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Comedian, author and DePue native Tracy DeGraaf rehearses for her upcoming comedy show, It’s a Wonder-Full Life, Laugh Anyway, which will be held on Dec. 8 at DePue Congregational Church. DeGraaf describes her material as “evangelomedy;” a mix of evangelism and comedy. NewsTribune photos/Goldie Currie
If You Go...
What: “It’s a Wonder-Full Life, Laugh Anyway” comedy show featuring DePue native Tracy Moran-DeGraaf
When: Dec. 8
Where: DePue Congregational United Church of Christ, 116 W. Third St. Time: Doors open at 12:15 p.m. Show begins at 1 p.m.
Tickets: $5 (seating is limited. Advanced tickets are recommended.) Limited tickets may be available at the door.
DEPUE — In the past year, DePue Congregational United Church of Christ has formed a council called Community Mission. The main goal is to create events and projects that will help bring community members a little closer.
Sharon Kopina, a member of the council, explained that with the recent economic downturn, there seemed to be a widening gap between DePue’s multiple cultures and groups.
“We felt that offering events where we could all meet in fellowship was one way to bring us together. A two-fold goal was to identify areas our church could further help or assist in the transition from newcomer to vested residents,” she said. The council has spent the past year connecting with community members from different groups to help form alliances. This July, Community Mission hosted its first event, which was a street fair.
“It was gratifying to see the different ethnic groups mingling with each other on a beautiful, warm summer day on the street in front of our church,” Kopina said. “We had craft and flea market vendors, food vendors, games and music to entertain those attending.”
She said it doesn’t matter whether people join the church or not, the events are about getting people and groups mingling.
The council also has several community improvement projects for the near future. Those include planting a memorial garden between the church and garage and turning the church’s garage into a second-hand bookshop.
Comedy show next week benefits food pantry Community Mission will host its second event next weekend. It’s a Christian comedy show, featuring DePue native Tracy Moran-DeGraaf, author of “Laugh Anyway Mom.”
DeGraaf brings humor to the everyday trials and tribulations of life as a woman, wife and mother of five boys. Since junior high school, she aspired to be a writer. When she graduated college and got her degree, she thought she would then start her writing career. Shortly after, however, she married and soon after that had five boys.
“I couldn’t even put together two sentences, let alone write something that people could understand,” she said. “My career was really put on the back burner for 20 years, but it was always there. I always knew I wanted to be a writer. It’s what I really felt I was born to do.”
Years later, DeGraaf had an epiphany: “If you’ve always wanted to do something, what are you waiting for. Just start doing it.” She started blogging about her everyday “crazy” life of raising her boys.
“What I’ve found is that real life is a lot stranger than fiction,” she said. “I couldn’t make this stuff up.”
After reading her material, a publishing coach suggested she take her hilarious stories to the stage. She calls her material “evangelomedy;” a mix of evangelism and comedy.
“I never wanted to be a stand-up comedian. I’m not funny, I have a funny life,” she said. “I’m kind of what you would get if you mixed Phyllis Diller with Billy Graham.”
Before her death, Diller endorsed DeGraaf’s book saying, “A funny book that will make you laugh, cry and take life as it should be — with a grain of salt!” DeGraaf’s show is about the ups and downs of being a woman. It ends with a tug on the heartstrings as she shares her final moments spent with her mom, DePue native Joan Moran, before her death.
Proceeds from DeGraaf’s show will benefit Project Success of Eastern Bureau County’s Hall Township Food Pantry. Director Jan Martin plans to use the donation to purchase dairy products, so that they may be provided during the holiday.