Mark, you see, is one of those rare commodities: a clean comic. Fact is, Mark Lowry has been delivering hilarious, G-rated comedy to sell-out crowds for years, on the road, in his popular recordings, and on his award-winning videos. His Mouth in Motion video was recently certified gold, another indication of his remarkable success.
But who is this guy?
Basically, Mark Lowry is a south Texas boy who grew up going to church and minding his mama and daddy (most of the time, anyway). "I got a whipping every day; sometimes two or three times a day. I thought it was normal; you brush your teeth, get a whipping, go to bed," says Mark.
Like many other successful comics, Mark was a "hyperactive" child who had what is now known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). "I had it before people knew what it was. All I knew was that there weren't enough trees to make enough paper for all the notes my teacher would have to send home with me." Even so, his childhood stories seem to have an impact beyond their humor. At his shows, parents often tell Mark how he has given them hope for their hyperactive child. "They should talk to my dad," says Mark, "I know he's just happy that I made it to adulthood without landing in jail... although, I think he's given up hope of me landing a real job."
Fortunately for his career, he has never quite outgrown his childhood hyperactivity. His non-stop, rubber-faced mugging punctuates his uproarious stories and pithy one-liners about growing up in the Bible Belt, his childhood career in musical theater, and the colorful characters that inhabit his world, the most colorful of whom is Mark himself.
His first stage experience (besides singing in church) was with the Houston Music Theater at the age of nine. "I wasn't any good at sports, so Mama had to do something with her hyperactive child. She took me down to the theater for an audition, and I got the part because I was the only kid who could sing on pitch." The show was The Music Man, choreographed by Broadway legend and native Houstonian, Tommy Tune, who was impressed by Mark's talent. Mark remembers, "He tried to talk my parents into letting me go to Broadway.
"That's when my mama started praying.
"...not that I'd get to go to Broadway -- heavens, no! We were Baptists! And since I wasn't allowed to dance, that kind of nipped my Broadway career in the bud."
That was not all. After the Houston theater went bankrupt (Mama's prayers finally kicked in), a man in Mark's church got him an audition with the National Quartet Convention, a huge gathering of Southern Gospel music fans. "I was eleven years old, and Mama dressed me up like a flag. I sang a patriotic medley in front of 10,000 people, got two standing ovations, and a recording contract."
That led to a road gig with a tour bus, backup singers, and a record called Introducing Mark Lowry. From there, it was church camps and gospel meetings until Mark started college at Liberty University. After graduation, he hit the road again with gospel songs and funny stories, leading eventually to the multi-faceted career he now enjoys.
Besides his solo performances before sell-out crowds and his appearances on national TV, Mark Lowry has also shared the stage with entertainers like his friends Amy Grant, Sandi Patty, and Michael W. Smith (all of whom Lowry makes good-natured fun in his parody videos). Amazingly, Mark's talent is not confined to the comedy arena. He is also a singer with several albums to his credit and a songwriter whose compositions include Mary Did You Know, which has been recorded by Kathy Mattea, Billy Dean, and a host of others, and is reputed to be one of President Clinton's favorite new Christmas songs.
But it is in comedy where Mark really shines. Since he was born in Houston in 1958, Mark has not quit seeing the humor in everything, much to the dismay of his schoolteachers and the delight of his audiences. Along with his stories of life as a bouncing-off-the-walls child, Mark turns his observational wit to the workaday routine of everyday life in the 90s. Due to his on-the-go life on the road, many of his observations have to do with travel:
"I always sit in the back of a plane -- I've never heard of a plane backing into a mountain."
"The little, black box with the flight recorder always makes it through a crash... why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?"
"You know: take that recorder out of the box, and let me stuff my tail in there and ride it down. They won't need a recorder; I'll tell em what the pilots said -- 'uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh.'"