On ABC’s “The View” comedian and actress Sherri Shepherd shares the spotlight with women who rarely agree, but performing her stand-up at her first Joyfest at Carowinds May 24 she’ll be surrounded by like-minded Christians.
She’ll serve up comic relief along with host Bone Hampton on a bill that includes gospel heavyweights Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann, Grammy-winner Lecrae and fellow Christian rapper Humble Tip, and television personality and pastor Dr. Larry Reid and the Breakthrough Singers.
“I’m excited,” Shepherd says of her inaugural Joyfest. She’s already a fan. Franklin and Mann both visited “The View” for her birthday. Joyfest also offers Shepherd a chance to play up her faith.
“You have so many people of faith coming to see these artists specifically, I can do more material about faith than I would do at a comedy club. When I say the phrase ‘going through the fire’ at a comedy club, the crowd’s thinking ‘Is that a Richard Pryor thing?’ ” she says with a chuckle.
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“I can use lingo without having to explain. When I talk about marriage and that I believe in submission and I just don’t want a man telling me what to do – people get that joke more than the secular crowd. Christians hear the word submission and don’t get as upset – go ahead and mop that floor, girl! I’ll be able to scream ‘I love Jesus’ without offending somebody in the audience.”
“In front of a bunch of believers, I get to highlight things that are quirky to me in the Christian world and talk about my relationship with God. This is stuff I do with my friends all the time. God has an amazing sense of humor. Half the time he’s just laughing at me.”
Shepherd, who starred on her own Lifetime series “Sherri” and recurred most recently on “How I Met Your Mother” and “30 Rock,” has never hidden her beliefs. Although she’s been chastised in the media for her stance on gay marriage, evolution, voting, religion and gender issues – all topics that came up on the show – she doesn’t consider herself a minority in largely liberal Hollywood.
“I’ve never made any bones about my faith and me being a Christian,” she says.
During Barbara Walters’ final week on “The View,” Shepherd kept mum about filing for divorce from second husband Lamar Sally, who is suing her for custody of the couple’s unborn child. The baby is due via surrogate in July.
One would never suspect personal drama based on her friendly demeanor on the show.
“If you ask me why do I smile so much or why am I glowing or why I’m so happy, then I’ll tell you about my faith,” she says. “But I’m not going to bash you over the head with my beliefs even on the show.”
Shepherd displayed a sunny disposition joking during her interview, discussing how she came to terms with diabetes (she released a book titled “Plan D” in late 2013) and how she is raising her 9-year-old son, Jeffrey.
“He’s got special needs. He’s very hyper and all over the place. One thing I say to parents is you’ve got to take care of yourself health-wise. When I’ve gone to bed at midnight because I wanted to stay up on Twitter, I’m more irritable with Jeffrey and not as patient. When I’ve got a full night’s rest, I am able to deal with him on his level,” she says.
It likely helps that Shepherd seems to laugh in the face of struggling as a mom and her diet and shares a camaraderie with her co-hosts, especially Jenny McCarthy, who has weathered her own share of criticism.
“I’ve known Jenny for 15 years. Jenny, Patricia Heaton and I did a sitcom pilot together that didn’t air. I worked with her on a pilot where I played her best friend. We’re both very silly, and we both have a child with special needs. We like to laugh and we don’t take life so seriously,” she says.
While “The View” was once heavily weighted with broadcast journalists, the show now features predominantly comedic actresses, which means knowing when to unleash a zinger and when to hold back.
“You’ve got to find the rhythm. It’s like double Dutch. You’ve got to get in just the right way or the rope stops. You have to know the other ladies’ rhythm. I know when Whoopi starts laughing or goes into character she’s about to go into a joke,” Shepherd explains. “You got to know when to pull back.”