When comedian Chonda Pierce first spoke publicly about her battle with depression and decision to take medication, business advisors warned it might ruin her career.
"But it didn’t," Pierce told a packed house May 10 at Grace World Outreach Church in Brooksville.
Grace World was one of four final stops on Pierce’s Getting Back to Funny Tour featuring singer Karyn Williams.
My mom and I attended the show for a pre-Mother’s Day evening out. More than 2,000 people filled the church, where Pierce delivered laughs as promised. She joked about everything from menopause to the backlash she receives as a Trump supporter.
"I don’t have to buy toilet paper anymore," she said. "I say one positive thing about Trump, and my front yard is covered."
Following intermission, Pierce, 58, shared her emotional testimony of growing up a conflicted pastor’s daughter and finding comfort in Jesus Christ.
Pierce’s father suffered from bipolar disorder, but because the church disapproved of medicating psychiatric illness, his illness went untreated. He physically and sexually abused Pierce, her two sisters and their mother. As a teen, Pierce lost her younger sister to leukemia. Her older sister died in a car accident.
Grief hangs on, she told the audience.
In 2015, Pierce appeared in Laughing in the Dark, a documentary about her depression, the loss of her mother, estrangement from her daughter and the death of her husband of 31 years, who died suddenly of a stroke during the filming. Through it all, she relied on scripture. She told fans the truth.
As Pierce spoke about her difficult experiences, she interjected humor. She described her late Nazarene grandmother as, "just mean,"’ but laughed about the woman’s "tower of babel" bun.
"My mother put the fun in dysfunctional. My grandmother put the fun in funeral," she said.
Pierce, who says her mental illness runs in her genes, urged Christians in the audience to stop judging others.
"Nobody has a problem talking about the medicine they take for their bladder problem. Why is the mind different than any other organ?" she asked.
Pierce also touched on the Christian image.
"It isn’t us against them," she said.
Despite her struggles, Pierce considers herself blessed. Pierce and Williams took time mid-show to invite people to sponsor a child through Food for the Hungry. In America, children living in poverty can use food stamps. There are organizations to help people in need.
"In some of these other countries, help isn’t coming," Pierce said. "Jesus said to help the widows and the orphans. I believe he meant it literally."
Pierce offered this advice to fellow widows.
"Go home, make a list of the things you need, print out copies and then pass them out at church on Sunday," she said, cracking up.