Yesterday I caught up with a programme anchored by Ann Widdecombe about the increasing hostility of comedians to Christianity. Paul Kerensa, who is coming here in July, took a small part, but probably the best contributor was Marcus Brigstock, not only because of his reasonable combativeness, but for passing on a heavenly version of the famous ‘ Footprints’ story.
Steve Punt made the important point that ‘The Life of Brian’ works best if the viewer knows enough about the bible to get the jokes, whereas many comedians today work in a climate where apart from fundamentalism most religious traditions are a bit of a mystery. I still don’t think such a perspective lets Ricky Gervais off the hook when he appears to assume that his audiences are as ignorant about religion as he is- I can’t see much difference between his mode of tickling the prejudices of his audience and an earlier generation of comedians who are now damned for doing the same in their era. To be fair though he did once make a good joke about the snake in the creation story- some punishment, being made to go on its belly?
As it is Good Friday today and Holy Week is moving towards its climax on Easter morning, I can’t help but feel that anyone who thinks that people should not make jokes about Jesus or aspects of religious doctrine, are suffering from a lack of perspective. Far worse was hurled at Christ in the last week of his life! The jibes of a small wing of the light entertainment industry don’t really amount to much.
And anyhow, how many comedians are actually funnier than MIlton Jones?