Pray it's funny...

Book reveals Kerensa's life as a comic and a Christian

Stand-up Paul Kerensa has written a confessional memoir about how he combines his comedy career with his life as a church-going Christian.

He says he hopes his account of a decade of hopping from church to church while on the road might bridge the divide between practising believers and the largely atheist comedy circuit.

But he admits that the book ‘could alienate both comedians and Christians, it’s a very narrow market I’m aiming for’.

So A Comedian Walks Into A Church: Confessions Of A Kneel-Down Stand-Up will be published by religious publishers Darton Longman and Todd in March. The company already ranks Milton Jones’s 10 Second Sermons as one of its bestselling titles.

Kerensa follows in the footsteps of Frank Skinner, who has previously written of his experience as a touring comic and practising Roman Catholic in his memoir On The Road.

Describing himself as ‘classic Church of England, I want everyone to be happy’, Kerensa attends a low Anglican church in Guildford since his son was born a year ago but maintains a ‘nomadic’ lifestyle on many weekends.

‘Before Google Maps, I’d be staying with a friend in a suburb of Newcastle or wherever, with a gig that Sunday night, and I’d literally just drive around in the morning until I found a building with a cross on top’ he recalls.

‘Sometimes I would strike gold and sometimes it would be a bit… odd’.

Performing and worshipping across the UK, he hopes to convey that ‘comedy or church, there’s a massive variety of both, and I try to keep my horizons nice and broad.

‘Just like on the comedy circuit, there’s so many different styles but a kinship. Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal or Quaker, if we’re not exactly on the same page, I try to understand why not.’

He admits that his vocation occasionally troubles his conscience.

‘Sometimes I’ve overstepped a mark, telling a heckler where to go and so forth, with hundreds of people hearing me say things I’m not particularly proud of. It’s just what you do with hen or stag dos. I come off thinking that I’ve won the night but feeling bad.

‘Equally, I’ve been at gigs and heard other comics’ material that I find offensive and really gets my blood boiling. A lot of the atheism in comedy, I don’t mind at all, it’s got intelligence and wit behind it, that’s great and gets people talking about religion. But when it’s a cheap pot shot, that offends me as a Christian and a comedian. Because they haven’t tried.’

That doesn’t make him unique however.

‘Every comic has their conscience, religious or not. When you stop listening to that you go a little bit “Michael Richards”. If anyone is offended by anything in the book, good luck to them because I haven’t been needlessly offensive about anyone.’

A writer on Miranda Hart’s eponymous BBC One sitcom, Kerensa makes a fleeting cameo in the imminent third series. He reveals that ‘there have been a couple of changes to the cast that will keep things bubbling along.’

- by Jay Richardson

  • Click here to preorder So A Comedian Walks Into A Church from Waterstones, at £8.99.

Published: 30 Nov 2012

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