Jeff Allen: Jesus Laughs
By Robert Hull
The 700 Club
For over 25 years, Jeff Allen’s comedy has been entertaining audiences around the country; from Las Vegas to New York, cruise ships, to TV pilots. Making people laugh was his business. But off the stage his personal life was anything but funny.
“I didn’t like me. I didn’t like the way I treated my wife. I didn’t like the way I snapped at my kids, snapped at people on the road,” Jeff said. “The stage was my therapy; I couldn’t afford a therapist. I didn’t have any money. So, whatever was going on on the inside came out.”
Jeff Allen lived this way for years. He realized he had a problem controlling his anger, so he poured himself into eastern religion and self-help books, looking for the answers to his inner battles.
“So, I’d read this stuff and get it into my mind. I’d go ‘Oh this is great’, and it would dissipate,” Jeff said. “I described it as: here you have this thirst and then you’d grab water and you go, ‘all right,’ and then by the time you got it to your mouth, it just gave enough to quench it. And, then it would go away. That was my search. It was just an intellectual, trying to make sense, and get the pieces of the puzzle up here; and then I thought it would all work its way out.”
“For whatever reason, I hated Christians. I remember them handing me tracts in comedy clubs, and me crumble them up and throw them at them,” Jeff said.
Jeff used alcohol excessively, which also led to cocaine use.
“My drug of choice was alcohol. I used cocaine so I could drink more,” Jeff said. “Cocaine was everywhere in the ‘80s. I’ve had clubs try and pay me in cocaine. And you go, I don’t think the phone company is going to take this; I’ve got to have some cash so I can pay the phone bill. Otherwise, the phone is shut it off and then I can’t work.”
Jeff convinced himself that his marriage was his real problem.
“All my problems began with the marriage. I didn’t have this guilt and shame about my habits, my drinking; so, I figure out if I can get rid of the wife and kids, then I can just send them money,” Jeff said.
Late one night, in a drunken rage, Jeff went into his bedroom to pick a fight with his sleeping wife.
“I felt if I slapped her around she’d have to divorce me,” Jeff said.
Just before his assault began, the cries of his son distracted him.
“I go into the room to quiet Ryan, and he won’t quiet down crying. I end up spanking, spanking, spanking him. Tami wakes up and takes him; and takes him away and feeds him. The humiliation and the shame that washed over me,” Jeff said. “I told Tami, ‘I’ve got to go to Alcoholics Anonymous.’ And, I said, ‘if you don’t take me, I won’t go. If I don’t go, we won’t be married.’”
Jeff began a journey towards sobriety with Alcoholics Anonymous, but his search for meaning came up empty. Jeff’s friend gave him a Bible and signed him up to receive Bible study tapes through the mail. Jeff just stuffed them in a drawer. All the while, his marriage was disintegrating. Eventually, Tami left him, but she made one last request.
“She gathers up all these Bible tapes, year and a half - all these manila envelopes from Denton Bible Church, they keep coming. She says ‘you either listen to these things or I’m throwing them out’, and I said ‘OK, OK, just leave them on the floor.’ And, I open one up and its two tapes. It’s Ecclesiastes; I couldn’t even pronounce it. And went to the junk drawer, got the Bible out, put the tape in, and I believe that moment - that moment, it made sense. It made sense that first tape on meaningless of life. I realized how lost and broken I was,” Jeff said.
Jeff opened envelope after envelope, drinking in every tape; and finally, in the quiet of his empty house, he turned his life over to Jesus Christ.
“It took me a month to tell her, ‘I’m a born again Christian,’” Jeff said. “She goes, ‘what does that mean?’ And I go, ‘I don’t really know, I don’t know. I’m supposed to love you as Jesus loved the church. And, you’re going to have to dig in your head and tell me how that’s a bad thing for you and the kids. And that was it.”
Jeff and Tami started attending church and weekly Bible studies. He cleaned up his comedy act and now shares his testimony in his shows.
“We needed to resolve his alcoholism, his anger,” Tami said.
“I believe what I do now, since God rescued it, He rescued it,” Jeff said. “Twelve years ago, I was done. My prayer was, ‘if this is what you want me to do, then you have to use it. I can’t. [I have] no desire to stand on a stage and do what I do.’ And, it’s energized, I love what I do. I absolutely love what I do, and I’m proud of what I do. I really am.”
God has also restored his marriage.
“Everything we’ve been through, everything, there is no earthly reason why we’re still married. It is a divine intervention into two people’s lives,” Jeff said. “So, when I read about love and grace and forgiveness, I had a wife who showed me love, grace and forgiveness. It still boggles my mind and I thank God. I thank God for intervening in my life and showing me what love, grace and forgiveness looks like.”
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