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TV's Top Warm-Up Comic Screens New Film at Regent

By Amanda Morad | April 24, 2014

Robert G. Lee addresses CTV students.

During the week of Regent University's Film Showcase, Robert G. Lee, TV's top warm-up comic, spoke to students in the School of Communication & the Arts about "the funny business" of Hollywood and the making of his first feature film.

"I came to Hollywood to be a writer, hopefully a director, and I got into standup comedy because I was the cheapest I could hire to do my material," he said. Now, Lee has done it all as the writer, director, producer and actor for his soon-to-be-released Christian screwball comedy, "Can I Get a Witness Protection?"

The film is about a man who witnesses a murder and is placed in witness protection as an associate pastor of a church. But with no church background to help him fake it, his attempts at blending in result in a lot of hilarious—and ultimately meaningful—moments.

"Can I Get a Witness Protection?" screened at Regent on Thursday, April 10, and Lee followed up the side-splitting film with commentary on both the process and the philosophy.

"God has a great sense of humor, and the proof is us," he said. "What I find ironic is that people don't see God's sense of humor that He's given to us."

The Christian film market, Lee explained, is overrun by drama. But as a standup comedian for Christian audiences for the last 25 years, Lee knows better than most that Christians love to laugh too.

"It's all about humility when we're able to see our foibles," he noted. "I'm awed by it, but I think the human experience is hilarious."

Lee noted that Christians never had a voice in media during the 60s and 70s, but then some pioneering musicians showed the Christian community that their market was ready to listen. From those early music industry ventures, Christian artists began contributing in video and film, and now the Christian film market has never been greater.

"The equipment is now getting cheap enough that we can take equal part in the industry," he said. "Now we have to raise our artistry to the level that matches the secular industry."

Regarding the process of actually making the film, Lee is quick to preach patience to aspiring filmmakers. "Can I Get a Witness Protection?" is the culmination of 14 years of preparation Lee has acquired while serving as the drama director of Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.

"A man makes his plans, God guides his steps," he quoted from Proverbs 16. Though leading an extensive ministry department, writing and directing skits and producing videos wasn't on Lee's agenda, the skills he gathered over the years readied him for full-on low-budget feature filmmaking.

"God was setting me up and I had no idea," he said, encouraging students to take heart. "God is putting things together and directing your steps."

Lee then gave students a detailed list of tips to remember as they embark on their first low-budget feature films. Since Lee wrote, directed, acted in and produced the film, he had valuable advice to share about everything from unions, to casting, to locations, to scoring.

Among the top nuggets of wisdom? "Expect things to go wrong," Lee said. "No general goes to war and gets depressed when the other side shoots back."

Watch the video of Lee's discussion with students.


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