- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - When Ms. Sue and Ms. Mamie take to the microphone, funny happens.

Their take on all things “churchy” comes with one condition: Thou shalt laugh.

The comedic pair believes Proverbs 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

When the stage lights at the Dane Theatre in Denmark came on last month, Ms. Sue and Ms. Mamie hoped to appeal to a larger audience with their live DVD recording of “Loose Me, And Let Me Laugh!”

The Southern widows have a way of helping God’s people see the humor in the Christian experience and life in general through stories of their past or through their original gospel-inspired songs like “What’s Behind the Sheet,” ”Lord, These Shoes Killing My Feet,” ”Lord, I’m Walking in the Light, Don’t Turn It Off” and “I Made Jesus My GPS.”

During a skit last year at a woman’s gathering in Calhoun County, they shared some insight.

“As a church mother, it’s my duty to look out for the younger women,” Ms. Mamie said. “They come in loud, you’re supposed to be hush in the house of the Lord. . Then they come in wearing every kind of skin; leopard, tiger, zebra, goat, rabbit and everything on the endangered species list they’re trying to wear.”

Ms. Sue has had six husbands and 12 children, but don’t call her a hypocrite when she says that according to I Timothy 3:11 her sister Lulabell is a blocker.

“She’s blocking her husband Willie from going past the trustee board, to the deacon board because of her demon spirit,” she said to laughter.

The women who lend their comedic abilities to make the Bible-toting, tongue-in-cheek routine of Ms. Sue and Ms. Mamie come alive are Jennifer Banks, a native of Blackville, and Del-Gratia Jones, a native of McColl.

When they are not entertaining and bringing joy, the wives and mothers can be found volunteering and working. Banks is a veteran accountant with Edisto Electric Cooperative and Jones is a science teacher at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School.

During the evening of laughter and their first headlining performance and recording, their husbands the Rev. Joe Banks and South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Judd Jones planned to share their musical talents. Background vocals were to be provided by one of Orangeburg and the state’s most recognizable female gospel recording groups, Appointed.

Comedians usually gather their material from real-life experiences, and Sue and Mamie are no different.

Banks said that “as long as we go to church, we will never run out of material.”

Since the pair began performing in 2005 during the live Christian stage play “He Still Gets the Glory,” written and directed by Banks, they have been spreading love and bringing laughter to God’s people.

Aimed at reaching a mature Christian audience to bring a fresh view to “things church folk take to seriously,” they add that some of the youngest churchgoers have come up to them saying they find their skits relatable and hilarious.

After hearing jokes about the Sunday School Union, a young man “ran us down and told us ‘they send me to the union every year!’” Jones said, laughing.

“I said, ‘Baby we’re going to pray for you so you don’t have to go.’”

Before their material ever reaches sold-out audiences, they get the first dose of laughter.

“We enjoy it,” Banks said. “During our rehearsals, we are on the floor laughing and crying.”

Jones said hilarious things happen within churches of all denominations.

She added, “For things that go on in the church that people take so seriously and get so bent out of shape about, we present comedy to them in a light that shows that God’s people are funny. And you just have to take it with a grain of salt and laugh it off, because it’s really not that serious.”


Information from: The Times & Democrat, https://www.timesanddemocrat.com

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