Bible news: ‘Jesus was FUNNY and actively OFFENDED religious hypocrites’ claims new book
When modern people think of the Christian church or Jesus Christ meek and mild, perhaps funny isn’t the first word to pop into their heads – while serious or dull might be better contenders. Nevertheless, a new book called The Sacred Art of Joking, which examines why jokes often go wrong and are considered offensive, argues that Jesus was funny and used offensive humour to mock religious authorities. The author, comedy writer James Cary – who has penned sitcoms like BBC’s Miranda and Bluestone 42 – highlights instances in the Bible of Jesus highlighting hypocrisy by using imagery that wouldn’t look out of place in a Warner Bros cartoon.
For example in Matthew Chapter 7, Jesus talks about those who see faults in others as seeing a speck in their brother’s eye.
Cary argues he uses comic exaggeration here when saying: “How can you say to your brother, ‘let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in you own eye?”
The author notes: “It’s funny to think of someone with a huge log in their eye stopping someone else to patiently explain to them that there’s a piece of sawdust in their eye.”
He also points out Jesus using creative insults to mock the pompous religious authorities, calling the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” and “white-washed tombs.”
Cary even goes as far as claiming that it was highly offended religious people who were the ones to subject Jesus to torture and death.
Cary writes: “It wasn’t so-called “sinners” who demanded his blood. It was the upright and respectable. They are very easily offended.
“They do not shrug it off. They don’t roll their eyes and wander away. They demand vengeance. It’s not pretty.”
Perhaps there’s something of a modern comparison in comedians today being shut down for controversial jokes that some people take offence to?
Earlier in the book Cary considers a number of recent cases like Count Dankula being fined for getting his dog to do a Nazi salute – a conviction Ricky Gervais slammed on freedom of speech grounds, berating the fact that a form of humour considered “grossly offensive” by some is worthy of criminalisation.
The author also sympathises with stand-ups like Chris Rock, who have banned phones from their gigs.
Cary writes he would be worried about audiences capturing a joke out of context that is then immediately uploaded to the internet and sees a Twitter storm – something that happened just a few weeks ago to Louis CK, with comedians like Jonathan Pie coming to his defence over the jokes in the question.
Whatever one’s opinion, much of comedy – especially in late night stand-up routines – is about pushing boundaries. And for Cary it’s not the actual words of the joke that tell you if its offensive or in good taste, but entirely the context its told in.
The Sacred Art of Joking: Or Why Jokes So Often Go Horribly Wrong is out now.
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