On this page, you will learn a bit more about my history as it relates to the Sheep Laughs Comedy Show, and the stepping stones of my life that have led to producing the program. Note: I do these programs for the love of the Lord and Christian comedy. I’m not with a publicity or booking company, talent agency, or any organization that represents any of the artists. I just want to bring those that do clean Christian comedy together with those that enjoy it. If you enjoy a comedian, go to their site and let them know… and buy their products.
And now, a little about me, in the obligatory third-person… for the rest of this bio, please read it in your mind in Morgan Freeman’s voice. It will seem way more impressive.
With a face like this, comedy was a natural direction. And so was radio.
The host and producer of the program, Fred Passmore, has been involved in both Christian radio and Christian comedy for over 35 years. That combination of experience is brought to focus on the production of the Sheep Laughs Comedy Show, lifting it above the level of the amateur podcast and placing it in the arena of professional broadcasting.
Space: 1983… The Laughs Are Launched!
Way back in 1983, Fred launched a 15-minute weekly comedy radio program called “Lift-off!” which aired on a local Christian station (WBKW 99.5 FM) where he lived in Beckley, WV. The program was the first of its kind ever heard on radio, spotlighting Christian comedians mixed with his own original material. The program’s production values caught the attention of the station management, and in 1984 he was hired part-time for his first radio job as evening announcer (Southern drawl and all). Within a week he was thrust full-time into the position of Production Director for both the AM and FM stations, writing and producing all the commercials for both. During his six-year stint there, he also served as afternoon drive-time host and Promotions Director on the Gospel side, gaining experience that would make an impact on his future efforts. During this time the comedy program found continued life through various incarnations, filling a slot in the station’s weekend youth programming. (You can read the official account of Fred’s time there on this “History of WJLS” Page.)
A Big Move Up
In 1991, he was hired for a position at Coral Ridge Ministries in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, as editor and engineer of the national radio program “Truths That Transform” by Dr. D. James Kennedy (a program he used to play on the air at the station he worked at). He stayed there four years, also working at the church’s radio station (WAFG-FM), and even filling in as Interim Manager for a period. As program editor, not only did he edit and produce for radio the Sunday sermons by Dr. Kennedy, but he also worked on cleaning up and editing together interviews with hundreds of well-known Christian writers and speakers, such as Ravi Zacharias, Rick Warren, Ken Ham, John MacArthur, Philip Yancey, and many others. One aspect of his responsibilities was writing and producing the program promos that ran on stations advertising the upcoming programs that week. While there he also had the exciting honor of running the audio for a special live nation-wide broadcast featuring guest interviewee then-Vice President Dan Quayle.
During that time at WAFG, he produced a live three-hour-long weekly program called “HeartFlight,” which featured contemporary Christian music. “Lift-Off!” was revived and refined as three five-minute humor segments that played during the course of the show. “Lift-Off: Stage 1” played during the first hour, “Stage 2” in the second and “Stage 3” in the final hour, totaling 15 minutes of material. (Follow this link to read an archived newspaper article that mentions the show.) The trail of radio comedy breadcrumbs continued to be laid.
The Pals Team Up As “Prime Example!”
While working at Coral Ridge, he and long-time friend Jon Lawhon formed the Christian Comedy team “Prime Example,” and during the ten years of the team’s existence (1993 to 2003) they traveled on the weekends to over a dozen different states to perform in hundreds of concerts, and recorded two albums (which you can get here), from which a number of songs were released to gospel radio. Several of the songs showed up on the national Southern Gospel charts, (with one, “Attack Of The Monster Tongue,” rising into the Top 80 of the Singing News chart) and they still get airplay today. Together, they also created a sixty-second humor radio program titled “You Gotta Laugh!” which was heard on hundreds of Southern Gospel radio stations across the country (and which can be heard on the podcast as a semi-regular feature). Fred also supplied a humor column with the same name to a number of local and national Christian magazines. Click here to read a more complete history of the team!
From Playing A National Radio Program To Producing It… Again
In February of 1996 he was offered a position with “The Sower” at the Guido Evangelistic Association in Metter, Georgia (another program he had played on the air at the stations he had worked at). He was responsible for recording and editing all of Dr. Guido’s national “Seeds From the Sower” radio programs, and is where he is currently employed, functioning as radio program producer, website manager, social media manager, official photographer, DVD engineer and occasionally filming and producing special video projects.
In March of 2000, Fred opened the Sheep Laughs site, devoted to Christian humor, and helping people more easily find Christian comedians. It was one of the most long-lived and most-visited Christian humor sites on the web, featuring clean jokes, funny photos, a comedian list of links, and much more. The site has since developed into the Sheep Laughs Comedy Show site you are on now.
In 2002 Fred established the Sheep Laughs Records independent label, which he initially created for the publication of the Prime Example comedy CD projects. Learn more about that here.
In 2002 he also officially opened the site Christian Skit Scripts, to supply skits and soundtracks for churches and drama teams. The soundtracks are recorded in his home studio and released on the Sheep Laughs Records label. Since then he has written about 37 new scripts to add to the handful of ones adapted from the previous albums. Many thousands of churches have used his scripts, in every state of the union and many foreign countries.
Recently, the hunger to do a comedy radio program hit him again, and he satisfied it by cooking up the first 15-minute weekly Christian Comedy podcast, calling it the Sheep Laughs Comedy Show. The trail of crumbs leads here, with Fred perfecting the program format he started over 35 years ago, proving it to be a long-term interest.
The program is recorded and produced at Sheep Laughs Studios, Fred’s home-based office. The program vocals are recorded digitally using an industry-standard Electro-Voice RE 20 microphone in a soundproof isolation booth, then mixed with all the program elements using the Sonic Foundry SoundForge production suite. The professional sound is achieved with a large library of production music and sound effects.
Now, Sheep Laughs Records serves as the umbrella under which numerous projects are produced, including the Sheep Laughs Comedy Show. There are nearly 45 CDs in the catalog, including the Prime Example CDs, performance Skit Trax, “A Christmas Carol” old-time radio program CDs, and more on the way.
For a more personal bio (this one centered around the comedy production) go to the one on the Christian Skit Scripts site.
An interview transcript that was posted online about the making of the program:
Interviewer: Fred, you have quite a following of your podcast. Tell us a little about your background and how you came to create the program.
Fred: Radio is my background and my job. But for the fun of it, I produce the Sheep Laughs Comedy Show. I do it out of my home studio, which is a great blessing to have. A few years ago I would have had to go to a radio station or production studio to do it. But, the technology has progressed to such a point that it’s affordable and accessible to the average person (like me) to do at home. About five years ago (in 2012) I was able to move the production into a separate building that now functions as the recording studio and office.
Interviewer: Is the program best described as an online podcast or a radio program? I know it’s heard on both.
Fred: Well, one thing I try to do is make the program, from the very first one, something that could play in any medium and not only online. I see podcasting as a means to an end, not an end in itself. To me, it’s another avenue to use to get the program out, not the only one. Although the majority of listeners come from the various places it is listed and carried online, I have been blessed to have it picked up by a number of actual radio stations as well.
Interviewer: Is it easy to get comedians on your program? Or is it tough?
Fred: I try to feature talent that may not be heard on a wide scale, not just the big names. The biggest problem I face is getting new material to use on a regular basis. I’d like to bring a new artist to the program every time, but there aren’t that many out there. I still keep trying, though, and I network as many places online as I can in an effort to get them to send me their CDs.
Interviewer: Your program is by far the most complex when it comes to production, that I have ever heard. How long does it take to put a typical episode together?
Fred: It takes about 5 hours to produce a 15-minute program. I spend a couple of hours one night choosing the material and writing the script. If “Jeremiah the Janitor” makes an appearance, as he usually does, I email the copy for his lines to my friend and voice talent Jon Lawhon, which he records in his home studio and emails back. The second night I spend about 3 hours recording, editing, mixing and uploading. The work spent is an investment in the long-term usage and life of the program, since all the archived episodes are available on the site. And, whenever a station begins using the show, they start at the first and go through all of the archives. So each one is as important as the other, and care is taken to make them enjoyable for repeated listening.
Interviewer: Do you ever have trouble selecting material for the program, or do you pretty much play what is sent to you?
Fred: Because I have done it myself for many years, I have high standards when it comes to clean Christian comedy. I listen for material that I enjoy and find humorous and interesting. This means that not just anything gets played to fill the timeslot. I have to like and enjoy it myself before I present it to the listener. This means you are getting the best material that I can find. It might also mean that all you will ever hear from a comedian’s CD project is what I feel is good enough to be replayed on my program. In some cases, this is very little, and others a great deal. I know, it’s a personal judgment call, but somebody has to do it.
Interviewer: Fred, thanks for being with us today, we appreciate it. I have to say I am a subscriber to the program myself and can’t wait for each new episode. Any final word?
Fred: Thanks, and my greatest hope is that not only do my listeners enjoy the program and get a laugh and a blessing, but I hope everyone shares it with their friends.
-Frederick Passmore, Sheep Laughs Records