Pulp Comics: Jeffery Ross

  • 08/03/1998

>> You know, if I could have

a private audience with God,

which I completely expect

to have at some point,

I don't think I would ask Him

the question that are typical.

For example, I don't think

I would ask him, "Why is there

evil and suffering in the

world?" for example,

because I don't really think God

has, you know, a whole lot to do

with that.

I think God would say,

"You know, I really--

that's really all you pretty

much doing that to yourselves.

I just kind of watch in horror

Myself."

But there are some things

that I would ask God,

and I'm often thinking of them,

especially when I'm cleaning

my house.

And I just wanted to share a few

of the questions that I think

I'd ask God.

One: "What is the most

hilarious, spontaneous comedy

of errors that happened

in the history of mankind?"

Two: "Who was the most miserable

couple who made each other's

lives the most living hell

for the longest period of time

since the dawn of creation?"

Three: "Who had the biggest,

creepiest, deadliest bug crawl

on them without them even

knowing it;

and then the bug almost stings

them, but then, for whatever

reason, doesn't sting them

and crawls off them, and only

You know about it?"

I was raised in a very Catholic

environment, and that meant

a lot of good things, and it

also meant that there was a lot

of terrorizing of children with

really horrible imagery.

And when I was about six or

seven--maybe I was eight--

we lived in this house,

and there was three bedrooms

upstairs.

And in the basement, there was

this pool room, this kind of

knotty-pine pool room that had

a bar in it.

And my mother let me know that

when I got to be old enough

and I felt safe, I could move

down to the basement room.

So, you know, when I was about

seven or eight, I decided that

I could.

And I had my first night down

there, and I was in a double

bed, which I had never slept in

a double bed before, so it was

all very exciting.

And all of a sudden, I started

hearing some breathing.

And now, of course, I realize

that it was probably just my own

breathing, but I thought that it

was the breathing of Satan.

And I think I'd been watching

The Wizard of Oz,

and so Satan to me was those,

you know, chimpanzees

with the wings and everything,

and I became convinced that

Satan was in the bedroom and in

the closet.

And I could hear the breathing,

and I didn't--I tried to sleep,

and then I kept hearing this--

[panting]

[low humming noise]

[screaming]

>> Mom! Mom! Mom!

>> Honey, are you all right?

>> I hear some breathing in the

room, and I think it's the

devil, and I think he's in the

closet.

>> Oh, honey, let me hold you.

The devil isn't in your

closet...

I don't think.

Maybe under the bed.

Well, you get to sleep,

young lady.

No more screaming.

[low humming noise]

>> [feebly] Mom.

[laughter and applause]

>> All right.

I think it was in third or

fourth grade, the nuns decided

at my school that instead of us

getting dressed up for

Halloween, it would be better if

we got dressed up for All Saints

Day as our favorite saint,

because they thought that

getting dressed up as ghouls

and goblins was somehow--

had pagan undertones.

And so they encouraged us to

look up our favorite saints.

And on that day, Sister Mary

Kevin couldn't be there,

but Mrs. Spinelli was the hall

monitor, and I remember her

reporting to Sister Mary Kevin

the next day and saying,

"Oh, we had the most wonderful

time.

The kids were just darling.

Little Tommy Barker got dressed

up as Saint Sebastian.

And he had all these arrows

sticking into his chest

and catsup running down his

shirt like it was blood.

It was so cute."

>> Hi; I'm Saint Sebastian.

I was a Roman martyr.

I'm the patron saint of archers.

>> "And little Molly Simpson,

she got dressed up as Saint Rose

of Lima.

And her mother had made for her

a chastity belt out of egg

cartons.

And she walked up and down the

halls, you know, pretending to

rub her face, lest she succumb

to the sin of vanity.

And we laughed and laughed

at her."

>> This is my chastity belt that

my mom helped me make,

and this is my crown of thorns.

And I don't remember why I'm

holding a 2x4.

>> "And then little Kevin Cronin

got dressed up as Saint Paul.

And his mother had made for him

a hair shirt that just fit him

like a glove."

>> Hi.

I'm Saint Paul, and this is my

hairy shirt.

Without me, no one would have

even heard of Jesus.

>> "And he went up and down the

hallway, flogging himself and

yelling out, 'I hate women!

I hate women!'

And we just thought it was

darling."

[cheers and applause]

>> male announce

and of course, I had to go to

Temple Square.

And you know, you can't go into

the temple unless you're

a practicing Mormon, but you can

go to the visitor's center.

And I went in, and the first

thing I noticed about the Mormon

depiction of Jesus compared

to the Catholic depiction

of Jesus is that--

like, in the Catholic depiction

of Jesus, it's always Jesus

kind of near death.

It's Jesus with--like this.

This is how you always see

Jesus, like, on the cross

and in the church.

And Catholics love, like,

in statues to have where you can

see where the thorns actually

go in.

And they--no, they don't mind

a little blood on the face,

you know, and real emaciated

bodies and ribs sticking out.

But the Mormons like a much

healthier--

They like Jesus of the

sermon-on-the-mount kind of era.

Their Jesus is like this.

And very, very blond and Nordic

Jesus, like a sort of a Brad

Pitt kind of Jesus that also

happens to be a Middle Eastern

Jew kind of person.

So you go in, and they have it--

It's almost built like the

Guggenheim.

It kind of goes up in this round

circle up to the top.

And when you get to the top,

there's this huge statue

of Jesus--like, 20 feet tall--

this big, huge statue of Jesus.

And he has a speaker that comes

out of the back of him,

and he says, "Hello; I'm Jesus."

[laughs]

And then you sit down, and he

has--like he'll say, "God's love

is like a mustard seed.

Love your neighbor.

Turn the other cheek."

It's sort of like

a greatest-hits-of-Jesus kind

of thing.

And people are getting their

pictures.

And then every five minutes,

it starts again:

"Hello; I'm Jesus."

[laughing]

Anyway...

Oh--then I went down, and they

have these little information

booths, and you can check out

a film called Our Celestial

Family.

And I said, "Okay, well, can you

tell me what that one's about?"

And she said, "Well, we in the

Church of Latter-day Saints

believe that after you die,

you are reunited with your

family where you live for all

eternity with them."

And I said, "What?"

And she said, "Yes."

And I said, "You know,

I'm really kind of counting

on death as being the end

of my relationship with my

family.

I can't really personally think

of anything more horrific than

spending my eternity with my

family."

I don't think that would be

a good selling point to get

people in.

I would try to get them in the

religion and then tell them

about the eternity with the

whole family after.

[cheers and applause]

just read the Bible.

And I love that the Bible begins

with two contradictory Creation

stories right off the bat.

[laughs]

Because I think, if there is any

message that the Bible gives you

in the first two pages,

it's that, you know,

there's a lot of different ways

to explain things.

For example...

But as I read through the Old

Testament, because I'm a writer,

I couldn't help but think,

if I were, say, an English

professor and God was one of my

students, and He came in with

His Bible and I had to critique

it for Him.

[laughter]

Now, the next submission I'd

like to look at is--

[thud]

God's.

We've all gotten a chance

to look at it.

So, God, You're calling this

tome The Good Book.

>> [laughs] It wasn't that good.

>> What's that, Jerry?

>> I, uh--I said, "It wasn't

that good."

>> I think calling it The Good

Book is a little presumptuous.

Let's leave that up to the

critics, shall we?

>> I had another idea.

>> Okay.

>> Lust in the Garden:

How It All Began.

>> Might we want to raise

the bar a little?

>> Well, I like Lust in the

Garden.

>> Well, hello.

>> Mary.

>> Mary.

>> Yeah.

>> Okay, let's move it along.

Let's get back to the

manuscript.

I have to tell You, God,

I loved the beginning.

I mean, it starts with "In the

beginning," for crying out loud.

First two characters are Adam

and Eve.

They're clear and precise,

and within the first three

pages, you know their dilemma:

"don't touch that tree."

>> I wanted to make it clear.

>> You should have made it

funny.

[laughs]

>> Jerry, please.

Now let's move on to the flood.

God, why, after You so carefully

outline humanity's lineage

in what I call the "begat

chapters," do You just go ahead

and drown them all in a big

worldwide flood?

>> Now, that was funny.

[laughing]

>> I like the Jesus character

in the second half.

He is so sweet.

>> Well, thank you.

I based Him on My Son.

>> Oh, you're married.

>> No, no.

I used a surrogate.

>> Ooh, God.

>> Would you two like to get

a room?

>> Professor.

>> Well, we're jumping ahead.

I'd like to talk about the

sacrifice of Isaac.

God, in Your book, You ask

Abraham to kill his son to show

allegiance to You.

This is outright cruel behavior,

sadistic, really.

>> I like a bad boy.

>> I got a better test.

Why not have him sit through

a Spice Girls concert?

Now, that's excruciating.

[laughing]

>> Shut up!

>> God, You really do have

a terrible temper.

>> Meow.

[hisses]

>> Oh, God, over all, it just

seems like there are so many

contradictions in Your book,

so many, many contradictions.

It's as if You write one thing,

and then a couple of pages

later, You write something

completely different.

I'm just saying, rethink what

Your message is.

I mean, if it were me, I would

try to get people to love me

based on kind and loving

behavior instead of through fear

and threats, which I have to

say is completely immature.

[thunder claps]

[electricity zaps]

>> Damn.

I said I wouldn't do that again.

>>

religious writer.

Her name is Karen Armstrong.

She's very, very popular.

I don't know if you've heard

of her, but she's kind of

like a John Grisham

of the intellectual religious

writer set.

And it took me about a year to

read this book, but I stuck with

it, and I read the whole book.

And at the end of it,

they had a picture of her

and a biography.

And I think I developed a voice

for her that was very Hayley

Mills like.

You know, like Hayley Mills

in The Trouble With Angels.

Like--

[in English accent]

"I've got the most scathingly

brilliant idea."

Like that kind of voice.

But it would be like--

[in English accent]

"Mother Superior, I can't

participate in these archaic

religious rituals.

They're a charade."

Like that.

And I just loved her.

And I knew her.

And I actually--

[laughs]

I'd never sent a fan letter

to anyone before, but she's the

only person that I started to

compose two different fan

letters to her.

And then I just wrote--

I was too--it was like,

"Dear Karen, I think you're

great.

You're really smart about

religion.

I totally get what you're

saying.

I am an actress in Hollywood.

Do you have an 8x10 that you

could sign for me or something?"

And I just couldn't do it.

All right.

Now, one day, I'm in Book Star,

and I go to the books on tape.

And living in L.A. and having

to drive so much, I have to have

a lot of books on tape.

I always have a book on tape in

my car.

And so I'm looking through the

books on tape, and there is

The History of God,

read by Karen Armstrong.

Ha-ha!

So I'm finally going to hear my

beloved's voice.

So I get this tape, and I run

out to my car, and I'm, like,

tearing off the cellophane

wrapper.

And I can't wait.

So I get into the car,

and I have to pull out the tape

that I have in there, which is

Think Yourself Thin.

You know, not everything is

of a high scholarly bent.

And...

Actually Think Yourself Thin

is pretty good.

It's all about how you imagine

your body the way you want it

to be, and then eventually,

it becomes that way, only 90

minutes of that.

And you know, sometimes when

authors read their own books

on the books on tape, they're

not the best elocutionists.

You know, sometimes they really

should hire other people to read

their works for them.

And this woman on the Think

Yourself Thin--

you could tell that the producer

was saying, "Have more energy in

your voice;

talk with more enthusiasm,"

because she'd be like--

[enthusiastically]

"When you think about your body

and you don't like what you

picture, that's wrong."

Like that.

Anyway, so I pull out Think

Yourself Thin, and I put in

Karen Armstrong.

And the first thing I hear is--

[in slurring British accent]

"Hello; this is Karen Armstrong,

and you're listening to

The History of God."

And I couldn't believe that she

had that voice.

It was that kind of really

highfalutin, weirdly academic,

tooty-snooty kind of voice that

just made all of the books

horrible immediately.

And I had to hear her saying--

[in slurring British accent]

"Mother Superior, I can't stand

it anymore."

[laughter]

And that's not how she sounds.

And then as I was getting home,

I think the last thing I heard

was--

[in slurring British accent]

"And then along came the prophet

Elijah, whose name means

'my God is Yahweh."

And I thought, "That's so funny

that Elijah's name means

'my God is Yahweh.'"

That so doesn't really give

a kid a chance to choose its own

religion.

[laughs]

You take a kid and say, "Okay,

your name is My God Is Yahweh.

My God Is Yahweh, clean up your

room.

[scolding] My God Is Yahweh.

For dinner we're having Betty

and Chris and Tom, My God Is

Yahweh, Claire."

And then I started thinking

about the name Yahweh.

You know, there's all kinds of

Jesuses around.

Why aren't there Yahwehs?

So I decided, if I ever had

a child, I'd name him Yahweh

Sweeney.

[laughter and applause]

I guess I make it too hard on

myself, thinking about all this

religious stuff so much

and trying to think about

the nature of God and the nature

of religion so much.

And sometimes I wish I could be

like my mother, because recently

she said to me, "You know how I

know there's a God?

I'll tell you.

Because when I go downtown

and there are no parking spaces

anywhere to be had anywhere,

I say, 'God, let there be

a parking space right in front

of Nordstrom's.'"

[jazzy music]

"And Julie, let me tell you,

every time, there is one.

And that's when I know there's

a God and He's on my side."

[cheers and applause]

Thank you.

That's it.

Thank you.

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