Bits and Bobs

Starting a comedy club – why humour communicates

GUEST BLOG POSTING from a Christian editor and journalist who also runs a comedy club in his town…

I blame Bob Monkhouse. I trace my huge enjoyment of comedy, and attempts to make others laugh, largely back to his Mad Mad Movies TV programme.


Image credit: Jupiter Images

All he really did was show clips of old slapstick – Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, The Keystone Cops and the rest. And I was hooked at the age of about seven or eight.

Do Not Adjust Your Set, the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, The Goons, Tony Hancock, the classic films of The Marx Brothers, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore and on through Monty Python, Fawlty Towers etc. to today’s sketch shows and stand-up comedians.

You see, I believe God hard-wired something into all of us that helps us see the funny side of things. And it doesn’t just help us keep life in perspective – laughter is actually good for us. It releases all sorts of endorphins around our bodies, lessens tension and stress and helps us relax. And the best comedy can be tremendously life-affirming, positive and joyful.

So when, more than 15 years ago, my boss on the evening paper where I was working suggested I go and do an article on “this new comedy club thing” – and as part of it have a go at the open mic spot – I didn’t need persuading.

It was very scary, it was over quickly, and I think somebody laughed at one point. But it was great fun. For some years I threw myself into writing in my spare time, with a little modest success – some paid-for work for comedians like Joe Pasquale and Adrian Walsh, a line used here or there on BBC Radio 4′s News Huddlines, and writing material for comedy agent Brad Ashton.

“I never thought I’d run a comedy club”

But I never thought I’d be organising and running a comedy club – let alone launching our town’s first ever Comedy Festival. The former saw the light of day after a one-off gig with stand-up and actress Jo Enright back in November 2008 – demand soon saw an isolated event become a quarterly regular.

Why? Several reasons really:

  1. Comedy is a life-enhancer – we have a family-friendly ethos at our club, so the material and humor is suitable for any age from around 12/13 upwards. Enabling people to enjoy a good laugh together with all ages is a really positive thing – especially when the audience is a good mix of Christians and those outside the church community
  2. God loves laughter – I really believe that. He created the duck-billed platypus! The Old Testament prophets used drama and satire to deflate the pomposity of those who misused their authority and abused the weak and vulnerable. Jesus himself told stories with a surreal edge (a man with a plank in his eye?!), spent time with those on the fringes (publicans, sinners and Samaritan women), and loved a good wedding party (see Cana). It’s great for people to see that a church-run club can happily dispense with the idea that Christians are anti-fun and don’t have a sense of humor.
  3. Comedy disarms people and makes people think – many of the acts we book are Christians. Their faith may not be explicit in their material, but they bring a joy and a quality to their entertainment that is hard to disguise. It’s also true that when people laugh, their defenses come down – and positive concepts and intriguing questions can be smuggled into the heart.

Our comedy is very wide-ranging, from jokes to observational storytelling, one-liners to the surreal. We’ve had comedy magic, performance poetry, and silly songs. There’s endless variety.

And it’s great using a non-church venue for this kind of event – there’s a bar for people to buy a drink at our regular venue, and people instantly feel comfortable and at ease. That’s often not the case when people come into a church building, with a whole host of baggage and expectations attached.

It’s easy for people to invite friends, neighbors and family members, and an evening of comedy is a relaxed, non-threatening occasion. It’s perfect for chatting in between acts, and building friendships.

So please …

  • consider how you or your church could use humor as a bridge-building tool
  • pray for Christians in comedy – for good audiences, for the joy of shared laughter, for something of the divine twinkle of God to be seen, heard and sensed
  • pray also for those who can write positive, entertaining, life-affirming comedy

Finally, to quote Mr Monkhouse: “They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they’re not laughing now …”

Read more: Internet Evangelism Day

Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

This video tells the story of the iconic poster. Thank you Denny Burk for bringing it to my attention.  It reminds me of something that I have been learning recently.

How wonderful to know that we can experience the deep calm that comes through trusting implicitly in God, whatever our circumstances.

Who can tell how many stars there are?

NASA, ESA, and Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration


Fox News has said:

A study suggests the universe could have triple the number of stars scientists previously calculated. For those of you counting at home, the new estimate is 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That’s 300 sextillion.

The recalculation is because scientists had assumed that all galaxies were shaped the same – like our Milky Way. Now they realize that some are different and have more stars, so out came the calculators and slide rules – well, computers I guess! Of course, it is all theoretical right now. This field of study is certainly very exciting.

So, how many stars are there in all? Who knows – except the Creator who put them there?

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
      The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
      night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
      their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
      and their words to all the world.

(Psalm 19:1-4)

Free email updates for this siteAfter all the fiddling and, as we say in Scotland, fouterin’ , I have managed to organize an email subscriber via the  RSS feed in Google Feedburner.

If that is gobble-de-gook to you, that that is exactly how I felt a wee while ago. But, thankfully, there are folk out in the blogosphere who know what is what, and are only too happy to help. (My thanks go to Ray Ortega a.k.a. @podcasthelper on Twitter. I also listen to his podcast, so felt I could ask for help, knowing he would respond.)

I’ll maybe post in the future about RSS feeds (sound geeky but is a real convenience if you read a lot of blogs), but for now, the main thing is that if you prefer, instead of having to remember to pop back here to Slices of my Life to check if there is another post, you can subscribe for free and get the articles sent to you by email.

All this is done through a third party, Feedburner. Your details won’t be passed on to anyone else.

Be Thankful stitched

 “If you learn to appreciate more of what you already have, you’ll find yourself  having more to appreciate.” – Michael Angier

 “Thankfulness and Joyfulness are closely related to each other… ” – Ron Edmondson (

Today, being Thanksgiving in the USA, has made many bloggers consider what they are thankful for.

I’m going to try to be thankful and appreciative every day. Thankful to others, and thankful most of all to God. For in every day, in many ways, the evidence of his love and care are seen – if we look.

One day I was  interrupted before my flat-mate and I left  home on a car journey. It was frustrating, as time was of the essence. But a little while later we came upon and accident that had happened not long before. Had we left on time, that could have been our car crushed by the lorry.

Another time I lost my bank card. I knew it was in the flat, but could I find it? You’ve guessed! It took me hours of sifting through papers, waste bins, laundry and all the rest. I was into cupboards and corners that hadn’t seen the light of day for months (you try anything, however improbable, don’t you?)! Eventually I found the card, but in the search I also came across some very important papers that needed attention and which I had totally forgotten about!

Sometimes it is in the awkward frustrations and downright problems of life that, if we look, we can see the care of God for us. And if it is not immediately obvious where the good is in it all, we can still trust. Because one thing I know, our loving heavenly Father will always be there. He cares about not only the major life-changing things, but about the minutiae of our practical lives. We have a God who cares – and isn’t that something to be thankful about?

Follow Me

SLICES OF MY LIFE are little slivers of my experiences. I have many interests and this blog is my way of keeping track of what I see and learn. Some of it brings a smile to my face, uplifts and encourages me, or makes me think deeply. I hope you enjoy what you read here as much as I enjoy writing it!