Where does the spark of comedy come from? For late night show host Stephen Colbert a sign on his computer reminds him.
“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.”
A sign at the convent where my wife goes to her lay Carmelite meetings reads something like this…
“Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God in the midst of suffering.”
On September 11, 1974, when Colbert was ten years old, his father and his two brothers nearest in age, Peter and Paul, died in the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 212 while it was attempting to land in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can imagine how this might affect a 10-year-old. For awhile Stephen seemed to lose his faith. That is until one cold night when he was 22. In an interview with Fr. James Martin, Stephen tells us….
“I had lost my faith in God, to my great grief,” he explained. “I was sort of convinced that I had been wrong all this time that I had been taught something that wasn’t true.”
“I was walking down the street and someone handed me a little green New Testament, Proverbs, and Psalms. It must have been humid and brought up to the cold because it was frozen and you kinda had to snap it. It was a really cold Chicago day.
“I opened it up to a little glossary in the front and it said basically verses to read based upon [different situations]. So I went to ‘anxiety’ and it was Matthew chapter 5, it was the sermon ‘So I say to you do not worry, for who among you by worrying can change a single hair on your head or add a cubit to the span of his life?’ and I was absolutely, immediately lightened.
“For the first time I understood the real meaning of the phrase, ‘It spoke to me.’ Like it read off the page. The words of Christ read off the page with no effort. So I stood on the street in the cold and read the sermon. And my life has never been the same.
“This gift of religion is something that can only be given in this way … And therefore you should be humble in accepting this act of love and see what it is they gave you without rejecting it.”
–J-P Mauro, Stephen Colbert talks about why he returned to Catholicism (November 20,2018) Aleteia
His comedy comes from the Joy of God. God comes to us in our sufferings. Stephen’s sufferings come from a dark place in his life. A cross turned into a resurrection. And that is one of the reasons for comedy and what it is all about, turning serious tragedies into reasons of therapeutic hilarity.
“But if we’re just concentrating on the poor, helping the poor, that leaves the rich out — guys like me! … We need more help. The poor shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. A camel can get through the eye of a needle more than a rich man can get into heaven. I need help more than a poor person does.”
While some comedic men and women tend to bash faith as a means to be funny, Colbert uses being funny as a way to present Catholic faith. Here he is taking a playful jab at my former place of work at CatholicTV.
Another comedian who wears his catholicism on his sleeves is Jim Gaffigan. The popular stand-up comedian is usually clean and talks about his home life with his wife Jeannie Gaffigan and their five kids which was fictionalized on the Jim Gaffigan Show July 15, 2015 –
August 21, 2016 with 23 episodes. Here below he talks about being the opening act for the pope when he came to Philly back in 2015 at the world meeting of families. Catholics singers Marie Miller and Matt Maher were also there along with outspoken Catholic actor and former rapper, Marky Mark Wahlberg. Click here for his best Catholic jokes...
“The nerds are rich and successful, and those jocks are dumb divorced guys with beer bellies. By the way, in high school, I also played football and, yes, I have a beer belly. Jeannie can’t divorce me. We are Catholic. Thank you, Jesus.”
― Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat
While Jim and Colbert are Catholic they play more in the secular world then the Catholic world. But a Catholic comedian who you’ll more likely find performing at a church event is Judy McDonald. She has appeared on the Dennis Miller show and opened for Paula Poundstone, Mark Curry, Caroline Rhea, Mitch Hedberg and Margaret Cho. She has performed at the Hollywood Comedy Store and is a regular at the best of San Diego at the La Jolla Comedy Store. She is a breast cancer survivor, so she knows about suffering and overcoming strife. The joy in her comedy is very evident. Here is an example of how she can distribute the laughs. You can purchase her CD or MP3 here.
I enjoy running.
I also enjoy tax audits, going to the all night dentist and being beaten with a sock full of nickels by clowns.
Judymcdonald @judymcdonald (Feb 22, 2020)
If you want new and funny Catholic comedic content join Kaiser Johnson – “Kai” and Libby Slater – “Libby” at Catholic Central.
“Catholic Central” offers entertaining and authoritative answers to your questions about Catholic thought, spirituality and practice. To do that, we’ve assembled a team of witty writers, appealing hosts and learned theologians to produce a collection of videos that entertain, enlighten and inspire. Catholic Central is a project of Family Theater Productions based on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
–Official Web Description
Actress Patricia Heaton is known for her starring role as Debra Barone in the CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005) and as Frances “Frankie” Heck on the ABC sitcom The Middle (2009–2018). From 2019–2020, Heaton starred as Dr. Carol Kenney in the short-lived CBS sitcom Carol’s Second Act. She is also known as very devout Catholic who often talks about pro-life issues.
“I find it impossible to subscribe to a philosophy that believes that the destruction of human life is a legitimate solution to a problem that is mostly social, economic and psychological. In reality, most women ‘choose’ abortion because they believe they have no other choice.”
Who is more Catholic Patricia Heaton or Stephen Colbert? Watch below to find out.
David Allen (July 6, 1936 – March 10, 2005), was an Irish observational comedian and satirist. He was raised Catholic but became a religious skeptic. According to Allen, “what you might call a practising atheist”, and often joked, “I’m an atheist, thank God”. This was a result of his deeply held objections to the rigidity of his strict Catholic schooling. It’s sad he left his faith, but the faith still didn’t fully leave him. Here he is talking about his rigid Catholic upbringing which is hilariously true and perhaps faithful Catholics can relate. May his soul rest in peace and may he have found God before he had to meet Him.
Comedy is not always spoken with jokes, sometimes it is sung in song. Catholic’s very own version of Weird Al is youth minister and Catholic parody songwriter Nick Alexander. A talented and funny man of God.
On Saturday, I prayed in an adoration chapel. Then I led the music in a charismatic men’s group. Then I went to a two hour Latin Mass. Before lunch
Nick Alexander @NickAlexCath (Dec 10, 2018)
Another person who sings and does youth ministry is Chris Padget. He actually came to my parish at St. Georges in Framingham MA one year to talk to the kids. His use of humor and overall silliness makes him a fun and funny guy to listen to. He uses his humor to teach about the serious and joyful love of God.
As the zombie apocalypse takes place all vegans will realize that lifestyle was a cute convenience.
chrismpadgett@chrismpadgett (Mar 24, 2020)
As a teen, Renée Shumay had the idea of making a website featuring Catholic teen and young adult vloggers from around the world. After creating the New Catholic Generation website in 2012, she began collaborating with fellow Catholic vloggers at Franciscan University. Through the collective effort from NCG members both in Steubenville and around the United States, the New Catholic Generation YouTube channel became what it is today!- Youtube Description
Years ago Christin Jezak was a youth speaker at some conference I went to which I believe had Jessie Romero as a speaker. Christin has a one woman show that she does Person-to-Person: A Mother Teresa Project. I’ve meet her on several occasions and is a very deep and committed Catholic and a very funny person. Here is one of her comedy sketches.
Catholic comedy is not regulated to just stand-up, comedy sketches and parody. It can spring from a full-blown musical.
Nunsense (1985) is a musical comedy with a book, music, and lyrics by Dan Goggin. Originating as a line of greeting cards, Goggin expanded the concept into a cabaret show that ran for 38 weeks, and eventually into a full-length musical. The original Off-Broadway production opened December 12, 1985, running for 3,672 performances and becoming the second-longest-running Off-Broadway show in history. The show has since been adapted for television, starring Rue McClanahan, and has spawned six sequels and three spin-offs.
Nuns continue to get laughs in Late Nite Catechism (1993) which is a solo comedy play about a fictional Catholic nun, written by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan. The show itself is a form of participatory theatre where the actress playing the nun is the only person on stage, and members of the audience become members of the nun’s school class. Here is an example of what you can learn and laugh at when you go to sister’s class.
One of the best comedy sketch groups on the internet are the very funny and clean-cut Mormons from Studio C. While Saturday Night Live is not something you can share with your whole family, Studio C is. While Mormons they did their homework and got it right regarding Catholics and the sacrament of confession and here is the rather funny result as only Studio C could deliver.
While not a comedian Fr. Casey Cole uses a good amount of humor in his online videos where he instructs others about the faith. I was thinking about highlighting this video of his Eight Hilarious Religious Jokes or maybe 10 Hilarious Catholic Jokes. But I’ve been looking for an excuse to post this video of Fr. Cole’s funeral experience.
When I met the Pope last week, I said (in Italian): “I pray for you all the time.”
To which he replied “For me or against me?”
I had to lean in closer to understand if I heard him correctly. And then I busted out laughing.
Was still laughing when he gave me a rosary.
Lino Rulli @linorulli (Nov 22, 2019)
I couldn’t have an article about Catholic comedy and not include Lino Rulli who brings his comedy to Catholics on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel’s Catholic Guy show. I end here with Lino with a peek into his radio show when he was on the road in Chicago.