The Christian funnyman spent 2013 touring churches with his show, 'So A Comedian Walks Into A Church'. Now he’s making a name for himself as an author.
As a comedian, how do your faith and your work interact?
Like any comedian, I base my act on personal conscience, with the added element of what I think is God’s will. Some people wrongly view this as watering down comedy – the fact that I’m broadly a clean act is sometimes viewed as if there are places I won’t go as a comedian, and that that’s somehow rare and wrong.
The truth is that all comedians have places they won’t go. Even the most profane, most deliberately offensive comedians have things they won’t say: they won’t tell clean jokes. We all have restrictions we put on ourselves, and the fact that mine is that I work with God as my co-writer is doubtless a very good thing.
In the very secular world of comedy, what are the challenges of being a Christian comedian?‘I base my act on personal conscience, with the added element of what I think is God’s will’
The challenges are only there if you see them as challenges. On stage we have freedom to do whatever we want – which can be a problem when we read the room as being heckly and raucous.
Do we bawd up the act a bit? Get sweary, get risqué, get racy? I’ve done that before and afterwards a vicar came up to me saying, ‘We’ve booked you for our church over the road. Do you have two acts you do?’
I must remember that Jesus is in that front row, and be comfortable doing my jokes to him. And if the act before has lambasted religion, I can go on and clear the air, make it fun and friendly again, and maybe even defend Christianity – so long as it’s funny! We can’t be preachy. People just want a laugh, not a lecture.
Were you brought up a Christian?
My parents aren’t Christian but sent me to church, choir, church youth group, Scouts and Pathfinders – as free childcare. When I came back believing the stuff, I don’t think they were expecting that.
Do you normally give up anything for Lent?
I try to give up takeaways. I normally last about a week and then re-evaluate what Lent’s all about, and decide to spend more time praying and being with God – while eating takeaway.
What is your favourite book of the Bible?
It’d be trite of me to say Genesis, simply because I’ve got my book retelling the story of Genesis coming out in March this year. But… Genesis.