Monday, April 23, 2007

A hearty chortle


For good or for ill, April in Melbourne means that the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is in full swing. For the past few years, I've tried to catch at least one show. although I've found that it pays to be discerning about who to see. My brother and I went to see one big name international comedian the other weekend, and probably won't go to see him in future. His show went for two hours, and close to half of his routine was an extended diatribe against religion, especially Christianity and Christians. While our faith is important to us, and our beliefs are strongly held, we've never been in your face, overbearing Christians, but have often been mocked and ridiculed for our faith. This was the first time I ever had to pay for the privilege. It was in a large venue, and we sat in the stalls, so the comedian in question didn't hear my sarcastic exclamations of "Bravo" and my slow clapping at his remarks. Most of the audience seemed to laugh and applaud in agreement.

Afterwards, we talked about this. We wondered if there was something in his background to explain his views on spirituality, perhaps a bad past experience of Christians, or a difficult life experience. As an acquaintance of mine said recently, there's a real need for Christians in the arts community. Most comedy festival comedians know each other and socialise after their shows. Going by the number of shows mocking Christianity in this year's festival, it would be great if there could be a mainstream Christian comedian in the festival who, as well as challenging misconceptions about what Christians are like, could reach these comedians with the Gospel.

Another act I saw and enjoyed for the most part was Josh Earl. As well as being a musical comedian, Josh Earl is also a librarian at an inner city primary school. During his hour long show, Josh Earl is a Librarian, he regales the audience with entertaining anecdotes about his work, interwoven with amusing library-themed songs that take the audience through subdivisions of the Dewey Decimal System, including librarianship, relationships, and dentistry. His song, Library Tales, is my new personal anthem. "Sshh, this is a library. no food in here...Two weeks with that...don't forget to bring it back." Who said librarians don't have a sense of humour?

10 comments:

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James Garth said...

I think I just got more of a chortle by reading "leticia's" blog for free than I would have got from paying hard earned cash for an hour of ribald antitheist humour...

Ross McPhee said...

Yes. To read her blog and reply I had to use Babelfish to translate. No hablo espaƱol.

Kitty Cheng said...

I guess people express their views or opinions based on either facts or misconceptions. What you experienced from this 'big name international comedian' is not only a reality in religion, but in big company as well (whether it's based on bad past experiences or actually ignorance). I can say that about the business I am in - many people have bad perception, but because they are not actually in it, ignorance or miscounceptions about it can be a norm (like those who don't know about Christianity and Christians have wrong ideas)! Hence they mock, or decide not to use the products from this company (isn't that similar to people not wanting to go into the 4 walls of our church?).

I guess having a mainstream Christian comedian in the festival might work, but to challenge the misconceptions about what Christians (Christianity)are like, these people who have wrong conceptions need to be open to listen, rather than blindly having judgement on Christians!

Ross McPhee said...

My initial response wasn't very gracious, but afterwards, when my brother and I talked about what we thought of his act, we decided that praying for him was a more productive response.

Lots of celebrities use their profile as a platform to support fashionable causes or to give weight to opinions on different issues, even if these are often ill-informed or inflammatory. Fortunately I'm not as thin-skinned as I used to be.

Kitty Cheng said...

Ross, I must admit that I agree with you that your response wasn't very gracious, and surely praying
for him and leaving him to God would be the best thing to do.

Have you thought about though that these celebrities who use their profile as a platform to support causes or to give weight to opinions on different issues are also made in the image of God, so give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they do that out of a kind heart.

Being thin-skinned is not necessarily wrong, but I guess we all need to grow constantly.

Ross McPhee said...

Kitty, I take your point. This must be Providential, because the other day during my devotional time I was reading from 1st Timothy, where the apostle Paul talks about his former life. He explains how he once persecuted the church, but God showed him mercy because he acted in ignorance and unbelief.

God spoke to me through this passage and rebuked me for my pride. Once again He reminded me that His mercy is available to all, including those who mock and ridicule Him and His people. This also includes comedians who act ignorance and unbelief. It's not my place to decide who is or isn't worthy to receive it. The truth is that none of us are.

Kitty Cheng said...

yes Ross...I agree that none of us are worthy to receive God's grace and mercy. That's why I am soooo thankful that I am His child, without having to earn His love by my own merits.

1st Timothy about the apostle Paul's former life is a great reminder for us to not judge people. Jesus also prayed for the Father to forgive those who put Him on the cross, cos 'they do not know what they are doing!'. Yes we do need to pray for and love those who do not know what they are doing, and act in ignorance and unbelief.

Glen O'Brien said...

An interesting discussion. You might find my review of an act with a religious theme from last year's Comedy Festival of interest. http://glenobrien.blogspot.com/2006/05/son-of-preacher-man_02.html#links

Ross McPhee said...

Glen, maybe I should have gone to see Harley Breen's show instead.