Keeping it clean: Christian comedian, songwriter dishes on roots, family life

Keeping it clean: Christian comedian, songwriter dishes on roots, family life

CHAMPAIGN — Tim Hawkins had no choice but to be a singing comedian.

"It was pretty much desperation," said Hawkins, who performs Friday at the Virginia Theatre. "I used to say that as a joke, but I really did try a lot of other jobs. I had a drive to do comedy. Everything else as far as jobs, if I failed I wanted to quit right away."

He's a regular guy: "The best way to make a baked potato is to cover it in sea salt, wrap it in foil and then throw it away and order a pizza."

A Christian comedian, parodist and singer, Hawkins is sort of the Weird Al of Christian comedy.

Among the hits he's messed around with are "Jesus, Take The Wheel," Kansas' "Dust in the Wind," "The Candy Man," "Pretty Pink Tractor" and "Smells Like Birthday Cake."

"I like doing imitations, like Axl Rose," he said. "When I try to write a serious song, it sounds goofy."

So a dark Nirvana song becomes a contrast between birthday gifts.

The St. Louis native, who went to Purdue University, said his stand-up is family-friendly: marriage, homeschooling and parenting:

"Whoever wrote the song 'Easy Like Sunday Morning' didn't take his kids to church on a regular basis.

"Sometimes my wife gets mad at me for behaving wrong in her dreams.

"Plastic surgery is like auto-tuning your face. It's the right note, but it seems a little off.

"I know I'm getting old because the batteries keep running out in my nose-hair trimmers."

His podcast is called "Poddy Break."

"I think people talk about edgy comedy as being dirty — there are certain places I can't go," Hawkins said. "I do talk sex, drugs, politics, but in a family context."

After all, he wouldn't be here without his Christian-based audience.

"Pick your torture. About 99 percent of the population would be frightened to do stand-up," Hawkins said.

So find your comfort level.

"I started in little comedy clubs and churches," Hawkins said. "It's good to have a base audience."

The songs are integral to his comedic persona.

"I'm a frustrated rock singer and love comedy, too. I grew up listening to Weird Al Yankovic. I play just enough guitar to make it work," he said.

He said music is taking up more and more of his time on the stage.

"Probably half of my act is songs; I started teaching myself," he said.

It has to be a family business for him.

"When you travel a lot, the family gets the scraps," Hawkins said. "My son is my merchandise manager. It's more about me having to be supportive of them."

As for the Virginia audience, it's a sin what they pay for a ticket.

"They should all feel guilty — I give them too much comedy for their dollar," Hawkins said.