Funny Man Dan arrives at the Eternity studio on an electric unicycle. It’s a fitting entrance for the “world’s best children’s comedian” – that is, he clarifies, according to his mum.
Before long, he’s balancing a chair on his chin.
“Kid Dan was very shy … But then I got saved … and found my voice.” – Dan Lee-Archer
There’s no denying Funny Man Dan’s unique entertainment brand – which he describes as “bounce-around comedy” – is compelling and it has earned him a huge following of kids and parents.
Australia’s Funny Man Dan (otherwise known as FMD, or plain old Dan Lee-Archer) has been an integral part of Hillsong Kids for 16 years. During that time he’s written and sung on two of Hillsong Kids’ eight albums – Crazy Noise and Follow You – and appeared on the Can You Believe It? DVD.
He’s one of the main stars on the Hillsong Kids YouTube channel with 83,500 followers worldwide.
Dan also has his own YouTube Channel FMD.TV, with 330 videos ranging from Super Mario commentaries to night-time pranks. And he’s performed live in front of many thousands of kids across the world, with his circus antics captured on his video Funny Man Dan Live: Hello, as well as on Hamish and Andy.
“Balancing is the number one circus skill that I have kept,” says Dan, reminiscing about his days busking with friends in his home state of Tasmania, before he became FMD.
“We spent two years busking on the weekends and traveling around the state. Our big finale was one guy rode a unicycle and juggled, another friend juggled a chainsaw and I juggled a bowling ball, an egg and fire, and caught the egg in my hat.”
But there’s more to this performer than circus tricks – including his Christian faith. In fact, it was Jesus who made Dan funny in the first place.
“Kid Dan was very shy … I just kept to myself; I was a bit of an odd child. But then as I grew up, I remember going to a Christian camp. I got saved there, found my voice and started to become more myself. I started going by Dan instead of Daniel, and it just kind of changed me as a person.”
So when Dan was first asked to perform at Hillsong Kids in 2003, he had already honed his circus skills, his funny bone and his love of Christ.
“From there, they asked me to do Hillsong Conference, and it was awesome,” he says.
That conference also gave birth to his “Funny Man Dan” title (although to this day, it’s a mystery who came up with this name, used on a PowerPoint slide to introduce him).
Dan spends a lot of his time co-writing Hillsong Kids’ ‘Big’ curriculum, along with his good mate and Hillsong Kids pastor David Wakerley. The curriculum has been used by at least 10,000 churches across the world, and this year celebrates its tenth birthday.
To coincide with this milestone, Funny Man Dan has launched his first album – Songs of Some Silliness – which collates 20 of his best songs from the curriculum throughout the past decade.
“These songs are from ten years of the Big curriculum. So we did themes like faith, hope and love and unlikely heroes – talking about different people from the Bible who didn’t realise they would become heroes. The songs were written on those themes, so [the album] is a collection, rather than a dedicated effort. I’m pretty sure the next album, if we try, could be made in nine-and-a-half years,” he jokes.
When asked to select his favourite songs on the album, Dan chooses “It was Science” – about a genius hamster unleashed in a science lab who is set to take over the world.
“It has no context at all. If you’d seen the episode [of the Big Curriculum] it’s attached to, it would make sense. But there’s absolutely zero context and we put it on there anyway because it’s funny. So I like that no one would really get that.” (SIDE NOTE: For those who do know about the hamster, Dan says he’s alive and well and is the majority shareholder in Big HQ.)
“I got my ministry and a wife all in the same day, which is really, really cool.” – Dan Lee-Archer
His other top-two favourite songs from his album are “Fruit … the Spiritual Kind” and “Talking ‘bout Love”.
And since he mentioned it, Eternity asks Dan to open up about the love of his own life – Jasmine, his wife of 12 years – who he met on that first night he was asked to perform at Hillsong Kids.
“So I got my ministry and a wife all in the same day, which is really, really cool,” says Dan.
In describing “FMDW” (Funny Man Dan’s Wife), he says: “She laughs at things that I do that no one else would find funny, and she likes to torment me. She thinks I have the best reaction if you throw water at me or put a cold hand on my back or anything like that. She finds me very predictable but she still laughs a lot.”
“We have a lot of fun together. We laugh a lot in our house and she wouldn’t say this, but she saved me from myself. She’s just the best.”
“I try and do that as often as I can, tell kids that they’re incredible, awesome and amazing.” – Dan Lee-Archer
Along with Jasmine, Dan has three other girls in his life: his daughters Grace (10) Mya (7) and Olivia (5).
“I’m surrounded by women. It’s my childhood dream – except it looks a bit different and costs a lot more. But it’s awesome.”
Outside his home, Dan also still finds it awesome to be surrounded by kids.
“If you can make a kid laugh, it’s awesome … if I can come in and perform and make them laugh and make that connection. Then the best part is afterwards – I always make time to go walk around, high-five the kids and say hello.”
“I try and do that as often as I can, tell kids that they’re incredible, awesome and amazing.
“Kids open their hearts to you when you make them laugh for some reason, and so I want to plant a seed that they’re awesome and that I think they’re great and they’re going to do awesome things.”More