For the Love of Funny: Finding The Funny In Our Wins and Losses with R. Eric Thomas

We’re back with more of our For the Love of Funny series, and this week we’re asking the question; is it possible to find humor not only in our lighter moments, but also in our vulnerable and difficult times? Our guest this week specializes in wit through the written word–and he has found that it is possible to find joy, while being heartfelt and hilarious at the same time. We’re welcoming R. Eric Thomas, back to the show! Whether he’s writing about politics, pop culture, or celebrity craziness–Eric has a refreshing and hilarious perspective–which really helps when regular reporting on politics and news might send us spiraling into the darkness. Eric is also a television writer (Dickinson on AppleTV+, Better Things on FX), a playwright, and a bestselling author of several books, including Here For It: Or How To Save Your Soul in America and his newest work, a collection of hilarious essays called Congratulations The Best Is Over. Eric brings that laugh we need when the world seems bonkers, and helps remind us that we can find something to laugh at in almost every situation–we just have to be open to it. 


Yelled at By A Clown: How Nate Bargatze Found His Funny

We’re looking for laughs and we found them in all the right places, and we’re sharing the hilarity with a brand new series called For the Love Of Funny.  If you’ve hung out with us for any amount of time, you know that Jen is an avid devotee of all things funny. So we’ve rounded up some of her favorite funny people to not only bring us laughs, but to unpack the art and science of making people laugh. And for our very first episode, we couldn’t be more delighted to welcome “The Tennessee Kid” himself–Nate Bargatze! Nate’s known for his down-to-earth humor and deadpan comedy delivery, his highly viewed Netflix specials, and his favored status as a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: (10+ times!). Surprise guest interviewer Tyler Merritt joins Jen as they pull back the curtain on Nate’s comedy journey.  Often referred to as the “nicest man in standup,” Nate talks about growing up in a performance forward home (his dad was a Christian magician), the origins of some of his funniest jokes (Yelled at By a Clown, anyone?) and the side of fame that isn’t so pretty–like his sister’s incredulity that anyone would want to take a selfie with him. 


Future Star of Broadway: The Lion King’s Vince Ermita

When it comes to talking about the future and the bright stars we see ahead, that’s something we are always going to approve of here at For the Love. And we knew that in order to wrap-up our For the Love of Broadway series, we needed to talk to one of the up and coming stars of the stage. So as we get ready to close the curtains on this series, you’ll love hearing from the delightful Vince Ermita. Vince is just 11 years old and made his Broadway debut as Young Simba in The Lion King. I mean, can you imagine the thrill of reaching such a pinnacle role  at just 11 years old?. Vince gives us an inside look as he balances being a nearly teenager, school and a demanding theater job, the joys and pains of theater costumes, and what he hopes his future looks like.

The Lion King’s Brandon McCall on Fulfilling a Life-Long Dream

When it comes to living out life-long dreams, that’s always a goal we support here at For the Love. And do you know what we love just as much as seeing someone succeed? Broadway! We’re back with another week of the For the Love of Broadway series just as the whole country is celebrating the return of Broadway’s best. This week we take another peek behind the curtain to find out what it’s like to go through audition after audition, wondering if you’ll ever “make it there,” and then have it all end up with nabbing the role you’d always dreamed of as a child. That scenario happened to Brandon McCall, aka, Simba in The Lion King, and his story just makes our hearts full as to what is possible if we run toward a dream. Brandon takes Jen behind the scenes and shows us what it’s like to audition for Disney, what it looks like to be “show ready” for audition after audition, and finally the thrill of playing a role he’s  dreamed of since watching his first Broadway show as a kid. Brandon shows us that dreams really can come true–right under the neon lights of Broadway. 

Hamilton’s Christopher Jackson on Knowing Who You Are—On and Off Broadway

Pull your tickets out and silence your cell phones as we dive into another episode in our For the Love of Broadway series! As live theater comes back into all of our lives, we’re going straight to the heart and soul behind it. The actors, the writers, the composers—all work together to put these fantastic and magical shows out day in and day out, and we want to know what inspires them to do it. Maybe it’s always been their dream to hit the big stage, maybe it’s something they stumbled upon. Or perhaps, like our guest today, singing became a passion when he was charged with singing at the family business. As a young boy, Christopher Jackson began performing at services for his family’s funeral home business. And while that’s not the most jolly kick-off to his career, it gave him the confidence and courage to head to New York at 17 and star on Broadway by 22. Oh and also—no big deal—he’s been in some small productions like The Lion King, In The Heights and Hamilton. This week, Jen and Christopher talk about that dream that starts as a tiny seed and carries you to a destination you could have never imagined, those magical and life changing moments (like being a black man playing President George Washington performing in The White House for the first black president, Barack Obama) and what it means to widen your world to other mediums, all while trying to stay grounded outside of the roles being played to fully embrace your identity apart from the lights of Broadway.

The Double Name Witches, ft. Wicked’s Mary Kate Morrissey and Ginna Claire Mason

This week we are rolling back the curtains and kicking off a brand new series, For the Love of Broadway…so dim the lights and get ready for the absolute blast we are going to have here! To kick off this series we are welcoming two of Broadway’s best—Mary Kate Morrissey and Ginna Claire Mason, aka, Elphaba and Glinda. You know, the witches from Wicked? Yeah, those ones. Mary Kate and Ginna Claire, affectionately referred to as MK and GC, are going to take us through their journeys to the big stage and bright lights. We also get to learn all about the business, Double Name Witches, they started last year teaching the next generation of performers and how that work has enhanced their own abilities on stage and off. But more than that, we get to learn about the connection these real-life besties share and how that has saved them both many times. Jen, MK, and GC chat about the anxiety of live performance, why live theater is more important now than ever before, and how we can all get ready to experience our first show again after the Great Pause.

[Summer Best Of For the Love] Actually Believing God Loves You Changes Everything: Jeff Chu

Since journalist (and now podcaster!) Jeff Chu came on the show in spring of 2019, we haven’t forgotten his poignant storytelling or his answer to the powerful question he’s asked himself since he was a kid: “Does Jesus really love me?” Jeff grew up immersed in a family of theologians, where knowing and sticking to the Bible’s rules were prized currency. As Jeff approached high school, he realized he was gay. Over time, while he prayed for God to change who he was, Jeff threw himself into his work to escape his inner turmoil and realized he was a gifted storyteller who loved talking with people from all walks of life. A few years ago, Jeff found himself on the road, searching for the answer to his long-held question across America as he interviewed everyone from nice church ladies to members of the Westboro Baptist Church. And as he talked to more and more people about their spiritual beliefs, he concluded that, yes—even though Jeff doesn’t feel like it some days—Jesus really does love us all. And if we actually believed He did, we would speak differently, tweet differently, love differently—in a nutshell, believing we’re loved would transform our lives. And don’t forget to check out Jeff’s brand-new podcast called “Evolving Faith,” which he’s co-hosting with FTL fan favorite Sarah Bessey!

[Summer Best Of For the Love] Small Steps to a Happier Life: Gretchen Rubin

When lawyer-turned-writer Gretchen Rubin first came on the show in 2019, we were dazzled by the wisdom and tools she shared on how to live with more contentment, right where we are. A decade ago, Gretchen fancied herself a happy person. She had a job she liked, a husband and two daughters she loved, a life she enjoyed. But one day she found herself wondering, “Could I be happier?” So she set out to change her life—not in a blow-it-all-up-and-move-across-the-world kind of way, but with small steps over one year. Gretchen documented her experiment to live happier in the blockbuster New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project, and has inspired millions to improve their lives and find contentment. Jen and Gretchen talk about why it’s okay to pursue happiness in a world filled with hard things, and the little ways we can reach for a richer, more satisfying life. Gretchen shows how easy it is to work “happiness habits” into our lives (Jen adopted one immediately after this interview!) and how these small steps can yield big, long-term results. And don’t forget to check out Gretchen’s latest book Outer Order, Inner Calm.

[Summer Best Of For the Love] The Glory of God in Our Pain: Kaitlin Curtice & the Power of Lament

When our third Summer Best Of teacher speaks, people listen—and we couldn’t forget the powerful words she shared on For the Love in 2019. Raised a Southern Baptist, as she grew older Kaitlin Curtice began to explore her family’s rich history in the Potawatomi Citizen Band. Kaitlin tells us what life is like as an indigenous woman in the United States today, how she’s teaching her kids about their heritage and how we can rally around teachers of color during their hardest moments. Kaitlin reminds us we have a responsibility to incorporate a wide range of voices into our world and remember the power of empathizing with an experience different from our own. One of the most poignant lessons she gives us: God is is inviting us into the sacred, and it’s not in a far-off sunbeam or reserved for the church pew—the sacred is all around us, from the daffodils on the street corner to the popsicle-stained smile of our kid, even as we are consoled in our pain and grief. God’s glory is in everyone and everything. We only need eyes to see it. Be sure to check out her new book “Native.”

[Summer Best of For the Love] You Are Wholly Good: Osheta Moore and Embracing “Shalom”

Our second Summer Best Of guest is a teacher who taught us how to embrace peace with others, but also within ourselves. Osheta Moore is a writer, speaker, podcaster, and a faith groundbreaker. She’s also a powerful leader on racial reconciliation and equality, and through it all, she teaches that God wants each of us to be whole, vibrant, and flourishing. In her book and podcast called Shalom Sistas, Osheta breaks down 12 ways we can turn “shalom” into an action. She shows us how to become peacemakers in our everyday lives—not just with each other, but with ourselves and with God. Osheta shows us that peace is more than just a feeling. It’s the belief that God created us perfectly, just as we are, and the bodies that we live and practice shalom in, from the color of our skin to the shape of our hips, are wholly good.