– & Actors CAMERON POTTS, ANNA NICHOLSON and ANNA NEWCOME try and remember wonders of the world and dwarf names
Here’s my 2nd of 2 festive podcasts – this one on St Nicholas and the folks who made him, well, someone rather special. With 2 live guests + 5 festive historical wonders…
– ROLAND HUSSEY MACY: Mr Macy’s. Well Mr Macy.
Paul’s Yule blog is www.kneeldownstandup.wordpress.com
Paul’s Christmas book is Hark! The Biography of Christmas: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hark-Biography-Christmas-Paul-Kerensa/dp/0745980171
Justin (as Jeremy Lion)’s 12 days of Christmas can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy791huV-Dk (other versions available) (prob not suitable for children)
A break from the Christmas blog – here’s my latest podcast…
– Writer and theological referee JUSTIN BRIERLEY on Derren and Dawkins
– Sorted magazine editor STEVE LEGG on escapology
– QI elf STEVYN COLGAN talks for about 8 minutes about 8 minutes
I’m sometimes asked what’s a typical week for me. There is no such thing. Last week for example, an atypical week…
A charity gig for The Gravel Road Trust. It’s a small and noble cause that does great things, helping people through the toughest times. It’s the brainchild of Nick Battle, recording industry supremo and thoroughly nice chap, so he compered and sang some songs, including a beautiful country-style song: ‘She’s A Better Man Than Me’. Also on hand: Kipper, who records with Sting, and David Grant, from off of Fame Academy and CBeebies’ Popbox. I was the only comedian. So I chose, instead, to sing a song. Cos I like a challenge.
To Leicester, for BBC1’s The Big Questions. It’s Question Time for a Sunday morning religious programming slot. It’s Nicky Campbell with aggressive questioning for nuns. It’s quite a melting-pot: so our show, as well as tackling humour about religion, also threw together some Catholic journalists with some believing there was more to be exposed from the abuse scandal, plus some fervent anti-hunting campaigners were put head-to-head with the man who runs The Hunting Channel. He was incredibly rah, and I think most people fancied letting him loose on a game reserve, while the rest of us stalked him with a spudgun. It was fun. I wasn’t going to do any jokes on it, but comic Jeff Mirza was on and told a few. So I couldn’t be the only comedian not to tell jokes… It probably came across like laughter-hungry comedians, but then that’s us.
I sought a church that evening for a Sunday service, and by chance was flyered on the way on… with a picture of my own face. Turns out I’m doing a gig there in a month’s time. Didn’t even realise. They thought I was a month early. I was confused, they were confused.
Leicester Comedy Festival sits first in the Comedy Festival calendar. Resultantly, whether they know it or not, they generally get comedians’ first attempts at knocking a show together. The shows then develop and go on to other festivals, culminating in Edinburgh in August, before maybe a tour for the lucky few. My show this year was different: I had no plans for it after Leicester. That meant this hour of work-in-progress was in fact work-that-had-entirely-progressed. That said, I’ll put it in the back pocket for a future year. The show went nicely so my Leicester 2014 show may yet live on.
I’m doing a charity gig in the summer for Gatwick Detainees’ Welfare Group: an organisation who visit detainees being held in what’s basically a prison on a parking lot backing onto Gatwick runway. It’s for, in theory, illegal immigrants, which sounds great in the papers, but in reality is anyone ranging from asylum seekers running away from war and torture, to those applying for Visas but whose time ran out before the paperwork could get filed. This was the case for the guy I visited, a beaming twentysomething Nepalese student called Bishal. Charming yet bewildered fellow, he was. He’s behind bars because he paid the wrong lawyer to file his Visa application, and the lawyer ran off with his money instead of filing the paperwork. The Home Office don’t allow leeway though, so the poor lad’s unable to study until the legal process has gone through, which could take… Well, the only difference between real prison and this detention centre is that actual prisoners know roughly how long they’re in for. Some of these detainees at Gatwick have been there for years. Still, looks good in the rightwing papers, doesn’t it Cameron? Spare a thought for them.
Not Going Out returns for its last series, so we’re busy writing and rewriting it over the next few months. This was a day doing just that. My role is relatively little: the script’s written up by the time I get it, just ready for some gags and alternate lines to be thrown at it.
I’m working on a radio sitcom pitch, a TV sitcom pitch, a third book, a fourth book and a fifth book. This was a day spent writing on all five of those, which is why all five are progressing incredibly slowly. Especially since you can add ‘Words With Friends’ to this mix too.
Some days I wake up and I’m a writer. Other days I wake up and I’m a comedian. Today? Both. Proofreading my forthcoming second book by day (a collection of lighthearted retellings of the book of Genesis, available for preorder, of course, on Amazon and elsewhere), and a gig by night. The gig was the first night of a new club near Andover. A few people in, but it was Valentine’s night, so they were all couples, so they all don’t laugh as much as big groups do. A great chance to work with lively master of ceremonies Simon Feilder and a US comic who’s appeared on Letterman and the like, Al Lubel. A scary drive home dodging the UK’s biggest storm for 20 years, reminiscent of scenes from 1995’s Helen Hunt movie Twister, and then home. Ready to start another, probably equally unusual week.
It’s a big day for me and religiocomedy. Today I not only preached to the nation (well, a few truckers) in the coveted 5:45am slot of Radio 2’s Pause For Thought (listen again from 44:30 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r4xxq – I’m after Ladies Night, which is how it should be), but also did similarly in text form via the 40Acts website – http://40acts.org.uk/blog/share-a-good-joke/.
They’re setting 40 challenges each day for Lent: rather than give something up, give something out. So today I’m ‘challenging’ people to share a good joke. May not sound like much of a challenge – it wouldn’t last a full hour of Challenge Anneka where they paint a ceiling or something – but then I’ve heard some people at gigs try jokes on me, and clearly they found it very challenging. “Here’s one for ya… There was a nun, a Muslim and a… no hang on, not a nun – a plumber…”
Both these Christiocomedic serherhermons come one week before my book hits shelves (or shelf): So A Comedian Walks Into A Church. There’s a theme here: comedy and Christianity trying to work together. It’s a very narrow overlap on the Venn diagram, but it’s there – after all, vicar and stand-up comic both are used to performing to people who’ve been dragged along, trying to hold the attention while the microphone breaks, and starting their piece with a couple of dodgy jokes.
So it looks this is the year I ‘come out’ (as a Christian, not as a homosexual – that’ll be years away yet). Not that I’ve ever hidden my faith on the circuit – I just don’t profess it from the mic, cos, well, it’s not that funny. If I find an angle, I’ll do what I can with it, but for now apart from the odd car journey if it comes up (whereupon it’s become a very odd car journey), I’ve kept the church gigs and the circuit gigs pretty much separate.
Non-churchy people: fear not. I’m not about to use the microphone/keyboard to sneak bits of God into stand-up routines/sitcom scripts. I’ll sneak bits of me in, because that’s what all writers do. That’s unavoidable, and necessary, and nice.
…for the next 5 Wednesdays, you can hear me at 5:45am on Radio 2’s Pause For Thought, or more likely, on iPlayer thereafter.
…you can buy my book about church and the comedy circuit, from next Wednesday (or pre-order now: http://www.darton-longman-todd.co.uk/books/9780232529791/So-A-Comedian-Walks-Into-a-Church).
….you can see me on BBC1 during Easter Week chatting to Ann Widdecombe about Christianity and comedy, and where the line is, and if there’s a line at all. Basically you won’t be able to move for me waffling on about gags & God, punchlines & pews, pulpits & bearpits, (Subscribe here http://paulkerensa.com/lists/?p=subscribe&id=1 to my mailing list for details of all this nonsense)
What I’m really saying is, vote Kerensa for Pope. I may not be Catholic but I do like ceilings with nice pictures on. Simply put, I miss Challenge Anneka.