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Comedy writer shares faith journey

Bridget Feeney | Friday, September 14, 2012

Writer, producer and story editor Tom Leopold served up his reflections on faith with a side of comedy during his one-man show, “A Comedy Writer Finds God,” on Thursday night at Saint Mary’s.

Leopold, who has worked with shows like “Will and Grace,” “Cheers,” “Seinfeld” and “The Chevy Chase Show,” converted from Judaism to Catholicism a few years ago.

At the beginning of the show, Leopold explained the title of his program.

“God was fine, He wasn’t lost,” he said. “I may have been a little bit, but He was fine.”

The performance included an array of jokes about his life growing up but also some commentary on how he got to where he is today. The show told the story about his personal journey to faith and finding his place in the world with God by his side.

“That’s the great thing about having faith and religion – feeling like you belong,” he said.

Leopold grew up in a Jewish family in Miami but never really gave much thought to God as a child or even as an adult. He said when he got married and had his two daughters, he still had not truly considered why or how he had been so fortunate.

“I knew [my family] was blessed,” he said. “I never stopped to think by who, I just knew that we were lucky.”

Leopold said his religious experiences began to change a few years ago when his youngest daughter became deathly ill and had to be hospitalized.  

After the family experienced a particularly difficult Christmas Eve away from her while she underwent treatment, he said he felt “so sad that I could break” and decided to pray to God for a sign.

“I didn’t know how to do it, but I actually started to pray,” he said. “For the first time in my life, I was praying.”

Through a series of events, conversations and experiences, Leopold said he seriously considered converting to Catholicism. He said he found himself at this new point in his life, and it was a welcome and necessary change.

“Religion is a leap of faith,” he said. “After everything I had been through and that had happened to me, I was ready to leap.”

Tonight’s performance concluded Leopold and comedian Bill Persky’s two-day visit to the College.

Persky, a five-time Emmy award winning writer, director and producer, is best known for his work on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Kate and Allie,” “That Girl,” “Who’s the Boss” and “The Cosby Show.”

Persky introduced Leopold during Thursday’s performance, and he said the headliner was a man very dear to him.

During the trip, the comedic pair met with students for meals, taught private master classes and gave workshops.

The duo also worked closely with English, theatre and communication students for discussion panels. This was Persky’s second visit to Saint Mary’s in just six months and Leopold’s first visit to the College.

Persky said he was very excited to be back at Saint Mary’s. 

“It feels like coming back home,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time with the students here and they give you hope for the future. The young women at this school are so delightful.”

Senior Rose Franzen was on of the students able to eat lunch with Leopold and Persky during their visit. She also attended the various workshops, master classes and Leopold’s one-man show.

Franzen said she especially enjoyed Thursday evening’s performance for its inclusion of faith and God into the world of humor and laughter.

“I thought [the performance] was really great,” she said. “I loved how he wove his comedy into his religious experience. Like he said – it’s not perfect, it’s him.”