Nick Taylor accompanied his wife, Mindy, to the audition. "There's so many beautiful women here," he said, looking around. "It's nerve-racking."

The atmosphere was beginning to have an effect on Taylor. "People have been saying I look like Bryton's brother," he confided to Unreal. Maybe, we suggested, he could play Devon's evil twin?

"Nah," Taylor said. "I'd rather be his fill-in twin. Who's the scriptwriter? We need to set that up."

Dan Zettwoch
David Peters: "There is some pointed irony or sarcasm. Some of it is pretty crass."
David Peters: "There is some pointed irony or sarcasm. Some of it is pretty crass."

Laugh and the Lord Laughs with You
In the beginning, David Peters decided to write an encyclopedic account of biblical humor. Then came the editing. The result is the 444-page tome The Many Faces of Biblical Humor. Remember the Good Book? With all those hilarious stories about sacrificing a son on the altar, turning wives into salt and nailing a certain someone to the cross? Now you can yuk your way through it!

Unreal caught up with Peters, a Washington University engineering professor, to find out what's so funny about the word of God. Given his background in helicopter mechanics, we expected a choppy ride.

Unreal: What's the first joke in Genesis?

David Peters: The dysfunctional families. Jacob was supposed to marry Rachel and ended up with Leah. So what happened was, Rachel finally got so angry that Jacob stopped sleeping with Leah. Then Rachel wanted mandrakes, or may apples, which was considered to be an aphrodisiac, from Leah. So Rachel said, "You can have a night with Jacob if you give me those." There's an irony in the story, because Leah gets pregnant. That one kinda backfired on Rachel.

This sounds like Jerry Springer stuff, not intellectual humor.

It's all about what it means to be funny. There is some pointed irony or sarcasm. Some of it is pretty crass, like in the book of Ezekiel when God says, "You're going after false gods." He says, "You go out and have sex with men as big as donkeys. You're just like adulterous lovers that want men with the biggest male members, as big as a donkey, instead of coming back to me."

OK. Give me a typical joke in the Bible.

Before David was king, Saul was trying to kill him. David ran away to the Philistines and pretended he was a madman. The Philistines hauled him in front of King Achish, who looks down at David foaming at the mouth. He says: "Why did you bring a lunatic? I have enough lunatics in my entourage!"

Even Jesus used a little humor. He said to the religious leaders of the day: "You're trying to get a speck out of someone else's eye and you've got a log."

Ever think the timing of this is tricky, coming as it does at the end of a lame-duck evangelical's presidency?

This is an exciting time in America. These next few years are going to be great. I don't see this book as tied to any one brand of Christianity or one brand of religion. The Bible is one of the best pieces of literature every written. It was just part of the culture.

And you read it once a year?

It's fine if you read about six pages a day. It's not a huge task. Some people even purchase special Bibles that have it marked out. I try to spend time and pick out something to concentrate on. 

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