The Upper Room: Victoria Jackson and Michele Pillar
November 10, 2018
On Saturday, November 10th, The Upper Room presented a joint concert with comedian Victoria Jackson and singer Michele Pillar.
Founder and host, Ron Strand, greeted the audience at 7:30 pm and modeled the brand new Upper Room T-shirts. He then gave members of the audience a chance to win a T-shirt by playing a variation of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Those who raised their hand had to produce items that Ron read off a card. Items included a Starbucks card, $50 bill, bag of peanuts, foreign currency, pocket New Testament and packet of Stevia. Although there were no takers, Ron asked if anyone had a restraining order on their person. It was a humorous moment that served as the perfect segue for the first guest of the evening.
Ron introduced Victoria Jackson, who took the stage wearing an ornate black dress and toting a ukulele. Victoria opened with a few jokes and when one of them didn’t land, she blamed it on the fact that she’s “mostly retired.” This type of self-deprecating humor completely won over the audience—many times, these improvised asides were funnier than the rehearsed parts of her routine.
Spontaneous wit served Victoria well during her career as a comedian. Victoria appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” a remarkable 18 times. Most notably, Victoria was a performer on “Saturday Night Live” for 6 years during the 80s and 90s. She referred to SNL as “the super funnest job in the universe.” However, she did admit that it’s hard to live a Christian life in Hollywood.
In between moments of levity, Victoria shared some of her testimony. She became a Christian at a young age and was a gymnast in her early years. Her father was a Baptist deacon who also had a background in Vaudeville. Victoria married a fire-eater (the subject of several punch lines in her act) and became a mother.
Highlights of Victoria’s performance included the songs “Bimbos in Bikinis,” which she admitted was probably a bit edgy for a Christian show, and “Broken World, Baby,” which she performed with the ukulele. One of the funniest moments of Victoria’s routine was when she relayed how one Christmas she gave the entire cast of SNL the Bible on cassette.
Ron introduced three-time Grammy nominee, Michele Pillar, to the stage for the second half of the concert. Michele began by sharing her testimony. She described what it was like growing up with an alcoholic mother. Michele said that even before she believed in God she knew that he lived under her bed, because her drunken mother never looked for her there. Michele believed that as long as she stayed under her bed, she was invisible.
Such soul-bearing honesty was unexpected at the start of the concert, especially before she’d even sung her first song, “The Love of God.” Michele then performed a medley of songs from Maranatha! Music’s “Praise 2” album. Included were the popular worship choruses: “Thou Art Worthy,” “In Moments Like These,” and “Jesus, What a Wonder You Are.”
Michele sang the Lenny LeBlanc song, “Believe,” from her 2016 release. Next, Michele performed “Song of Mary” from her Christmas album. Her voice was in top form on the song as she belted and sustained some incredibly high notes.
Michele presented some material from a talk she often gives at women’s conferences. Michele used visual aids to depict the various garments she’s worn in her life and how many of them have been associated with feelings of shame, fear and inadequacy. She conveyed a powerful truth that “restoration takes a lifetime and there’s no shame in it.”
Michele closed out the concert by singing “You Untangled Me,” a deeply personal song about the work God has done in her life.
Filled with humor, song and many meaningful moments, the joint concert with Victoria Jackson and Michele Pillar was another amazing night at The Upper Room.