So a Comedian
Walks Into a Church . . . Confessions of a kneel-down
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THE stand-up comedian Paul Kerensa is often away from home and
in an unfamiliar town on a Saturday night. On Sunday morning, he
needs to find a church, but this Anglican is unusual in
deliberately opting for the church nearest to his budget hotel,
whatever its denomination. In this wittily written book, the author
describes life on the "stand-up and kneel-down circuits".
In a Church of Scotland
sermon, he is surprised to hear a call for wives to obey their
husbands. This is before his fiancée joins him on the road. Maybe
most interesting are his experiences of being a stranger in church.
He feels that after-service coffee has now become part of the
liturgy, although one church offered him a cup on arrival. Another
had a comfort break in the middle of morning worship.
He finds that a thinly
scattered congregation makes shaking hands at the Peace almost
impossible. In one URC church, the youngest members were in their
60s. His worst experience was on a cruise ship, where, on enquiring
about the advertised worship, he was handed a video to watch in his
Some churches are packed
with people dancing in the aisles with their shoes off, and there
he feels self-conscious trying to raise his hands in the air.
Attending a Roman Catholic mass, he suddenly makes the serious
observation that there are good people present who do not deserve
the Church's bad press.
As a Christian who writes
radio and television comedy scripts, besides facing live audiences,
he tells of his need to avoid easy religious jokes, which
colleagues, even on the same bill, have no compunction in
There is a brief explanation
of each denomination he encounters. But by the end of the book Paul
is a married father; and one suspects that he may settle down again
Leigh Hatts is editor
of In SE1, a South Bank arts magazine.