36. Comedy Night in Kentish Town part 2.
Usually I have my act sorted word-for-word. It’s totally memorized apart from dealing with hecklers. But last week in Guildford I extemporized a little, dropping some and adding other bits on the hoof. And tonight I’m a lot less prepared in a way simply because I’m planning to do five minutes of audience participation.
And, as an experiment, I don’t tell them that I’m an independent Catholic priest, a heretic, or do very much of the self-deprecating stuff that so many comedians use. Instead I’m quite authoritative – as in ‘I know my Bible, let’s play a game’ kind of way.
Because of the torrential storms and wet, it’s definitely Noah’s Ark time and given that the UKIP Oxford councillor got all over the news for saying the floods were due to the government’s approving gay marriage, I do a session on how many of the Old Testament laws we have all broken, getting the audience to stand up and sit down and working out who’s broken the most laws ... and therefore who is to blame.
Some of the laws are palpably daft in this modern age - hey what am I saying? Most of them are. That doesn't mean they weren't valid then (given some caveats - see below*) but God is quite capable of updating stuff. People seem to think that God would never allow his creation to evolve but that's simply not the case.
They like it – well audiences do love to participate – and they do seem to think it’s funny. I end with the ‘actually it’s all the fault of the vegetarians’ story and get good applause.
But for the first time there is active hostility directed towards me from two of the other comedians during their act and another (a physicist) somewhat pointedly over-disses religion and those who believe in it. So that’s interesting. It doesn’t hurt or deplete me at all and it’s probably because I haven’t quite presented myself as exactly who I am.
However, it does show how atheistic the comedy world is – and there are lots of anti-religion jokes going around. The only trouble with them is that they are ill-informed on the Bible stories (as if anyone but me notices!).
There is definitely a place for spiritual comedy even if it’s only to show that religion is simply the terms and conditions that cover the real heart of the great Love that binds the stars together.
I think that that faith is about seeking out the 70% organic chocolate instead of being content to chomp on the cheap stuff.
If you’ve got any sense, you know that the everyday stuff isn’t really chocolate at all but it gives you a quick ‘hit.’ It’s cheap and it doesn’t need you to think about it. It takes a real effort to get used to the richness and the the lack of cloying sweetness in the quality chocolate. And you can’t eat so much of it at any one time. It’s so much easier just to get a bar from the front of the stack... But once your tastes have changed and you feel the benefits, you don’t really want to go back.
Except for Christmas of course. And that’s a a Cadbury’s Twirl in the middle of the Green and Blacks. Utterly delicious but, once you’ve found the good stuff, not something you know you can deal with every day.
Hmm. I think I could develop that as a joke.
* Re homosexuality and the Old Testament, there is some good evidence (here is one example) that Leviticus 18:22 was a law against male cult temple prostitution - which was highly prevalent. As people were generally married six months after puberty there was very little (if any) loving same-sex relationship stuff going on so the law is not referring to that at all.
Neither are lesbians mentioned - so gay sex between women is fine. Which I can see might be annoying if you're a fundamentalist teenage feminist and want to be an abomination on the same terms as the men...