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HOUSTON In an era dominated by shock comedians who often push the envelope with their edgy social commentary, a new breed of entertainer is cleaning up the language and putting the faith in funny.

Among the leaders in this emerging genre is Marcus D. Wiley, the co-host of the nationally syndicated Yolanda Adams Morning Show, which is taped in Houston.

I grew up in church and I worked for a church for a long time, said Wiley, who draws his inspiration from the church pews and the minister s pulpit. All this gives me fuel and ammunition for the stage.

Perhaps Wiley s best known act is Bishop Secular, his self-proclaimed alter ego that has catapulted the 40-year-old to international stardom.

I just utilize a lot of church themes, a lot of church talk and a lot of church regalia, he said.

To an outsider, finding humor in church could seem a bit odd.

But Grammy award winning gospel singer Yolanda Adams believes it makes perfect sense.

The word of God says laughter does good like a medicine, said Adams. So why wouldn t you laugh? Especially if it s in the Bible.

Wiley said that while he respects comic legends like Richard Prior and Eddie Murphy, it s important for him to stay true to himself.

And some other local comics seem inspired by Wiley s example.

All D. Freeman has spent more than a decade collecting small paychecks in smoke-field lounges and comedy clubs. But now, he says he might consider taking his act in a new direction.

I m going to take out every four-letter word that I ve ever used in my act, he said.

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