The Lighter Side of Billy Graham

By   •   July 15, 2015

BG smiling

Did you know the Bible actually talks about laughter? See what it has to say. Read ‘A Time to Laugh’: 5 Ways to Add Laughter to Your Life.

Funny things are bound to happen over six-plus decades of worldwide ministry. Here are 10 humorous accounts from the life of Billy Graham … and don’t miss the video at the end!

Directionally Challenged?

Billy Graham once told about the time in a small town when he asked a boy how to get to the post office. After getting directions, Mr. Graham invited him to come to his Crusade that evening.

“You can hear me telling everyone how to get to heaven,” he told the boy.

The boy’s response? “I don’t think I’ll be there. You don’t even know your way to the post office.”

The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham by Harold Myra


“I heard about a man some time ago who had a watermelon patch, and some young rascals in the community were stealing him blind.

“So he said, ‘All right, I’ll get ’em.’ So he put up a sign in his watermelon patch that said, ‘One of these melons is poison.’ He went to bed and got up the next morning, and sure enough they hadn’t stolen a watermelon. Everything was the same, except the sign had been changed. It now read, ‘Two of these watermelons is poison.'”

—Billy Graham at the 1958 Charlotte Crusade, as told in The Wit and Wisdom of Billy Graham by Bill Adler

The Rod

“The Bible warns very strongly that you are to obey your parents. The rod is considered old-fashioned in many homes. Psychiatrists say it will warp your personality. When I did something wrong, my mother warped part of me, but it wasn’t my personality.”

—Billy Graham at the 1957 New York Crusade

Riding the Elevator

“I was coming down on an elevator with some friends of mine and a man got on about the fifth floor and said, ‘I hear Billy Graham is on this elevator,’ and one of my friends pointed in my direction and said, ‘Yes, there he is.’

“The man looked me up and down for about 30 seconds and he said, ‘My, what an anticlimax.’”

—Billy Graham at the 1965 Houston Crusade

BG laughing
Billy Graham’s ministry team has had plenty of laughs throughout the years.

Into the Rainstorm

When one of Billy Graham’s uncles died, he was about to begin a Crusade in Kansas. To make the funeral in time, he and George Beverly Shea boarded a small plane headed for Oklahoma—and flown by a student pilot. Mr. Graham wrote:

“We soon flew into a rainstorm. To cover my anxiety, I talked to the pilot again.

“‘What do you do for a living?’ I asked him.

“‘I lay carpet.’

“‘He lays carpet,’ repeated Bev with another doubtful nod.

“The worse the storm became, the more I talked.

“‘By the way, how long have you been flying?’

“‘Well, I’ve been working at it, off and on, for six months,’ he said proudly.

“‘I suppose you have your pilot’s license?’

“‘Oh, yes, sir, I have my pilot’s license,’ he assured me.

“‘And you have your license to carry passengers?’

“‘Well, no, sir, I don’t have that yet,’ he admitted.

“‘Don’t have that yet,’ repeated Bev, nodding in my direction.

“‘Have you ever flown this plane before?’ I asked, suspecting the answer.

“‘Not this plane,’ he said.

“‘Not this plane,’ repeated Bev, this time shaking his head.

“Bev and I would have jumped if only we could have found the chutes.”

—Billy Graham in his autobiography, Just As I Am

A Comment from the Crowd

Billy liked to tell the story of a pastor who said in a sermon, “Apart from Christ, there was never a perfect man.” Someone in the congregation interrupted him, saying, “Oh yes, there was. My wife’s first husband!”

The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham by Harold Myra

A Great Impact

Some years ago I was on a plane, and sitting across from me was the mayor of Charlotte, John Belk. There was a man sitting near us who was obviously intoxicated. He was acting boisterous and rude, bothering people around him, harassing the flight attendants and even trying to pinch women who made their way down the aisle. Trying to distract him and perhaps calm him down, John Belk tapped him on the shoulder, pointed in my direction, and said, “Do you know who’s sitting right there?”

“Who?” the man answered.

“That’s Billy Graham.”

The man jumped from his seat, came over to me with his hand extended, and said enthusiastically, “Put ‘er there, Reverend. Your preaching has done me so much good!”

—Told by BGEA writer Tom Bowers, who heard Billy Graham share this story with former President Bill Clinton in 1996

Hit Me Again

“I heard about a man who was supposed to preach for 20 minutes and he spoke for 30 and 40 and 50. An hour and 20 minutes later he was still speaking. The man who introduced him couldn’t stand it any longer and he picked up a gavel and threw it at the speaker. It missed the speaker and hit a man in the front row, and as the man in the front row was going into subconsciousness, he said, ‘Hit me again, I can still hear him.’”

—Billy Graham at the 1965 Houston Crusade

Sinners on The Tonight Show

Johnny Carson once asked Billy Graham, “Billy, why would you come on a show with worldly people like us?” Billy cleverly answered, “Johnny, even Jesus ate with publicans and sinners!”

Count It All Joy by Grady Wilson

Have I met you?

On a trip to Scotland, Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, attended an elaborate dinner as guests of the Duke of Hamilton. It was held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Billy Graham wrote:

“Almost everyone I met at that dinner seemed to be a lord or lady.

“‘Your Grace,’ I said to one of the handsome young men dressed in black tie and tux, ‘I don’t believe I’ve met you.’

“‘No, sir, you haven’t,’ he said, somewhat amused. ‘I’m your waiter this evening.’

“I assured him that I was still happy to meet him.

“‘And you might like to know, sir,’ he added, ‘that Your Grace is reserved for dukes and archbishops.'”

—Billy Graham in his autobiography, Just As I Am

And now, a simple serenade from Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea: