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Show type: Melbourne 2010
Catherine Deveny: God is Bullshit: That's the Good News
Strap yourself in for a death-defying ride through Catherine's spiritual journey from wannabe Catholic altar girl to atheist eye candy.
Includes diversions to the megachurch experience, the cult of the Quakers, taking on Cardinal George Pell in a faceoff and her diagnosis that God has Narcissistic Personality Disorder - even though he doesn't exist.
A big finish. Trust me.
Catherine Deveny: God Is Bullshit, That's The Good News
Newspaper columnist Catherine Deveny’s atheist proclamation doesn’t get off to the best start, describing God as an ‘imaginary friend in the sky who did magic tricks’. That may be true, but it’s also the universal line for the non-believer. Couldn’t she think of anything more distinctive, especially given how common the heathen angle is in comedy these days?
Familiar arguments keep arising during this tract, as do familiar jokes, such as ‘putting the mental in fundamental’, although this professional irritant also manages to find more imaginative lines of attack in what turns out to be an uneven, but still compelling, show.
She has the zeal of a new recruit to atheism, having crossed the floor only three years ago, which means that sometimes in her enthusiasm to communicate all the new-found ideas, she doesn’t quite step back enough to think of the show as a whole.
The certainty of her unbelief is, however, reflected in the confidence of her argument, which is unfailingly delivered with power and passion – even if, ironically, it comes across as a bit preachy. And she’s preaching to the choir, too, as the reaction she gets when she mentions one particular suggests there are an awful lot of lapsed Catholics in the room.
Less consistent than her opinion is her delivery. Too often it comes across as declamatory, though she sometimes eases into the more conversational, and more appealing, manner of the stand-up. Similarly, some of the writing is over-elaborate, making pompous-sounding statements that would read fine in print, but seem forced in the live environment.
Hr arguments, however, are persuasive. How many people who believe they should follow the word have God have actually read the Bible? So it’s all left down to its ‘interpretation’ by priests… and even if you do believe, how arrogant is it to say you know what the supreme being REALLY meant to say? This train of thought is illustrated by some shocking extracts from the ‘Good’ Book, and not the usual ones, either.
She prefers to get her life’s inspiration not from ancient writings, but from more contemporary atheist philosophers, whom she liberally quotes. Though she may want to be wary of following the teaching of Christopher Hitchens to closely… as he has also, famously, postulated that women aren’t funny.
Deveny disproves that premise, as her arguments are, for the most part, gleefully entertaining; though you’re never in any doubt that she’s a writer with a witty, sometimes powerful, turn of phrase than an natural stand-up. What she is, though, is an uncompromising force of nature – as illustrated by the anecdote she tells of putting some Catholic bigwig in his faith by evoking the soul of her aborted child.
For the flaws in the presentation, Deveny is a compelling presence, and the message she conveys is an optimistic rallying-cry for atheists everywhere.
|Date of live review: Sunday 11th Apr, '10|
Review by Steve Bennett
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