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. That’s the purpose of the program and the original Sheep Laughs site. 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…
With a face like this, comedy was a natural direction.
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 amateur podcast and placing it in the arena of professional broadcasting.
Way back in 1983, Fred launched a 15-minute weekly comedy radio program called “Lift-off!” which aired on a local Christian station (WJLS-WBKW) where he lived in Beckley, WV. The program’s production values caught the attention of the station management (although listening back to tapes of it now, Fred says he “wouldn’t let a dog hear it”), and in 1984 he was hired part-time for his first radio job as evening announcer. Within a week he was working full-time as Production Director for both the AM and FM stations, writing and producing all the spots for both (although Fred contributes that more to the situation than any great talent on his part). During his six-year stint there, he also served as afternoon drive-time host and promotions director, 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 weekend youth programming.
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. 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.
During that time he produced a three-hour long weekly program called “HeartFlight,” which featured contemporary Christian music, and incorporated five-minute comedy segments every hour. The trail of radio comedy breadcrumbs continued to be laid.
While there, 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, from which a number of songs were released to gospel radio. Several of the songs showed up on the national Southern Gospel charts, (one rising into the Top 80 of the Singing News chart) and still get airplay today.
In February of 1996 he was offered a position with “The Sower” at the Guido Evangelistic Association in Metter, GA, editing all of Dr. Guido’s national radio programs, and is where he is currently employed, functioning as radio program producer, website 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 is 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.
In 2002 Fred established the Sheep Laughs Records independent label, which he initially created for the publication of the Prime Example comedy CD projects.
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. The site is currently getting over 400 visitors a day, and over 10,000 visitors a month. During the holiday season, the visitor count exceeds 17,000 hits a month. Many hundreds 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 program gives the listener a chance to actually hear the comedians listed on the Sheep Laughs site. The trail of crumbs has led him here, perfecting the program form he started over 25 years ago, proving it to be a long-term interest.
The program vocals are recorded digitally onto Mini-Disc, 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, client Gary Claxton’s comedy projects, “A Christmas Carol” old-time radio program CDs, and more on the way.
And that, as Paul Harvey says, is “the rest of the story.” But it’s not the end. What will the future reveal of Fred’s plans? Time will tell, but you can bet they will be fun and uplifting. And they will include you.
For a more personal bio (this one centered around the comedy production) go to the one on the Christian Skit Scripts site.
An article about the making of the program by Fred, from an online post about the show:
My name is Fred Passmore. Radio is my background and my job. But for the fun of it I produce a weekly program called 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 which now functions as the recording studio and office.
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.
I also 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.
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. I email the copy for Jeremiah’s lines to my friend and voice talent Jon Lawhon, which he records in his home studio and emails back in MP3 format. 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 every one is as important as the other, and care is taken to make them enjoyable for repeated listening.
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.
Well, that’s the story behind the program. Hope you listening to it and sharing it!
-Frederick Passmore, Sheep Laughs Records