THE third series of Rev has given the nation an
opportunity to laugh at them for three weeks now, but members of
the clergy in London turned the tables on Tuesday, by spending a
day learning how to crack jokes.
Fifteen of them took part in a one-day workshop run by the
stand-up comedian Bentley Browning, as part of their continuing
ministerial development. The day concluded with each participant
performing a three-minute set in "simulated gig conditions".
Mr Browning was impressed by the standard on show.
"They all did a fantastic gig," he said on Wednesday. "They took
it really seriously, and that blew me away. They are all public
speakers anyway, so not like the normal people I teach. They were
really on fire about getting down to it."
The workshop, based on a "taster" session that Mr Browning runs
for would-be comedians, at the Festival Hall, involves learning
techniques and theory, including his conviction that "the truth is
the funniest comedy technique."
There were, he said, plenty of in-jokes about life in
"It was basically billed as comedy for confidence - leaving your
comfort zone," he said. "Quite a lot said that they would like to
use humour, but I don't think they had used it on this level
before. . . People in congregations watch comedy a lot; it's a
language they use, and if you can drop in the odd comment, you are
going to hit your congregation more, and start relating to people
you've not related to before."
Although he is convinced that "you can tell unfunny people how
to say funny things," Mr Browning believes that thisis not always
necesssary with clergy.
The son of Canon John Browning, a retired priest in Sheffield,
he grew up "with priests coming round all the time and I met a lot
that were very, very funny. The majority were funny yesterday."
Reports are awaited from test audiences in London parishes on