What I know about funny

AMS Staff

Sydneyanglicans.net conducted an interview with Joseph Smith, one of the key members of The Four Horsemen of the Apocryphal, the producers of the new comedy podcast, Sydneyanglicans.NOT

Where does the inspiration for your Sydneyanglicans.NOT comedy come from?

Our inspiration for Sydneyanglicans.NOT comes from numerous places.

Firstly, when Jesus taught he sometimes used humour, exaggeration and hyperbole to make a point. Whether it was teaching about judgment by telling people to remove the plank from their own eye before looking at the speck in their brother's eye or about the dangers of wealth by saying it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, it seems Jesus regarded such rhetorical devices as appropriate for making some very serious points.

St Paul uses a similar technique in Galatians 5, telling those who are so keen on circumcision for Gentile believers that he wishes they would go the whole way in practicing their unfounded belief and emasculate themselves. This language is shocking yet humorous and addresses an important issue in church life.

Secondly, satire is a great way to use humour to draw attention to something serious. Recent news satire shows like Newstopia, The Chaser and The Colbert Report are secular examples of satire that are funny but also effective in provoking thought about prejudices and inconsistencies in the media, politics and society that we often take for granted. I think the work of Adrian Plass is a brilliant example of a Christian using humour to draw attention to the idiosyncrasies and foibles in the way Christians live their lives and function as a church.

What are the benefits of this sort of comedy?

While serious reporting and debate are excellent ways to address error or difficult issues, sometimes the use of humour can expose glaring inconsistencies and hypocrisy in a situation that we would otherwise be numbed if it were addressed in a conventional way. 

The best satire will always have a worthy target as its subject matter. When satire leads us to examining a flaw either in ourselves or a commonly accepted mode of practice around us then perhaps we are on the way to initiating a positive change. If it's funny, that's a bonus.

Some people worry that laughing about the church is laughing at God - your thoughts?

I would regard laughing at God as sinful. He is perfect and has never failed to get it right. Humans on the other hand " Christians included " often get it wrong. Sadly, Christians, the people who have the truth, often misuse it, obscure it or fail to sincerely live it. When this happens it is worthy of satire because this behaviour needs correction. If humour can be one way of drawing attention to the need for repentance then I am all for it.

Does God have a sense of humour?

A girl at my church once said she knew God had a sense of humour because he made my face. She laughed, then she apologised ... but I think she meant what she said…

[Awkward pause]

Seriously though, God speaks through a donkey in Judges. That's funny. Also, throughout the Psalms God is recorded as laughing at the folly of humans and their wickedness. It is a saddened laughter at the short sightedness of so much of humanity, to be sure. But is the same kind of laughter that good satire elicits. Satire draws attention to foolish ways we humans mess up and hopefully provokes us to think how we can do better.

Who are The Four Horsemen of the Apocryphal?

I'm a former journalist and currently a theology student (SMBC). I'm privileged to be joined by three close friends " two theology students (MTC) and a freelance journalist. They are all faithful Christians who serve in their churches and sincerely want the wider church to be more like the way God intended. They are all talented writers of comedy and great performers too.

We don't want to hurt any feelings or be destructive to people's ministries. We just want to create humorous satire that lightly prods at some of the idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies of Christians and church life. We hope that this will both amuse Christians but also cause Christians to examine themselves and some of the attitudes and practices we take for granted. If it provokes us to necessary change or reform then that would be brilliant.

Click here to listen to episode one of the Sydneyanglicans.NOT podcast