils of television. For ten minutes he went on and on about how the the TV was basically Satan. Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

  36. Bro Ken Says:

    mocougfan, I served in a few places in eastern Oregon. It was actually the Boise Mission. The branch from my story was in Enterprise, OR. Very northeastern, OR. Beautiful place, but the people there were a little crazy. I am now In Utah. I am ITGBiL

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