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Ken Davis, a Christian comedian, author and motivational speaker, will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Publicity image)

Christian humorist Ken Davis to perform at Corn Palace on Sunday

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Ken Davis jokes that he started telling jokes from the moment the doctor said, “It’s a boy.”

“I came out looking at the world, not differently, but seeing things other people don’t see,” he said.

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The best-selling author, humorist and motivational speaker will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Tickets still available are $10 in advance at the Corn Palace box office, at 995-8430 or cornpalace.org, or $15 at the door. The event is sponsored by First Reformed Church.

Kevin Karhoff, associate pastor of the church, said all of the seats are the stadium seats, because the event will set up a portable stage on the main floor of the Corn Palace, instead of using the main stage. He said this is a new endeavor for First Reformed Church.

“We felt like we wanted to sponsor an event that could impact our community, and offer our community an opportunity to invite people to come hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and Ken does a great job of using his outstanding comedy to open the door to share the good news,” Karhoff said.

As for what exactly to expect from the show, Davis said that depends on the night.

“Sometimes a cell phone will go off, something else will happen, and we’ll take a detour,” he said. “That’s when I really get excited, because we’re in uncharted territory.”

He promises audiences of all ages will enjoy themselves. But no matter what, he offers his own “no-money back guarantee”: “If you don’t have a good time, we guarantee we will not give your money back,” he said.

Despite that sense of humor, Davis doesn’t classify himself as a comedian. At one point, he studied for the ministry, but then didn’t pursue that as a career.

“Today there are thousands of churches across the country, they have special meetings just thanking God that didn’t happen,” he said somberly, before chuckling. He tried the night club comedy circuit, but soon left, saying it wasn’t for him. “I’m not a stand-up comic. I’m a story teller,” he said. In the early 1970s, Davis said people started asking him to speak. He began to answer those requests and said he’s never looked back. Last year, the 67-year-old said he had the best year of his life. It’s the year he published his book, “Fully Alive,” which has been made into a movie and is also the name of Davis’ current tour. The title stems, in part, from a quote by St. Irenaeus, a second-century church bishop and apologist who said, “the Glory of God is a man fully alive.”

“When you stop being curious, when you stop having adventure, you stop living, really,” Davis said.

The book details Davis’ journey through physical, spiritual and emotional struggles, and how he was able to work through those struggles and, as he puts it, start living again. After refocusing on his faith, and throwing in a bit of fitness, Davis said he is happier now than he’s ever been.

“What helped me was, I refocused on what it was all about,” he said. “I had lost site of the very person I was talking about.”

Seeing how his book and his stories have touched lives has been amazing to watch, and Davis said he doesn’t plan to stop any time soon.

“I just got this car started, and I’m going to race it now,” he said.

But he still doesn’t quite know how to categorize himself. Comedian? Motivational speaker? Evangelist? Maybe a little of each. Mostly, Davis said he tries to weave together the Gospel story with his own, mixing humor with honesty.

“I really just talk about my life and what has inspired me and what has changed me. That is so tied up with my faith, it just comes out,” Davis said. “It’s the most important part of who I am.”

The Franklin, Tenn., resident said he is excited to travel to Mitchell, and to see the Corn Palace — though whether it’s his first visit is under debate.

“Everybody that works with me says that I haven’t seen it, but I think I have,” he said. “They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

While here, he said one of his main goals is to cause pain.

“I absolutely love it when I get emails from people saying they had to go to the doctor the next day because their ribs hurt,” he said.

Once, he even got an email from an audience member who said he’d had a heart attack.

“I wrote to apologize, and he said, ‘no, thanks, that was the best heart attack I’d ever had,’ ” Davis said.

His other goal every time he gets on stage is to inspire people.

“I want people to walk out of that show saying, ‘I’m going to be a different person when I walk out of here. I’m going to renew my faith. I’m going to trust and I’m going to risk, and I’m going to live,’ ” he said.

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