So this month marks 20 years since the birth of Righteous Insanity. You'd think I'd be on top of this, waxing nostalgic and all, but I've been so busy with my wrestling book project, I haven't had time!
The story of Righteous Insanity actually goes back to the fall of 1993, when youth pastor Jim Veihl asked me to take over the youth drama team at Northside Christian Church in New Albany, Indiana. I said no, but I lost the argument. I began writing and directing skits for our youth program, and in the spring of 1994, Jim asked me if I wanted to teach a workshop at Christ In Youth Conference.
I put together a small skit book (4 skits) for the workshop and titled it, "Righteous Insanity." When those skits and others proved to be a hit with the youth leaders at CIY, Jim suggested I sell them rather than just give them away. One of my students, Jason Potts, suggested using Righteous Insanity as the company name, and off I went.
The first catalog had less than 30 skits, and it was all mail order at first. I soon added the custom skit writing service, and that really got people's attention. Over the next six years the skit catalog grew and grew. Some classics were born, like "An Annoying Little Sin," the award-winning "Wicked Ruler," and the one act play "Aliens." Some turds were written too. Ask any former Dramamaniac about "The Great Froggy Savior."
I met some good friends along the way, including my life-long best friend Tyler Bradley. Met Tyler at the 1996 CIY Conference, and only went back in 1997 when Tyler threatened to kill me if I didn't.
After seven years with the Northside group, Youth for Christ in Louisville recruited me for a new drama program. I left the Dramamaniacs behind to lead YFC's drama team with a production of the school violence play, "The Waiting Room." I also co-founded the short lived organization Dramatic Youth with Jeff Boxerman, and we hosted two youth drama conferences.
After a year with YFC I put together a 6 person Righteous Insanity touring group to put on the play, "God Told Me To Break Up With You." Even though we only traveled on weekends, six proved to be a hard number to keep going, and the group disbanded. Then, after making plans to take a group to Youth Encounter's youth congresses the next year, I put together a smaller team of four.
The team of four became a team of three - myself, Mary Schmelz, and Jamie Bratcher - and we hit the road full time after one year of part-time. Three soon grew to four, and then splintered into two. I take most of the blame for the inner squabbles that led to the split. (Note to wannabes dreaming of their own drama ministry: have outside accountability for your leaders!!)
Jamie and I continued traveling for another two years. We also began to dabble in short films. Beginning with the Adam and Eve shorts, we produced dozens of short films, including the Fluffy trilogy. A meeting in New York with fellow writer Sara Moore and like-minded dreamers George Soltysik, Brian Foster, and Sharon Weaver (now George's wife; isn't that sweet?) led to the creation of two now defunct Christian comedy sites, Sunday School Dropouts and Getyoked.
Righteous Insanity shot its last short in 2013, a fun little comedy called "What's His Name?" The films are gone, but the skits, plays, and skit-writing remain. In addition to that, I am now writing kids curriculum for Children's Ministry Deals. I'm still trying new things (like the aforementioned wrestling book), still writing for other film makers, and always testing new ideas. In 2014 I introduced two men's Bible studies, Company Man and Scotty Love. If these two take off, more will follow.
I can honestly say I have no idea what the next 20 years hold. It's amazing to me this thing lasted that long! I am thankful for the opportunity God gave me to be creative and serve Him. I am very thankful to folks like Jim, Tyler, the Dramamaniacs, Mary, Jamie, Sara, George, Brian, Sharon, Jeff, Nevan and Duncan at CMD, film makers Timothy Paul Taylor and Chip Rossetti, and frequent RI film actor Denny Grinar for their unending support and encouragement. And I'm thankful to my wife Jessica and my kids for continuing to support me and inspire me.
Thanks for 20 amazing years. Let me know how i may continue to serve you and your ministry.