For comedian Chonda Pierce, comedy isn't just her day job; it's also a way for her to share her faith and overcome depression.
Pierce chronicled her bouts with depression after losing her mother, dealing with her husband’s alcoholism battle and death, an estranged daughter and the loss of her sisters as a child. But instead of losing hope, the comedian turned to stand up and comedy as a way to work through the hard times.
She spoke to FOX411 about her journey to faith and why comedians should stop relying on vulgarity to make people laugh.
FOX411: You speak openly about your depression. What made you decide to do this?
Chonda Pierce: You just take the next day and the next day and if you're really blessed, somebody goes thank you for taking the next step. It's very interesting. I can't say that there was a coherent point that I thought 'I need to tell this.' It's just, I think I'm a middle child. I was already set up to be a comic, then I got depressed. Not now, I'm highly medicated, people chuckle at that. It resonated with people and the more opportunity that you have to share you should. What is hidden deep in the dark, as you drag things into the light, it diminishes the power it has over you and then it becomes an empowering thing that helps others. It almost gives you this power to fight it even more. People are hurting and they need that inspiration.
FOX411: What has the response been like?
Pierce: That's the amazing thing about social media. I read the posts on my Facebook page and it would make anybody cry. But I also feel grateful that what I do for a living, even just sharing a laugh for people, you get to see how much it pulled them out of dark.
FOX411: You have gone through a lot of tragedy in life. How do you keep your faith through that?
Pierce: I believe in the Bible and what it says. The world we live in today, it was not supposed to be this way. It was supposed to be a utopia that we were supposed to live in and God gave us a choice to love him or not, and I would imagine -- I'm not God -- but the thought process was 'I'm going to create all of this but I want to know that they really love me' and so he gave us free will and in that free will we make the choice to believe or not. But in the choosing, is when discontent comes along and we had to leave the utopia and Eden was no more and then suddenly we have to fend for ourselves and deal with pain, cancer, bad weather all those things that entered the world because of our choosing. So you can't turn around and blame the creator for something that we started. I believe the sweetest stories in all of the Garden of Eden story was just before God banished Adam and Eve, God made them clothes. That teaches me that he doesn't leave us empty handed. That keeps me going and lets me know that he's not out to get me, he's not trying to pick on me. But I also have to trust that he knows best and if our goal is to make it to that utopia, to make it to heaven, then I have my most of my family there already. I’m waiting my turn. That’s not to say I certainly had my conversations with him that's how I know he must be loving because he should have struck me with lightening a long time ago.
FOX411: How do you feel about the state of comedy today. Are comedians, like Amy Schumer for example, too vulgar?
Pierce: I think they're funny and clever and I love that. If I make a comment on a comic who does not perhaps live their Christianity like I do, then I just sound judgmental and snotty. But I will say they're walking in all the light they know. We're in a culture that accepts that stuff and that to me is the sadder part of the story then someone who degrades women in a way that's just not clever anymore. And to tell you the truth, if you typed out a couple of these routines and you took a sharpie and darkened all the dirty words and content you're left with nothing. It takes some effort and work to come up with a universal story that makes 2,000 people a night laugh and not have to go through the shock value and degrading people or talking about my bedroom. I commend anyone out there that does it and does it well. Seinfeld was a relatively clean and great stand up but the sad thing is those who are dishing it out in a really filthy way . If you don't like them, stop buying a ticket. Let your voice and your choice be known. There are so many that I think are so funny but I wouldn't take my kids to see them and I wouldn't want to sit and listen to them for an hour. I just want to throw my arms around them and go, “Who beat you up that it spills out into an art that was meant to be so healing?”
FOX411: What can people expect from your comedy series on the Dove Channel, "Chonda Pierce Presents: Stand-Up For Families" and your standup show?
Pierce: The Dove Channel took a chance on allowing me to find some comics that cross those lines of just of being funny for an audience who is looking for something alternative and something clean and it makes just such a well-rounded night. It’s really hard these days to find something for everybody on that couch from the 12 to 25 year old and yet this night, every night of these shows, there is a comic every 15 to 20 minutes so there is something a flavor for everybody on that couch. ABC, NBC, the big networks, they still don't know what to do with me. Along come a few folks who said, “Hey you’ve got a great following you can amass some great comics that are family friendly.” So we put it all together and I’m so grateful that they did. I miss “The Carol Burnett Show,” and I'm hoping it becomes something like that.
Faith & Fame is a regular column exploring how a strong belief system helps some performers navigate the pitfalls of the entertainment industry.
Follow Sasha Bogursky on Twitter @SashaFB.