A “CLEAN” Christian-led comedy show that steers clear of expletives, and refrains from causing offence, is to return to the Leicester Comedy Festival, after seven near-sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe.
The Clean (As Possible) Comedy Show was founded in 2008 by the Spanish-born comedian Tony Vino, a worshipper at St Bride’s, Old Trafford, Manchester, who wanted to create a “family friendly” show. All the acts must follow guidelines parallel to those of a 12A-certificate film.
“Clean does not mean bland,” Mr Vino said on Tuesday. “Comedy is comedy, and, in fact, when you strip away offensive material and language, you often find a more refined version of comedy which cannot rely on shock. The idea was not to be preachy, nor to judge other comedy show formats, but rather to offer a refreshing change.”
The show, a mixed bill of Christian and non-Christian comedians, has also appeared at Greenbelt and Spring Harvest festivals. It is due to play at Central Baptist Church in Leicester on 10 February, led by three Christian comedians: Andy Kind, who has previously supported the comedian Tim Vine, is to headline; Mark Palmer is to support; and Rob Thomas is to act as Master of Ceremonies.
Mr Thomas, who worships at Haddon Hall Baptist Church, in south London, said: “As Christian comedians — and there are about 50 of us now — we are trying to underpin our material with a truth that goes beyond the moralistic filters you might find at church.
“Mentioning sex, contraception, Brexit, [President] Trump, politics, is absolutely fine; it is the way that you stretch those topics to the extremes of ludicrousness that makes it funny. We are trying push the boundaries; to be edgy, just as Jesus was edgy. It is about mixing in just enough truth with the humour — like a good sermon — to make it bite, to mean something.”
The show is represented by the Comedy Agency, which was founded in 2012 by Greg Sammons, a member of Trinity Community, a church plant of Holy Trinity Platt, in Greater Manchester.
“We have been taking shows to Leicester Comedy Festival for five years, and decided to reach out to local churches a couple of years back — among them was Central Baptist,” he said. “It is quite a big church, so a full house would be ambitious, but it is good to be ambitious.”
The Clean (As Possible) Comedy Show is at Central Baptist Church, Charles Street, Leicester, next Friday. Tickets £6 (£4 concessions): comedy-festival.co.uk or phone 0116 456 6812.