Interview conducted in summer 2011.
Swartz is an actor who has been writing and performing live shows for over 20 years. The shows often mix faith and Bible stories with humor. Swartz lives in Virginia with his wife Sue and has three grown sons. Swartz takes the time for a conversation about theater, faith, and life.
Q: How did you get into Christian comedy and theater:
A: It’s been a big piece of my life for a long time. I was always trying to figure out what was funny about something. When I was in seminary a light bulb went off in my head. I was writing comedy with my friend Lee for a long time and I was a youth pastor at the time as well. I used to have the youth group do a play once a year that we wrote together. That became a niche for me, to find the humor in biblical story. There’s a meaning that will come out of that. If you can make people laugh, you can find a connection with them that you can’t find anywhere else.
Q: How does the idea of reconciliation relate to theater:
A: [This is] what makes an actor a good actor: being present in the moment, listening and having empathy. This correlates with reconciliation. They follow each other.
Q: What do you most enjoy about being on the stage:
A: The glory and wonder of what it is to be on the stage when it really works. Being present means committing to the moment, realizing that that moment is the most important moment. I call it “exchanging molecules”...and it feels like flying. You can choose not to have reconciliation or you can choose to fly.
Q: What is a favorite skit in your repertoire:
A: I used to say, my favorite is “the one I’m doing now.” So, the one I’m doing now. An old favorite is “Green Eggs and Ham.” I perform about six to eight shows a month around the country.
Q: What is the importance of comedy in the church:
A: You find yourself open to lessons if you can laugh together. Laughter is the lubricant that keeps society moving. If you laugh together as a congregation it’s a great sign of health. Every congregation should laugh and cry together once a week. Laughter opens you up; you grieve differently and you celebrate differently. I have difficultly separating my art and laughter. They seem like the same body. It is the best thing in the world.