They're Californians now permanently planted in Scotland, they're seriously crazy, and they're called RODD & MARCO. Marco Palmer comes clean.
Cross Rhythms magazine recently asked us to answer several questions such as: What is it like to be a Christian comedy/drama/musical and whatever-else-you-want-to-call-them duo? Describe your average day, boys. How do your obviously warped minds work?...
Okay, here goes!
The Average Day Of Rodd & Marco: Wake up somewhere in the UK, 10 hours earlier than we would like. We are in strange beds, in somebody else's home. Our kind hosts usually make the young children sacrifice their bunk beds for Rodd and myself, and these children now sleep in the garage snuggled up to a dog to keep them warm. I know the Apostle Paul praised God within a prison cell, but could he have done so looking at Postman Pat wallpaper? Rodd and I need to convert to Christianity afresh every day at around 10 in the morning. Before that it will be hard to see Christ in us, you are more likely to see a blank Frankenstein-type stare, with the accompanying grunts and groans.
The average day will find us in some high school somewhere in the UK, taking assemblies, RE and drama classes. There is an enthusiastic response from students and teachers. Great theological mysteries are solved for many an RE student such as does God have a beard? Why is the Devil red? I jest but these are real questions we have been asked. The usual questions are: Who made God? Suffering and evil? Proof for God? Proof for the Bible? What about them dinosaurs?... In an RE class in Sheffield, with one minute to go, a young lad asked, 'Which came first, the chicken or the egg?' I said, The chicken!' Clock is ticking so no time for lengthy explanation. 'Okay,' the boy fired back. 'Who did Cain marry?' Few seconds left. 'The chicken!' I said. In America a whole religion would have been started on my answer but fortunately this class knew I was joking. School is over.
After six hours of being energetic, witty, humorous, friendly and fun we revert back to Frankenstein mode of grunting and staring.
Dinner is usually at the church that is hosting that evening's youth concert. Why is it always lasagne? A good number of kids from the school turn out that evening. We put on a lively, fun, loud concert and presentation of the Christian Gospel using musical sketches, humour and drama. Some of the kids respond to the message and want to follow Christ. Many others are one step, two steps, 19 steps closer to making a commitment of their lives to follow Christ. It is worth it all, isn't it? Put everything away and hop back into the strange bunk beds in somebody else's house, while looking at Postman Pat instead of our wives. In a scene reminiscent of my favourite cartoon Pinky And The Brain, Rodd asks; 'What are we going to do tomorrow Marco?' 'Same thing we do every day Rodd, try to take over the world!'
We will now take other questions of loyal Cross Rhythm magazine readers.
Billy Benton of Birdlip, Hampshire, writes: Hey, this is a
music magazine! What the heck are you two doing in here? You probably
can't even play an instrument!
Billy, you are right! We are not true musicians, but music is a big part of our presentations. Rodd and I are two Yanks who have been living in Scotland for seven years. We have been working together as a Christian comedy/musical/dramatic duo since 1980. We work with two musical geniuses who are responsible for all the music you will hear from us. Gary Houston is one of the best bass guitarists in Scotland and he amazes us on his second instrument, the guitar, as well. On our last album, 'The Acts Files', Gary played guitar in styles as diverse as Spanish, country, rock and blues. Ken Smith was the proprietor, recording engineer and session musician for his own recording studio in Edinburgh. Ken has since relocated in Durham, so Gary, Rodd and I must travel to record with the boy but we don't want to work with anyone else. With Ken and Gary we produced two albums, 'Jurassic Church' and 'The Acts Files', which were both given a Cross Rhythms 10 out of 10, with praise for both the music and humorous content. Rick Wakeman, Steve Chalke, Sammy Horner and Noel Richards also gave 'The Acts Files' their endorsement. Our next project with the musical input of Gary and Ken is a drama book, with a CD attached. It will be called Men In Christ and will contain our most user-friendly material so others can perform our musical sketches. Three of the backing tracks on the CD will be new.
Eunice Ramsbottom of Bogside, Fife, writes: To the Wise and
Learned Rodd & Marco. I know you are spiritual giants and I am but
a spiritual munchkin on the golden brick Gospel road. What pitfalls
can I avoid as a new Christian, just beginning my spiritual
Dear Eunice, the gushy spiritual jargon you would do well to lose. Secondly, would a real spiritual giant dress up in a cow costume and enter a field of real cows and almost lose his life? That is a pitfall all Christians everywhere should avoid. True story, folks. I pull out a deluxe, brown cow body suit with spots and even a brand X on my bottom next to the tail. Next, I put on a longhorned cow hood, strapped around my human face... Okay, I'm not going for realism, because I'm standing on two feet and my face is exposed. I look like a genetically engineered teletubby from the Island of Dr Moreau, but Eunice, it works... Especially for two year olds! 'Come take my picture,' I say as I climb over the fence into the field of real cows. The photographer is hesitant. Bad sign. 'Oh come on. It will be a great picture!' I say as I dodge another cow patty on my way out to pose with the beautiful bovine models. A herd of them are lying in the hay on the other side of the field. The photographer has not followed and I am now near the herd. Just then, one of the cows sees the brown cow on two legs. It jumps up, with a crazed, frightened look in its red eyes. I freeze. If the cow could talk it would be like Robert De Niro shouting, 'You lookin' at me? You lookin' at me?' It paws the ground and snorts. Eunice, I wish the following were not true but it is, and shows you I'm not a spiritual giant. In my distress I said the first words that came to mind. 'I'm not really a cow!' I shouted. All the rest of the cows now stood to their hooves. Just then I remembered that I was a Christian. An obscure lesson in spiritual warfare came to mind. It probably wasn't theologically correct, but when faced with the snorting nostrils I was looking into, you would try anything. 'I bind you!' I shouted. Why not? The Devil. A cow... Both have horns. I thought it might work. Evidently my theology was poor because the herd of cows started prancing toward me. I turned ever so slowly and began the long walk back to the fence. Fortunately the cows kindly did not trample me to death, though they did lick my tail all the way back to the fence. Eunice, your walk with Christ would be all the better for never experiencing this.
The Reverend Abdominal Cramps of Ticked Off At Everything
Ministries, Ballymena, Nthn Ireland, writes: I'm ticked off at you
heretics of humour. I picket outside concerts of people like you who
play so-called Christian music. Isn't it true you have a criminal
record and yet you dare call yourself a Christian?
Dear Reverend Cramps, you must mean that gorilla incident in Germany? Let me explain. Another believe it or not true story folks. A team from our church in Ventura, California, is working with a Baptist church in Bavaria, Germany. Rodd has wisely stayed home, but I am there to lead in Christian drama, speaking basic German I have learned by rote. It is a language that sounds like people are clearing their throats and are about to spit all the time, or at least that's how I speak their language... It is a day off during our effort to bless the German church with good ol' American know-how. This large church team all but disappear and go separate ways on this day off. However, myself and two other young California fellows are left alone with nothing to do, in a small village, in a country that seems to have had a sense of humour by-pass. 'Ah ha!' I say to the other two boys, 'Do we not have a gorilla suit in our bag of costumes? Should we not have some fun on our day off? Let us take the gorilla on a walk through the village, shall we?' So one suits up, and the other two become the gorilla keepers. Through the town we march the gorilla. Heads turn! Jaws drop! People stop and stare from shops and restaurants. They say things in German like, 'Who are those dunkophs?' We chuckle like Beavis and Butthead.
Then we arrive at the Autobahn, which is the motorway for the less linguistic among you. There is a grassy triangle where the village and Autobahn meet, and where people in cars could see our gorilla from four different vantage points. The two gorilla keepers hide in a ditch across the motorway to yell instructions to the gorilla. 'There is a car coming from your right! There is a car coming from your left!' The gorilla would be lying flat in the grass, but upon hearing news of a coming car, would jump up, beat its chest, roll over, toss grass in the air and hang on the Yield sign. We laugh like hyenas on morphine as we cause many an accident... Oh, no car wrecks! I mean in their pants, as they drive by. Then it is my turn to be the gorilla. I suit up. I lie in the grassy triangle. There's a car coming from your left!' I hear. I jump up yelling like Tarzan and beating my chest. The word 'Polizei' is marked on the car. It comes to a stop. Two Polizei officers leave their car and trot toward me, with grim faces like someone had just slapped their mothers. I rip my gorilla mask off. Unfortunately I'm not joking. In my best spitting, throat clearing German I announce, 'I'm not really a gorilla.' One officer says something that in English sounds like, 'Vos is dos?' Thankfully I don't say, 'Dos is a computer programme.' I do say, 'Ich come aus California.' Just our luck, and I must emphasise I'm not making this up. Three English-speaking people had robbed a shop 60 miles-away. No, a gorilla suit was not part of the MO, but we were suddenly prime suspects. Into the Polizei vehicles we go and travel 60 miles. The poor victim of the real criminals looks at us and shakes her head 'No!'
Reverend Cramps, we were not the culprits, we were cleared and let off with a 'Please don't dress up like a monkey any more.' While I wouldn't encourage anyone to do what we did, I would encourage you, Reverence Cramps, to have fun and laugh a little... Then you might not be ticked off with everyone.
Phil T Lucre of Tax Haven Bay, Guernsey, writes: How can we
get a hold of your stuff and how much will it set us back?
Good question, Phil. Kingsway was putting 'Jurassic Church' through the Christian bookshops and was going to put out 'Acts Files' but then they were bought by an American company that discouraged all this. Darn Yankees! In other words, you will have to buy direct from us. However, the new book Men In Christ might be in the shops. Watch this space. Write us for an order form and, Phil, we will get you all the info.
Jack Straw, Home Secretary, Westminster: Is it true Her
Majesty's Home Office actually let you people in our country and let
Like it or not, Britain. You are stuck with us!