Skip to content


...And so idolatry is not the way back to paradise, and neither is worldly success and neither even is biblical religion. All those ways are ridiculous. Here is the way back to paradise - it's the LORD Jesus Himself.And this is the very deepest irony of the bible - the very deepest irony of the universe. Jesus Himself is the way back to God.

Every other way to God assumes that humanity has to work salvation before a silent, watching, helpless god. And when you think that you tie yourself up in ridiculous knots and the bible laughs at you. But Jesus shockingly shifts our perspective. In Jesus it is God who works salvation before a silent, watching, helpless humanity. This is the ultimate shocking shift of perspective - we don't work our way to Him. He comes to us. It's not about us performing for Him. He performs FOR US. In our place. On our behalf. The LORD lives the life we should live. And then He dies the death we should die.

Jesus so enters into OUR predicament, He even takes on our suffering, our curse, our judgement, our death.

Think about the cross for a second. It is THE most serious thing ever and it is comedic. Thoroughly comedic.

There is Jesus, the Man who claimed to be God, nailed to a piece of wood. The Jewish authorities considered Him a blasphemer. The Romans executed Him as a common criminal. His friends and followers have abandoned Him. Even God His Father has abandoned Him on the cross. All is darkness as this Man in the prime of His life is cut off. And you know what His last words were? "I did it!" "I did it!" You could translate Jesus' last words as "Finished! Paid! Completed! Done!" Jesus' last words, dying a godforsaken death, were "I did it!"

What did He do? How does the cross accomplish anything? Friends, don't you get it? You can't climb into heaven to be with Him - and you only look ridiculous when you try. You don't climb up to heaven. He climbed down to be with you. He came and met us where we are - in the depths of darkness and wickedness and curse. So the LORD who cries out "I did it!" in the depths of our tragedy - He is the LORD who's done EVERYTHING to bring you into His presence. He's gone to hell and back to work your salvation. And He offers it to you right now - IN all your darkness. IN all your ridiculous idolatry, IN all your trying to make a success of yourself, IN all your attempts to be very religious. IN all your laughable stupidity and wilful evil - Jesus says "HERE, I've done it. I'VE done it." Will you stop your striving and receive it? Will you just get it? Don't you get it?

When Jesus rose three days later it was the ultimate shock, the ultimate Custard Pie in the face of humanity's greatest enemy. Death was dethroned. Which means Christians can now taunt death - where's your victory grave, where's your sting death? Jesus death swallowed up death.

It's the ultimate irony. Jesus wins us heaven, by going to hell. He kills death, by dying. He judges evil, by being judged. He gains victory through total surrender. He enters our tragedy - and through the most tragic event of all, brings a comedy. Isn't that ironic?! It's the deepest of all ironies. But when you get it, you'll have a shocking shift in perception. You'll see Jesus differently, yourself differently, life, death and eternity differently. It will be the most happy realization. It's what Christians call "faith", but really it just means getting the joke. Getting this central joke that unlocks all reality - How can Jesus the LORD die but in doing so shout out "I did it!"?

Do you get it? Do you get what Jesus did? If you don't get it, don't stop pestering every Christian you know until you get it. Don't stop coming to church, keep coming. Pick up a bible and read Jesus' life stories, pray that God would help you to get it. Because when you do, you'll rejoice, the angels in heaven will rejoice - there will be laughter all round when you get it.

If you don't get it - every laugh you'll ever have will ultimately be hollow.

You know my big problem with "The Life of Brian". It's not that it satirizes Christians - Jesus was a lot harsher to the religious of His own day. It's not even that it satirizes the Christian story - I don't expect non-Christians to reverence what we reverence. Here's my problem with "The Life of Brian" - the ending.

You see it's actually not a comedy - not in the classical sense. Actually, technically, the film is a tragedy. It ends with the hero crucified and there's no triumph, there's no "I did it!" - there's only failure and death in the end. And all they can do is whistle a wry little ditty as they choke to death on the cross. "Life is quite absurd and death's the final word." Now it's a fine film. A funny film. But in the end it's gallows humour. In the end, it's just a tragedy. The problem with the Life of Brian is not that it is a comedy. The problem is it's not a comedy. Without the victory of Jesus, without the resurrection of Jesus, the Life of Brian is just one more tragedy sprinkled with gallows humour. And if you don't get the Good News of Jesus, you may laugh, you may laugh loud - but you won't laugh long. If death's the final word then all your humour will be gallows humour. Only Christ can give you true comedy, joyful comedy, lasting comedy.
Comedy is serious. Christianity is comedic.



As I close let me highlight three ways the bible says we try to get back to paradise, all of which the bible ridicules.

First is we redefine God. It happened as soon as Adam and Eve disbelieved the LORD. The devil said ‘Are you really going to let the LORD be God?' And we constantly say no, and so we start to construct our own gods. The bible calls this idolatry and in many cultures it has meant literally chopping down a piece of wood and carving an idol. But we do it ourselves every day. If you've ever said "I like to think of god like this..." You've carved your own idol. If you've ever said "I'm not sure about this Jesus stuff, I think what's really important is..." You've carved your own idol. If you've ever thought "I know what the bible says, but this is really what I'm living for..." you've carved your own idol. And you worship and serve that thing. And it has the power of life or death over you. Because when that thing comes through it'll feel like life, when it fails, it'll feel like death. You've got your own god, your own heaven, your own hell. And the bible is constantly ridiculing this do-it-yourself way of life.

There's a hilarious passage in Isaiah 44 where the prophet is ridiculing idol makers who cut down a piece of wood and have the tremendous insight required to discern which end of the tree trunk is best for firewood and which is best to be worshipped as a deity. This bit - firewood. This bit - mt lord, my god, my all in all. How arbitrary! But that's how ridiculous it is to reject the living God and to live for anything else.

Or in 1 Kings 18 there is a wonderful passage where the prophet Elijah goes head to head with the prophets of the false god - Baal. Elijah says, you set up a sacrifice to your god, I'll set up a sacrifice to the LORD - the God who sends fire down on the sacrifice - He is really God.

26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. "O Baal, answer us!" they shouted. But there was no response; no-one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or travelling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no-one answered, no-one paid attention.

Isn't that tragic? Isn't it comic? You see Comedy is serious. And Christianity is comedic. But this is so common in the bible. People are always living for things that are not god. And we dance and we shout and we cut ourselves and we bleed for these things hoping they'll deliver - but there's no-one there. Baal's not there for you. All human religion has busy people working for a helpless god. It's tragic and it's comic. But Comedy is serious and Christianity is comedic.

So idolatry - re-defining God - is one response humanity has to being cast from the LORD's presence. A second, very much related, response is seeking to get out and make it in the world. Make the most of now. Be a success.

Jesus met a guy like this. The Gospels call him a rich young ruler. He was wealthy, he was powerful. By his own admission he was upright and moral. He was a success in the world and everyone present thought that this man was on the fast-track to eternal life. If anyone could earn entrance to the kingdom, this guy had it in the bag. He races up to Jesus to ask whether he's done enough to merit paradise. In response to this man Jesus utters some very famous and very funny words. He says "It'd be easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven." That is a seriously shocking thing to say. Everyone thought this successful rich, upright man was on heaven's A-list. Jesus says "That guy will be in heaven the day you get a camel through the eye of a needle." Jesus goes on to say - it's impossible. It is humanly impossible for any human being to be rich enough, successful enough, popular enough, upright enough to get into heaven. It's just that Jesus chose to say it in a funny way. Camel through the eye of a needle is ridiculous. Even if you grease the camel and push. Even with a blender - this is impossible. Jesus uses some serious comedy here because Christianity is serious.

The third way humanity tries to get back into the LORD's presence is of course religion. And you might think, well this is the right answer surely. Don't make up false gods, don't rely on wealth or success to get you in - but be religious. Join the right religious group - upright, biblical religion - follow the rules and work your way back into God's good books. Right? Wrong. And this might shock you but the bible ridicules the religious more than any other group. More than the idolaters, more than the worldly people - it ridicules bible-based, moral-looking religious types.

We often think that when comedians mock Christians they're being godless. I think often when comedians mock Christians they're being Christ-like. Jesus went after the bible-based, moral looking religious types more than any other group. There was a religious group in Jesus' day called the Pharisees. And Jesus went after them with unrelenting and devastating satire. And the people in Jesus' day were shocked.

-- Don't the Pharisees radiate purity Jesus?
-- Oh yeah - they dazzle like a white-washed tomb" Said Jesus, "Brilliant on the outside - rotting death on the inside."

Talk about corruscating wit!

Jesus never stopped ridiculing the religious types of His day. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, the most sustained teaching that we have from Jesus in the bible, Jesus constantly refers to these hypocrites. He doesn't just tell His people the way of the kingdom, He engages in savage observational comedy about the hypocrites. When He speaks of how we should give He says: "Don't be like the hypocrites, they commission a trumpet fanfare [ta da!] "I'm giving." And when you pray, don't be like the hypocrites. They love to stand on street corners, so they get two lots of people to see them saying "I'm praying!" And when you fast, don't be like the hypocrites. They actually disfigure their faces. They walk around looking like they're sucking chilli off a thistle so people say ‘what's wrong'? "I'm fasting!" Jesus ridicules the religious.

He notices how judgemental they are. He says they're always pointing out the speck in other people's eyes - all the while they've got a tree trunk lodged in their own. That is a funny image. But it taps into the hypocrisy we all have. We all like pointing out the faults of others. We all feel better about ourselves by judging others - we all get a sense of moral high-ground by taking others down a peg or two. As George Carlin said - when you're driving, everyone who's slower than you is an idiot, everyone faster than you is a maniac. We're constantly justifying ourselves - pointing out the specks in other people's eyes. Jesus says You've got a plank of four by two protruding from your eye socket. Stop judging others to justify yourself. In fact - just stop justifying yourself. It's hypocrisy.

Because do you notice how similar the religious are to the idolaters? The idolaters were very busy working for a passive, silent, helpless god. Actually the bible guys were doing the same. They became very busy, very melodramatic supposedly working for the LORD - but actually their whole way of life was assuming that the LORD is a passive, silent, helpless god who needs us to perform.

Jesus came into the world to tell us He's not like that. He's the LORD who works salvation FOR US.

And so idolatry is not the way back to paradise, and neither is worldly success and neither even is biblical religion - all those ways are ridiculous. Here is the way back to paradise - it's the LORD Jesus Himself.

And this is the very deepest irony of the bible - the very deepest irony of the universe. Jesus Himself is the way back to God...


Final installment here.


Here's my central contention:

Comedy is serious. And Christianity is comedic.

Now maybe that's a shocking shift in perception for you - in some ways I hope it is. But that's my contention: Comedy is serious. And Christianity is comedic. The bible is comedic. The Christian message is comedic:

I mean that in two senses.

In the classical sense the bible is a comedy. It is a comedy as opposed to a tragedy. In the classical use of the word, comedy refers to a certain genre of story in which people or cultures struggle and collide and through that struggle and collision you have a eu-catastrophe - a good catastrophe. A clash that resolves into a happy ending.

A modern example of the classic comedy genre would be the movie Shrek. Even if you haven't seen the film you'll recognize the happy ending - basically the good guys win, the bad guys gets their just deserts, there's a wedding and you finish with a song. That's the age-old recipe for a comedy. And the bible is the archetypal comedy. If you want to read the ultimate comedy ending, read Revelation 19 when you get home. There you see Jesus Christ riding into town on a white horse - the Victor over sin, death and every evil. You see the bad guys, the forces of darkness, the devil and all who follow him cast into the pit. You see the ultimate wedding - the wedding to which all other weddings point: the joyful union between Jesus and His people. And you see singing - the Hallelujah chorus is taken straight out of Revelation 19. Hallelujah. In biblical language even the rocks will cry out and the trees of the field will clap their hands. The whole creation will be released into noisy, joyful praise. The plotline of all history according to the bible is a comedy. Not everyone will get it. Nonetheless the Christian story is a comedy. It's called the Gospel which literally means GOOD NEWS. Christianity is the announcement of Good News - Jesus has triumphed, the bad guys lose, history is heading to praise and joyful relationship - Good News. Christianity is a comedy.

e.g. of Life of Brian - it topped channel 4's poll of the hundred greatest comedy films.  And it's very funny.  I've used clips from the first half of the film in sermons to illustrate many ridiculous truths about Christians.  The film does an excellent job of sending up religious people - not as good a job as Jesus does of sending up religious people.  But it's a pretty good effort.  My problem is the ending - it's actually not a comedy, it's a tragedy.  The finale has its hero whistling a wry ditty on the cross.  "Life is quite absurd and death's the final word."  Now it's a fine film.  A funny film.  But in the end it's gallows humour.  In the end, it's just a tragedy.  The problem with the Life of Brian is not that it is a comedy.  The problem is it's not a comedy. Without the resurrection truth of Christianity, the Life of Brian is just one more tragedy sprinkled with gallows humour.  And that's a pretty depressing prospect to be honest.

And Christian faith means hearing the Good News and getting it. Just like you get a joke, you need to get the Good News about Jesus. And faith is what happens when a person understands the Good News as Good News. They have a shocking shift in perceptions and they start to see Jesus in a different light, God in a different light, themselves in a different light, the world, the future, life and death in a different light. It's a shocking shift.

And so, in the bible the call to become a Christian is the word "repent." And literally the word repent means "change of mind". It is this shocking shift that happens when you GET the Good News. And the bible says whenever that happens the angels in heaven rejoice. There's laughter all round when people get the Good News. Christianity is comedic.

So the overall plotline of the bible is comedic. But what I want to do with our remaining time is show you how the bible tells this comedic story in a thoroughly comedic way.

Because some of you will be thinking - alright so laughter's allowed at the end, with the happily ever after. But what about now in our broken world full of death and wickedness. Is comedy really a spiritual, godly thing now? Yes. Absolutely.

We'll begin with the garden of Eden and the story of how all this death and wickedness came about. Christians call this event the Fall and it was the greatest Fall from grace there's ever been. Humanity fell away from God and were cast out of His presence. It was a dreadful event, the worst and most serious in human history. And yet - it is described in richly comedic terms.

Remember comedy is serious - there's no such thing as ‘only joking' and ‘laughing matters' are no less ‘serious matters' for all that. But the biblical story of the Fall is comedic.

You have Adam and Eve - before they disobey the LORD they are naked and feel no shame. Harmony, bliss, openness, beauty, freedom, satisfaction, joy. And Satan slides up to Eve and says "Can you believe the LORD, all these trees and He's forbidden you to eat from any of them!" And Eve says ‘No we can eat from any tree in the world - there's only one tree that's off limits.' The devil says ‘What a kill-joy! Are you really going to let this Miser tell you what to do?'

We hear this temptation from this side of the Fall and so it doesn't seem so ridiculous to us. But really that should seem like the most ridiculous suggestion ever put. Of course we should trust God to tell us what's what. Of course we should let Him set the agenda. Of course we should believe His words - He's the LORD. But we hear this temptation on this side of the Fall. And it's a mark of how deeply the Fall has settled into all our hearts that we understand Adam and Eve's sin. We commit it every day. It's the cry of every sinful human heart. If I were to ask you "Who's got the right to tell you what to do? Who's got the right to tell you what's what?" We naturally reply - No-one! No-one's going to forbid me what I want - not even you LORD. It's ridiculous, but it's exactly what Adam and Eve do. And immediately upon believing a ridiculous truth, they become ridiculous people. As soon as they eat the forbidden fruit they become fearful and ashamed. And they sew fig leaves together to cover their nakedness. An hour ago they had walked around paradise like kings and queens, naked and loving it. Now - fig leaves, sewn together. How the mighty have fallen. But of course the fall of the mighty is rich ground for comedy. And so Genesis tells this tragic story in deeply comedic terms.

The next thing that happens, the LORD God Himself comes to walk with His favourite couple in the cool of the day. And the bible says "They hid from the LORD God among the trees." They HID from the LORD God, behind some trees. It's tragic, but you can laugh, because comedy is also serious. And the LORD confronts Adam. Adam says "This woman you put here made me do it." This is brilliant comedy. Adam manages to blame both the LORD and the woman in a single sentence and we say "How ridiculous" and "How typical". And that's great comedy. Makes you laugh, makes you think. We laugh at him but we also see ourselves in him. Same with Eve. She gives the age old excuse "The devil made me do it." Again - ridiculous and typical. So Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent and then the serpent doesn't have a leg to stand on. (boom, boom).

But here is the worst event in human history and the bible portrays it in thoroughly comedic terms. Comedy is serious. And Christianity is comedic. Because when people become ridiculous it is right to ridicule them.

Which is what the bible does from cover to cover. The bible takes the Fall seriously - which means it sees humanity as the ridiculous bundle of contradictions that we are. We have rejected the LORD who loves us. We're like a drowning cat clawing and scratching its Owner who's only trying to rescue it. We've been estranged from the LORD our Maker and all our efforts to get back to paradise are laughable...


More here and here..

I'm giving an evangelistic talk on the above subject on Thursday.  I have way too much material and I'm toying with tackling it from a totally different angle - but, well.  Here's some stuff that I have at the moment and maybe you can help me.  I'll lay out what I've got in installments and you can tell me what needs to stay on the cutting room floor.  Any suggestions gratefully received...

Analysing comedy is a bit like dissecting a dolphin. Just leave the dolphin alone.  We much prefered just watching the dolphin frolick around.  The guy who steps forward with a scalpel saying "Let's see how it works!" - that guy's sick.  SICK.

Well I'm the sick guy this afternoon.  This is not about being funny, it's about analysing funny - and the saying "we kill to dissect" is never so true as with comedy.  Hope you're not too disappointed.

But what I hope to do this lunchtime is to do what comedy itself does. This talk will be disappointingly unfunny, but I hope my talk does what comedy does. And what does comedy do?

It makes a shocking shift in perception. That's what comedy is - a shocking shift. It shifts our perceptions in a surprising or pointed way.

Now the Joke Proper gives us a short, sharp, shocking shift - that's what puts the punch in a punchline. But in general comedy creates a shocking shift in perception. It re-presents to us familiar people or situations in a subversive, surprising way.

Take for instance this cartoon mocking a well known Christian platitude:

Now there are several ways you could debunk this Christian platitude. You could preach a series of serrmons about how God might actually lead you into terrible suffering and it wouldn't disprove His love. You could write a whole history of martyrdom to challenge the glibness of such bumper-sticker Christianity. Next time you hear the saying you could yell back: "Try telling that to the martyrs, man!"

None of those options would be comedy. And to be honest - none of them would be as effective as this simple cartoon. And this is how comedy works. It provides a shocking shift in perceptions. And in this succinct form it is a short, sharp shocking shift.

Or think again about a recent example of comedy. Imagine that a Danish scholar had written a 15 000 word paper linking the life and teaching of Mohammed to modern terrorism. Would we have heard of this paper? Would the world have erupted around such an academic proposal? No.

But get a Danish cartoonist to draw Mohammed's turban as a bomb and then the world erupts. It is a shocking shift of perception to lay those ideas side by side and invite comparison. It's how comedy works - and it has the power to ignite fear and protest as well as debate and serious thought.

Which means comedy is a serious business. Don't ever think of comedy as simply ‘making light' of the world. 

I mean, think about it.  Has anyone's ever said to you these words: "Come on! I was only joking!"

If someone's said that to you I'll guarantee you had to suppress the urge to stab them in the throat with a biro. Because we all know that there's no such thing as "only joking". When we joke we are using words at their sharpest. And contrary to the popular saying: sticks and stones may break our bones, but words go even deeper. Which makes comedy a very serious business. It is using words at their sharpest.

Now a sharp knife can be used for good or ill. It can cut you a slice of cake - good. It can stab you through the heart - not so good.  The knife itself is not good or bad. But the knife can be used for good or bad. Same with comedy. Comedy itself is a powerful tool. It is using words at their sharpest. But that tool can be used for tremendous good or tremendous evil.

A lot of people have been hurt by sharp words in the past and therefore write off comedy. I think that's a shame. There is a legitimate, joyful and serious use for comedy. Because sometimes words need to cut. Sometimes issues need to be dissected. Sometimes bubbles need to be burst. Sometimes people and institutions need to be cut down to size. Sometimes pride needs to be pricked. Sometimes side issues need to be cut through and the heart of the issue exposed. And comedy is uniquely placed to do that job.

And this is what I mean by saying I want this talk to do what comedy does - comedy shifts our perceptions. And I want to shift our perceptions not only about comedy itself but about Christianity. And here's the shift in perception: Generally we take comedy lightly and think of Christianity as serious, heavy, dull. I hope to show that:

Comedy is serious.  And Christianity is comedic.

 Notes continued here, here and here..

On Thursday I'm going to speak about Comedy and Christianity (see here and here).

The Screwtape Letters is itself a wonderful argument for the positive Christian use of comedy.  In fact I once heard John Cleese read the book on tape - hilarity itself! 

Lewis' book consists of the letters of Screwtape, a senior demon, to his nephew Wormwood.  It's advice on how to really capture a soul for evil. 

Here is letter 12 on humour.  (NB: of course for Screwtape, "our Father" is the devil.  "The Enemy" is God).

Everything is clearly going very well. am specially glad to hear that the two new friends have now made him acquainted with their whole set. All these, as I find from the record office, are thoroughly reliable people; steady, consistent scoffers and worldlings who without any spectacular crimes are progressing quietly and comfortably towards our Father's house. You speak of their being great laughers. I trust this does not mean that you are under the impression that laughter as such is always in our favour. The point is worth some attention.

I divide the causes of human laughter into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy. You will see the first among friends and lovers reunited on the eve of a holiday. Among adults some pretext in the way of Jokes is usually provided, but the facility with which the smallest witticisms produce laughter at such a time shows that they are not the real cause. What that real cause is we do not know. Something like it is expressed in much of that detestable art which the humans call Music, and something like it occurs in Heaven-a meaningless acceleration in the rhythm of celestial experience, quite opaque to us. Laughter of this kind does us no good and should always be discouraged. Besides, the phenomenon is of itself disgusting and a direct insult to the realism, dignity, and austerity of Hell.

Fun is closely related to Joy-a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us. It can sometimes be used, of course, to divert humans from something else which the Enemy would like them to be feeling or doing: but in itself it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.

The Joke Proper, which turns on sudden perception of incongruity, is a much more promising field. I am not thinking primarily of indecent or bawdy humour, which, though much relied upon by second-rate tempters, is often disappointing in its results. The truth is that humans are pretty clearly divided on this matter into two classes. There are some to whom "no passion is as serious as lust" and for whom an indecent story ceases to produce lasciviousness precisely in so far as it becomes funny: there are others in whom laughter and lust are excited at the same moment and by the same things. The first sort joke about sex because it gives rise to many incongruities: the second cultivate incongruities because they afford a pretext for talking about sex. If your man is of the first type, bawdy humour will not help you-I shall never forget the hours which I wasted (hours to me of unbearable tedium) with one of my early patients in bars and smoking-rooms before I learned this rule. Find out which group the patient belongs to-and see that he does not find out.

The real use of Jokes or Humour is in quite a different direction, and it is specially promising among the English who take their "sense of humour" so seriously that a deficiency in this sense is almost the only deficiency at which they feel shame. Humour is for them the all-consoling and (mark this) the all-excusing, grace of life. Hence it is invaluable as a means of destroying shame. If a man simply lets others pay for him, he is "mean"; if he boasts of it in a jocular manner and twits his fellows with having been scored off, he is no longer "mean" but a comical fellow. Mere cowardice is shameful; cowardice boasted of with humorous exaggerations and grotesque gestures can passed off as funny. Cruelty is shameful-unless the cruel man can represent it as a practical joke. A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous, jokes do not help towards a man's damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants to do can be done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a Joke. And this temptation can be almost entirely hidden from your patient by that English seriousness about Humour. Any suggestion that there might be too much of it can be represented to him as "Puritanical" or as betraying a "lack of humour".

But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it,

Your affectionate uncle


This began as a response to Codepoke.  These are just thoughts off the top of my head.  Love to hear the thoughts of others. 

Comedy does not necessarily equal 'deride' or 'make light of'.  Often it does - and perhaps sitcoms and funniest home video shows could be brought in as evidence. 

But even if comedy was simply that, there are many things in this world that need deriding - idols and idolaters for instance (1 Kings 18:27ff; Is 44:15; Gal 5:12).  And many things we can take the wind out of by making light of them - ourselves and our own pomposity for instance. (Jonah 4 springs to mind, as do many descriptions of the disciples.  Perhaps James and John asking for glory right after Jesus speaks of going to the cross - Mark 10:35ff)

Sarcasm can admittedly strike a sour note.  But if the LORD Himself in Job 38-40 isn't an arch example of sarcasm I don't know what is.  And clearly sarcasm has apostolic warrant - out of many Pauline examples perhaps his defence of his apostolic ministry in 2 Corinthians 10-12 is the most sustained piece of irony in the bible (corrections gladly received).  The benefits of sarcasm are many but essentially it functions as a reductio ad absurdum and can be devastatingly effective as such.

But comedy is more than 'making fun of' - it also works by simple shock value.  Now, absolutely, a programme like South Park utilises this aspect in terms of a base shock value.  But it can be used for great good.  It can shock us out of wrong understandings.  E.g. 'You think others have a speck in their eye - you've got a plank of 4 by 2 my friend!'  Or 'You think the rich have an easy road to heaven - it's camels through eye-needles my friend!'  Or 'You think the Pharisees are in and the tax collectors are out - let me tell you a story about two men going up to pray...'  Shock is an absolute theological necessity.  We must be shaken from our 'common sense' and worldly flesh.  Humour provides just this service.

Comedy also works via surprising but pleasing juxtapositions.  Puns are an example of this.  So Jesus says the Pharisees strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.  This is a pun - Camel = gamal, gnat = gamla.  It's also a shocking juxtaposition.  Double comedy.  Good one Jesus.

But perhaps most foundational of all.  Comedy is technically the opposite of tragedy.  It's the moment of eucatastrophe where the hero wins through against the odds.  It's the exultant shout to the defeated enemy 'Where O death is your victory?  Where O death is your sting?' (1 Cor 15:55).  It's saying 'Ner, ner, ner, ner, ner' to the Big Ol' Baddy - and ending the show on a song. 

Apparently in Eastern Orthodox churches (I'll have to confirm this) they have a tradition of telling jokes on Easter Sunday.  You see Easter is the best joke ever pulled.  Satan thought he was killing Jesus, but actually it was the death of Satan.  Hoisted on his own petard.  The shock!  The irony!  The pleasing juxtaposition!  The triumphant jubilation!

Christians ought to laugh.  Loud!


You thought the Busey Builder was disturbing.  What about this?


I fear that anyone who comes expecting either Reverend Horse-Teeth or actual comedy will be sorely disappointed. 

Nonetheless, the date and the title is set.  It's an evangelistic gig.  The big question is - what on earth should I say?

Help gratefully received.



Twitter widget by Rimon Habib - BuddyPress Expert Developer