From Peter Hardy, Chaplaincy Assistant:
In our culture, comedy does not have as high a status as other art forms. Compared with the gallery and the theatre, a comedy show is seen as something common, and perhaps even unclean. But I see it as every bit as cultured as a Tchaikovsky symphony or a Puccini opera. And in many cultures, such as the ancient Greeks and the Native Americans this was the norm. It is also often noted that the Jewish dialect of Yiddish has developed to be highly comedic, perhaps as a mechinism to cope with the hardships faced by the Jewish people. Indeed, as Jewish comedian Josh Howie says, he has gone into the industry of breaking down negative stereotypes of his people because there is a lot of money in it.
Many people deride the adult language (ironically calling it ‘childish’) or are offended by having their faith poked-fun at- particularly with the popularity of such anti-religious humourists as Tim Minchin and Reading’s homegrown Ricky Gervais. The novelist Yann Martel has pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in this latter stance:
“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging… and they think, ‘business as usual.’ But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words.” [The Life of Pi, (2003), p. 70]
The comedian Tim Vine has also pointed out that God created comedy (or at least a universe with a strong potential for humorous exploration) and therefore it is a good thing that He wants us to enjoy. And as Voltaire taught the world, religion has in principle nothing to fear from comedy but instead much to learn when it discloses situations which are indefensible. That God can take a joke is not merely a speculative wish- it is something that has long been enshrined within our scriptural tradition, for those who had ears to hear it.