During college I was a member of the Flying Couch Potatoes, jugglers extraordinaire and comedy novices. I remember those performances fondly. We were more enthusiastic than skilled, but enthusiasm will carry you far. Who doesn't love a competition among friends juggling five eggs, in which the winner celebrates by smashing the eggs on his head?

I learned a great deal about comedy during that time. Remarkably, I also became a more sophisticated reader of scripture, as scripture often turns to vaudeville to render a scene—more often than you might think.

Of course Lent doesn't seem like a time for comedy, while Easter does—the essence of comedy, after all, is surprise, and surprise is the essence of Easter. Lent is like the straight man, plodding along, mechanically moving toward catastrophe. If you were to build a comedy routine from Paul's assertion that "God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom," you couldn't do much better than Nicodemus, a member of a community that comedians make fun of with impunity. Nicodemus is an egghead with no common sense. At least that's how John plays it.