‘So a comedian walks into a church...” So begins Paul Kerensa’s new act, set to arrive at Wesley Memorial and Cowley Road Churches tonight. Kerensa’s stand-up routine is a bit unusual in that he’s not actually planning on making fun of the church — a well-trodden comedy staple these days. In fact, he’s a Christian himself. “I’m quite fond of the church,” says Kerensa. “I think it sometimes needs defending.”

“There’s a bit of an anti-religious sentiment in comedy at the moment and I think that’s causing a lot of church communities to close ranks and batten down the hatches.

“Some comedians like to rant and preach from the stage, because they want to change the world. “That’s fair enough, but I’m just out for a laugh. I’m not out to offend or split opinion.”

Kerensa spends a lot of his time writing scripts for television comedy and his credentials include the hit BBC shows Miranda and Not Going Out. The idea for his new stand-up act came to him through his experiences touring the UK, doing small gigs. He would perform to audiences on Friday and Saturday nights and then go to church the following Sunday morning. Churches, he argues, are a lot more varied and interesting than people assume.

“I wanted to create a positive response that would bring churches around the country together,” he explains. “In my experience, different churches can give completely different experiences — from the really traditional ones to the ones that are sort of mavericks.”

So who is this show for? “Everyone,” he says. “The audiences so far have been pretty much a 50-50 split between church-goers and everyone else.

“I want different age groups and different faiths to come together and be able to enjoy the show.

“I kind of assume most people aren’t Christians, so it’s not in-jokey at all.

“The act has a bit of everything in it. A bit of politics, a bit of this, a bit of that.”

Kerensa is positive about the perceived battle between religion and comedians and disarmingly friendly when the subject is broached.

“There’s no need to be flippant about faith,” he says, “but we do need to laugh at ourselves as well.

“What I really want to do is convince comedians and the public that there is more to the church than they think.

“I also want to show the church that there’s more to comedy than they think.

“I don’t believe in writing off the whole concept of religion,” he added “because I don’t think it’s all bad. “So I’m slightly defending it... but also having some fun.”


So a Comedian Walks Into A Church
Wesley Memorial and Cowley Road Churches
Tonight, 7.30–9.30pm
Tickets: £10 or £8. Call 01865 243216 or visit eventbrite.co.uk