Andy Konigsmark is a bartender, comedian, athlete, father, brother, best friend, ordained minister, and proud husband to Dodi Darrow. His two precocious children, Emmi Claire and Crew, are one life's greatest joys. For close to twenty years, he has performed standup comedy at clubs and venues across the country. As an athlete, he has competed on American Gladiators, Ninja Warrior, and most recently won $10,000 on the CBS' show Million Dollar Mile. Despite his 16 minutes of fame, he is not household name outside of Telluride, Colorado. Aside from entertaining millions of people, he preaches at Christ Presbyterian and serves food and drinks at the local watering hole. On his best days, he delivers reiveting sermons and pontificates on the menu intricacies at the local restaurant. Besides his restaurant accolades, he has earned a Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Fuller Seminary. His degrees are quite an accomplishment, considering his teachers said he would be lucky to graduate high school. Away from work, he can found laughing with his family, building zip lines, and shreding every stash of powder the mountain has to offer.
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Struggling to become post-Evangelical.
A bi-polar, dyslexic, stand-up comedian supports his family as a Presbyterian Minister. He continues to laugh as he loses on American Gladiators, Ninja Warrior, and struggles to understand God.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/MrxJw 3566 views
|Biography & Memoir Religion|
|6 publishers interested|
- We will learn to only embrace positive labels about ourselves.
- We will challenge psychological diagnosis’ which are used to hold us back.
- We address ways to break free from life’s challenges.
At age of six, Andy Konigsmark was diagnosed with severe learning disabilities. The public-school system told Andy parents their youngest child should be placed in special education classes for the remainder of his academic career. After struggling through elementary and middle school, his high school guidance counselor believed college was a pipe dream. Instead, she insisted the military was the best career choice.
To compound matters, this mischievous fourteen-year-old began suffering long bouts of clinical depression. His darks days were often coupled with full blown manic episodes. More than once, his life felt completely out of control. As his depression deepened, Andy regularly struggled with suicidal thoughts. Yet, he openly tackled his psychological disorders and guaranteed his supporters that he would conquer his inner demons.
Leaning on his tight-knit family and their conservative Christian values, Andy was determined to prove his guidance counselor wrong. Through many twists and turns, he was able to graduate college in five years. It was during these college years, that he turned to stand-up comedy to begin addressing some of the greatest pain and fears in his life. He bravely walked onto stage willing to poke fun of his learning disabilities, evangelical upbringing, and his psychological challenges. One night, he shocked his audience by claiming a bi-polar disorder is the equivalent of staying up all night drinking Red Bull, snorting pixie sticks, and then running outside in the freezing cold to speed away in your grandmother's motorized wheelchair. He was all jacked up and headed nowhere fast. Despite his willingness to address his clinical depression; he remembers many days when he physically could not get out of bed. He found himself slowly dying; to survive something had to change. He needed an extra boost to bring meaning to his life. This extra boost became intense passion for exercise. In his early 20's he fell in love with snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, triathlons, and hitting the gym to stay fit.
Through all of his trials and tribulations, his deep faith in God remained a constant. In 2005, he enrolled in Fuller Seminary to pursue his Master of Divinity. He felt called to ministry, but had no idea how his life would change after moving to California. Balancing work and school, Andy still carved out time to perform standup three nights a week. He foolishly believed he was one comedy show away from his big break. In 2008, on his way to audition for Last Comic Standing, Andy found himself competing to be on NBC’s American Gladiators. He successfully parlayed his chance audition into two episodes of American Gladiator fame. He later exercised his American Gladiator fame into minor Ninja Warrior fame. Presently, he continues to build upon his seventeen minutes of television fame.
After American Gladiator fame ended, Andy move to Telluride, Colorado where he continues to make ends meet as a part-time minister, part-time bartender, part-time comedian, part-time professional athlete, and full-time father. Yes, he always part-time busy, but full-time fulfilled with new and exciting adventures.
1. No More Strip Clubs: Transition from being a poker dealer to an ordained minister. Most of us stumble through life, but not all of us seek to hold onto God as an anchor in our storms.
2. Bombing on Stage: Stand-up comedy is an exercise in total vulnerability. Comics walk onto stage armed with only a microphone and their stories. Every performance can be a roller coaster ride of excitement and defeat.
3. Andy’s Island. Do not let the school system decide your fate. You can overcome life’s most difficult labels.
4. Seminary: Fully educated, but completely unprepared to serve as a minister. Please stop teaching us how to read the Bible. Instead, teach us how to be present in times of despair.
5. American Gladiators: Imagine wearing spandex on national television and becoming famous for five minutes.
6. Hollywood: Struggling as a comedian in the City of Angels. The truth behind the microphone.
7. Better Count Your Blessings: As a minister, you are often completely dependent on the generosity of others. Living by faith, can be a blessing and curse.
8. Experience Changes Things: It is easy to hate cats, when you family breeds dogs. Yet, life will change when a kitten shows up on your doorstep.
9. Youth Pastor: All youth pastors are overworked, underpaid, and treated as irresponsible college students.
10. Moving Meditation: Physical health is a gateway to spiritual fitness. Get in the zone, to get over yourself.
11. Working as a Waiter: Doctor Konigsmark will be taking your order tonight. Please read the menu before asking stupid questions.
12. We Chased Happiness: A big house in the suburbs does not as always equal success.
America is rapidly moving towards a Post-Christian culture. For the past several years, surveys from the Barna group and Pew Research have indicated approximately one-third of Millennials (Americans born between 1981 and 1996) identify with a religious group. These young men and women are neither religious nor atheist; they are often considered religious nones. Religion, especially Christianity, no longer plays a significant role in their lives. As this trend continues to rise, young Americans are rapidly distancing themselves from previous generations’ religious beliefs. Millennials no longer view the church as a source of love, generosity, and hope. Instead, the church is viewed as judgmental, hypocritical, and anti-gay.
This book, is geared towards the religious nones and dones. People who are living on the periphery of organized religion, but still want to feel welcome at the table. The story will grant individuals the gentle nudge to rise above labels. Set higher expectations for ourselves. Together, we can create new identities. Yet we cannot forget, experience changes everything.
Interest for this book will be generated through my website: standupsermons.com and the accompanying podcast with the same name. This book will be promoted locally through Christ Presbyterian and the millions of visitors who travel through Telluride every year. It will have strong presence on social media. Additionally, I will be competing on a new CBS television show in the spring of 2019. This show will be a great time to launch the book, as my performance will recorded on tv and media.
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Jericho Books, 2013. Bolz-Weber relishes her role as a progressive Lutheran minister, as she recounts her alcoholic past and tattooed history. Each chapter combines her own painful insights as well as celebratory descriptions of how she learns to overcome spiritual roadblocks. With her abrasive language and total honesty, skeptics are encouraged to connect with a bigger God than the one often presented by mainstream Christianity.
One key difference, alcohol and drugs are not part of my resurrection story. Additionally, Bolz-Weber has no problem sharing four letter words with her audience. Vulgarity is not apart of my daily ritual and certainly not something I bring to my ministry.
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, Rachel Held Evans, Thomas Nelson. 2015
Held Evans is stuck at an evangelical crossroad; she loves the Christian faith but she has become disenchanted with the church. She points to many of the flaws within the evangelical Christian movement. The hypocrisy and anti-gay agenda continue to push her further from church. Despite her opposition, something deep inside her calls her to remain in a community of worship.
Held Evans is a strong voice in the progressive Christian movement, but she is not a minister in a community of faith. It is easier to challenge the institution when you are on the outside; but I live within the walls of the church. Therefore, I represent the view of the Christian faith from the pulpit. As a spiritual leader, I am trying to guide people into an authentic experience with God.
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith: Barbara Brown Taylor, Harper One. 2012.
Barbara Brown Taylor, is one of the most gifted preachers of our time. In her memoir, Leaving Church, she wrestles with theological questions she is unable to answer. Despite her goal to lead a small church, she struggles to assert herself as the leader. Much to her surprise, she discovers being personally involved with the congregation is essential to her spiritual health. As Taylor begins to examine her faith, she realizes the God of Sunday morning is much greater than she expected.
Taylor is a seasoned and gifted minister, who has faced numerous ecclesial challenges along the way. Throughout her memoir, she is wrestling with her calling as a minister and her understanding of God.
In Stand-up Sermons, I am candidly sharing my personal struggles with depression and failure as I try to navigate an evangelical world I no longer understand. Taylor has been blessed to serve in full-time ministry, at this point in my career I am still struggling to make ends meet as a part-time waiter.
The Pastor: A Memoir: Eugene H. Peterson. Harper One. 2011.
In The Pastor, Eugene Peterson, reflects on what it means to be a pastor. The story revolves around his establishment of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. Throughout his book, Peterson offers encouragement and wisdom to the men and women who are currently serving as ministers. With years of experience, he challenges the visions for church marketing, mega pastors, and church's desire to be relevant. In closing, he believes being a faithful pastor is “paying attention and calling attention to ‘what is going on now’ between men and women, with each other and with God.”
As Peterson enters the twilight of his career, he is able to offer a gentle and elegant reflection on what it means to be a pastor. I am not telling people what it means to be a pastor; I am examining struggles along the way to becoming a pastor. My life has taken many unexpected twists and turns and I did not expect to be called into ministry.
Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Rob Bell. Harper One. 2011.
Bell believes too many false narratives are strangling the true message of Christianity. Therefore, he will not accept the simple theology of saving people from hell. Bell flips the evangelical world on its head when he challenges the existence of hell. Ultimately, he refuses to embrace an all-loving God who condemns people to hell. The end result, theology that is open and inclusive.
I agree with a great deal of Bell's theology. Far too many people are embracing a shallow connection with God to avoid hell. This is not faith. However, I am not trying to tackle theology or answer difficult questions. I am simply sharing a narrative of trials and challenges as I explore my evangelical roots.
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Chapter 2 Comedy
The year was 1998, and my precious girlfriend told me I would never leave the state of Georgia, I didn’t have enough courage to do stand-up comedy, and I would always have crooked teeth. These words ignited a fire in my life; I would get them summer teeth fixed; you know sum are here and sum are there. I had no idea, my teeth looked like New Yorkers shoving each other to get on the subway at rush hour.
Thankfully my sweet father said, “Son, I reckon it’s about time we get them teeth fixed.” If you are a parent reading this book, please do not wait until your child reaches college before helping them with braces. Just pile on more painful memories when your children are in middle school; let eighth grade be a birthday they want to forget. On a twenty first birthday, no one should be asked if they can open a bottle of beer with the bottle open attached to their teeth. Bartenders are mean; but life is cruel. As parents, we are called to limit the damage.
A few years later, I left Georgia without the love of my life, sometimes I like to call her bone of my bone; flesh on my flesh. Thankfully, her slightly tipsy diatribe inspired me to begin a nationwide journey for a new life. I promised whoever would listen, I would never return to my childhood home. I realize now, I developed a fear of being average; whatever that means. In the back of my mind, I incorrectly believed moving back to my hometown meant I failed in life. You see a graduated from a public high school, where only half of our freshman class finished their senior year. At the time of my graduation, our school was topping the charts in teen pregnancy, drug arrests, and dropout rate.
I did not have a game plan for my life, but I knew something needed to change. When I received the news that I was destined to be a crooked tooth loser; I was wearing Starwars t-shirts, living at home with my recently divorced father, attending community college, and working at a local gas station.
Despite my inauspicious lifestyle and limited world view; I was about to take the comedy world by storm. I had been telling funny stories and entertaining people my whole life. I could no longer deny the world of my immense comedic talents. With my gas station paycheck, I promptly enrolled in Jeff Justice’s Standup Comedy class. After twelve weeks of writing, practicing, and performing; all fifteen participants were invited to perform a five-minute standup set at Atlanta’s very own Punchline Comedy Club.
One the day before my first show, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament, a sports injury typically reserved for NFL running backs and professional skiers. I did it jumping off a chair to dunk a basketball; despite the fact my friend and former youth pastor, Chris Reny said, “Someone is about to get hurt.” I landed on the ground in a crumpled mess. Chris calmly walked over and said, “See guys it’s all fun and games until someone gets their eye poked out.”
The next night, with crutches in tow, I hobbled onto the stage to being my comedy career. Jeff Galloway, who served as the night’s emcee said, “The rest of the class couldn’t stand this next performer, so we beat the crap out of him.” I had no jokes about my crutches or my injury; I just acted like everything was totally normal. A comedic lesson I learned much later, always mention the obvious. If you are wearing an eyepatch to cover your pink eye, you better open your set with, “Ahoy Mateys or Shiver me Timbers.” For the love of all things holy, please do not act like wearing an eye patch or using crutches is the same as wearing socks.
As a side note, do not come on stage or perform a wedding chewing gum. If you happen to make this mistake, never spit it onto the first row or into a bridesmaid’s bouquet. As a side note, to a side note; remember the couples’ name you are marrying. Nothing will ruin a wedding day faster, then calling the bride Piggy, when her name happens to be Peggy.
Now back to the comedy; I can painfully remember the tongue lashing I received from the owner of the Punchline after the show. “You are lucky I didn’t come pull your scrawny ass off stage.” In hindsight, you swallow that gum and patiently wait seven years for your stomach to digest it. If you don’t, you might be dealing with the angry wrath of a decorated Vietnam Veteran after the wedding ceremony. As I recall, he popped my personal bubble when he grabbed me by the shirt collar and said, “You son of bitch. How dare you chew gum at my granddaughter’s wedding.” Thankfully, the bride was able to physically pry her grandfather’s fingers from my deflated ego. Repeat after me, swallow the gum.
After inappropriately disposing of my gum and tossing my crutches, I proceeded to wow the audience with my assortment of family friendly jokes. I am not one to gloat, but I was destined for greatness after I graduated from the top of my comedy class not once, but twice. These classes were filled with accountants, retired school teachers, and stay at home dads. I was the cream rising to the top of a mediocre class.
In my diluted mindset, I was ready for the lights, camera, and action of becoming America’s next great comic. There was only one little problem; I was not good. My jokes were lame. My delivery was corny. My stage presence was terrible. Sure, I understood the basic premise of a joke: setup/ punchline. At the end of the day, I was just a guy with enough courage stand in front of audience armed with a microphone and cacophony of useless stories with weak payoffs. Telling jokes and being a stand-up comic are two different things. At the outset, I was telling jokes but I had missed the art of becoming a comedian.
Here is something most people do not consider, for many comedians, the stage serves as a therapy session. We come onto the stage guided by our deepest fears, insecurities, and shortcomings. To heal, we poke holes into the fragile windows in our life. We find humor in the recesses of depression, alcoholism, and heartbreak. When we openly address the pain with humor, as move through the process we begin to steal power from some of the darkest moments of our lives.
For the past twenty years I have walked onto to stage to tragically face some of the darkest moments in my life. When I was sixteen years old, my high school girlfriend became pregnant by someone else. I loved her response to the situation, “I am not sure how this happened; I just got pregnant.” She casually dismissed her pregnancy like a common cold. Naturally I responded with immense grace and compassion, “Of course I love you, but just so you know; you got problems, you got milk, you don’t got pregnant.” Yes, I am fully aware my grammar is beyond terrible in my prior sentence.
Other times I’ve come to the stage willing to face my own personal demons. During my time as a comedian, I have carefully addressed my clinically diagnosed bi-polar disorder from stage. Most people do not understand what it means to be living as a manic depressive. On my worst days, I am riding a crazy roller coaster of emotions filled with the hyperactivity of a jumbo pixie stick being that is being washed down with ten shots of double espresso. My eye balls are bulging out of my head, I’m screaming at the sweet eighty-year-old librarian at the top of my lungs for enforcing my fifteen cent over due library charge, and I could wet my pants at any moment feeling. Mix this heavenly sugar rush combo with a twenty-four-hour heavy metal music binge; then hop into your old broken-down Volkswagen Beetle; you’re all jacked up and going nowhere fast.
Other times, I brought attention to my litany of learning disabilities. Thankfully, I was only diagnosed with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and mild stupidity. As we have been reminded by many, you can’t fix stupid; but you sure can laugh about it. The point, the audience connects with self-deprecating humor. Nobody wants to hear from a comedian who has never struggled through life.
Bombing on stage, is one of the greatest fears people have about attempting to perform stand-up comedy. In the first year of seeking to become America’s next great comic; I made a complete fool of myself at Chris Tucker’s comedy club in Atlanta. At this point in time, Chris Tucker was near the height of his Hollywood fame. He was a well-known comedian and earned big screen recognition with co-star, Jackie Chan, in Rush Hour.
If you have not figured this out by now, I am a skinny white kid with a heavy southern accent. One of my best friends from childhood is black, but this does not mean I understand black culture. My longtime high school girlfriend was black, but her older sister called me white devil. Her father was really a big fan, one time he even spoke to me, “Don’t eat my food.” It was not the olive branch I was expecting, but I am certain somewhere in the deep recesses of his heart he would have discovered the generosity to share a couple stale chips. In sum, my Anglo-Saxon DNA and white-collar childhood did not guarantee success at a predominantly black comedy club.
I arrived at the club Tucker’s club three hours early to sign-up for my first open mike. For some unknown reason I brought my new girlfriend to the show. I would definitely impress her with my chops on the microphone. In mind, I envisioned walking onto stage and winning the audience over. They were going to love me and my material. In hindsight, this is pure stupidity on my part.
Just because I had the courage to get on stage and regurgitate some jokes did not mean I was a comic. Nope, I was just some lame white kid in oversized jeans reciting jokes I had written into a microphone. There was no passion in my comedy. No personal connection with the audience. I did not understand the rhythm and cadence to delivering a comedy set. I knew to pause for laughter but that’s only if the audience laughs. It never crossed my mind that the audience would not connect with my unbelievable college roommate jokes.
With as much confidence as I could muster, I crossed the stage as the emcee announced, “Let’s welcome to the stage, our first comic, with a last name I can’t pronounce, Andy.” I confidently grabbed the mike and launched into my first joke, “So my college roommate has a lot in common with her pet rabbit. They skip class, hop onto the couch naked, and they literally leave their crap everywhere.” All I heard from the audience was crickets after I landed on the punchline, “leave their crap everywhere.” Not even my girlfriend laughed. Instead I watched her sneak out the side door to avoid further humiliation. As I started to deliver my second joke, the DJ starting scratching on the turn tables. The emcee hustled to the stage and grabbed the mike, “Yo, yo… Andy, that joke was whack.” The good news, he was only able to mildly humiliate me one more time before I left the stage. “Sorry about that last comic, and please forgive us but the next comic is also white.” Emcee took a moment to collect his thoughts and then looked at the audience, “Damn, I thought this was supposed to be a black comedy club.” As I was running out the back door of the club to avoid further shame, the other white comic grabbed the mike to make one more commment, “Yo son, why don’t you come back with some real jokes after you hit puberty.”
Here is the truth, all comedians bomb on stage. It is just a price you pay to play the game, but I did not know that at the time. I wish another comedian could have patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll knock em dead next time.” Instead, I drove my girlfriend home and we sat in total silence. Oh my gosh that was painful. I was secretly hoping she would try to make a quick getaway as we racing down the highway. Instead, we just sat there and wallowed in my deflated ego.
The good news, she waited several months before stabbing me in the back. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. She literally plunged a knife into my back while we were doing the dishes. I jumped, screamed, and yelled the moment I felt the knife slice my skin. “Did you just stab me?”
She looked at me indignantly for a couple seconds. “I did not stab you.”
I was incredulous, “You are holding a knife dripping with blood and I am bleeding. Please tell me who stabbed me.”
I swear this was her explanation. “You upset me, so I was making a stabbing motion behind your back and you backed into the knife. So basically it’s your fault for running into the knife.”
I hope this helps explains my total delusional outlook on life at this time, but I did not break up with. I was twenty-one years old and thought I was in love with this ax wielding murderer. It is a common plea to refer to a former boyfriend or girlfriend as crazy, but I have scars to prove the crazy. As we say at my house, its best to keep the crazy in the bottle until after you get married.
The journey has been longer than expecting, but I am closing in on the final weeks of the completing the manuscript for publishers.
I hit my goal of 100 pre-sales. Y’all are making my dreams become reality! You can expect to receive your book in the spring ...