Why does Jesus curse? He was a carpenter, after all, and besides, his second coming appearance at Revolutions International Theatre Festival is made easier for us mere mortals when he talks like a real human being and not the Almighty.
Comedy Jesus, played by Troy Conrad, was preaching to the choir — a near full-house at Puccini’s Golden West Saloon downtown last night — when he delivered his message of liberal tolerance and love, all centered around the most important of the commandments: Thou shalt not be a dick!
Returning from the celestial netherworld to combat misconceptions and contradictions that have marred his historical portrait here on Earth, Jesus admitted that his comedic deconstruction of over-zealous, religious fanaticism in his name was probably nothing new to the audience in this liberal town, and for the most part, he was right. His superb portrayal of obvious flaws in fanatical behavior within Christian, Muslim and Jewish circles as of late — such as a recent Christian propaganda piece that proclaims the paradox “crusade against violence!” — illustrates the types of frustrating observations that many of us in the crowd have made over and over again when taking a critical look at faith-based activity.
This is precisely why Comedy Jesus has done something that the whole world needs to see, now. He has used the art of comedy to gel what we’ve all been feeling for so long into one cohesive, hilarious, cathartic and socially poignant routine. It is a well-oiled, sleek vehicle to get our common message across. In other words, it’s one thing to think it, but it’s another thing when someone like Conrad gets up and says it so beautifully. Now if only we could get him to stage his show at Ted Haggard’s New Life Church in Colorado Springs so that the folks who really need to laugh at their own absurdity can do so.
If you need any more reason to see Comedy Jesus tonight in Santa Fe at the Armory at 8 p.m., it’s this: He will answer any question you’ve ever wanted to ask him. The best question asked of him last night, “What’s up with the West Side sprawl?” is something we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another. Again, the answer was something we only needed to look inside ourselves to find: “It never ends well.”
Some important advice for those of you going tonight: sit where you can see the video screen.
Also playing again tonight in Santa Fe after Comedy Jesus is New York and Los Angeles comedian Rick Shapiro, who lists credits on Late Night with Conan O’Brian and The Howard Stern Show. Citing his past drug and sex addictions as the reason for his slightly manic disposition onstage, Shapiro made our abs and jaw muscles ache when he nailed his punchlines and even when he didn’t. Expressing a real desire to speak in free-association babble, but recognizing that he had to conform to at least a few classic grammar constructions for our sake, Shapiro is a well-seasoned funnyman who won’t drop the ball, even when he has you convinced he just might. At Golden West last night, he was happy to see that most of his jokes that don’t work on staunchy, humorless New York audiences who think they’ve seen it all actually work quite well with audiences here. Let’s see what the staunchies up in Santa Fe think. The advice here is, if you’re easily offended by sex, gender, politics or religion, be brave for once in your life and sit through Shapiro’s whole set. This is free speech at its best.
Playing Wednesday night, January 30 as part of the Free Speech Comedy Art Series at Golden West at 8 p.m. are Canadian comic Nile Séquin and internationally renowned comic John Fugelsang, who lists credits on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and CSI, to name a couple. Fugelsang, who was in attendance at Golden West last night, says audiences can expect a good dose of comedic criticism aimed at religion and politics. I believe he told me something like, “I grew up around a bunch of scary nuns and altar boys.”As for that apocalyptic blizzard that we stepped into after the show last night, we were all in consensus that it was brought by Jesus.