Did you hear the one about the priest who’s a standup comic?


The Rev. Britto Berchmans’ upcoming one-man show, “Centennial Chuckles,” is no joke, but the pastor of Park Ridge’s St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church hopes his comedy act produces plenty of laughs.

“For too long people have thought church is kind of heavy and boring,” Berchmans said. “No, church is wonderful, and my theory is, if you do not laugh in the Father’s house, where will you laugh?”

Berchmans will be encouraging his flock to look at the lighter side of life and religion at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 in St. Paul’s Morello Parish Life Center. “Centennial Chuckles: An Evening of Humor,” is a fundraiser to help support some of St. Paul’s 100th anniversary celebrations that have been taking place during the past year.

This will be the second time Berchmans is presenting a stand-up-comedy act at St. Paul.

“We did something similar last year. It was a fundraiser for the school and it was a great success,” he said.

Regular parishioners of St. Paul are already familiar with Berchmans’ comedy style — he is known for dropping short jokes or amusing anecdotes into his homilies to get across the message of the day’s sermon. Many of these tales will be incorporated into his “Centennial Chuckles” act, which he explained will largely consist of comedy in story form, often with a life lesson attached.

The audience can also expect jokes about marriage and relationships, children and growing older — and even about the church itself, Catholic priests and the pope.

“One of my favorite topics is actually relationships between men and women, which always provides a great amount of humor,” Berchmans said.

Laughing, he added: “I always tell people I love to tell jokes about married people because it makes me feel good as a celibate.”

Berchmans’ material is drawn from stories he has heard and collected through the years, and can also be found in the many volumes of joke books that fill his office. Some of his original material is based on humorous things that have happened to him or people he has known. His attempts at speaking Italian while serving in Rome, for example, have generated their share of amusing tales, including the time he accidently told a congregation, “If you are sexy, I am more sexy” instead of remarking, as he’d intended, on how hot everyone was feeling because of the summer weather.

“It always gets a good laugh,” Berchmans said of that particular account.

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