On this Easter holiday weekend this post is in no way meant to be disrespectful of those with religious beliefs. We are living in completely mad times – possibly end times – and I feel it’s important to try and keep some perspective, some sanity, and humour is a very good way of doing that. When I was growing-up in the UK in the 1970s an Irish comedian called Dave Allen was a big star. Allen’s act was typified by a relaxed, rueful and intimate style. He sat on a high bar stool facing his audience, smoking and occasionally sipping from a glass of what he always allowed people to assume was whiskey, but was in fact merely ginger ale with ice. At the time he was Britain’s most controversial comedian, regularly provoking indignation at his frequent highlighting of political hypocrisy and his disregard for religious authority. With regard to his mockery of power and religion, in 1998 Allen said this:
The hierarchy of everything in my life has always bothered me. I’m bothered by power. People, whoever they might be, whether it’s the government, or the policeman in the uniform, or the man on the door – they still irk me a bit. From school, from the first nun that belted me – people used to think of the nice sweet little ladies … they used to knock the fuck out of you, in the most cruel way that they could. They’d find bits of your body that were vulnerable to intense pain – grabbing you by the ear, or by the nose, and lift you, and say ‘Don’t cry!’ It’s very hard not to cry. I mean, not from emotion, but pain. The priests were the same. And I sit and watch politicians with great cynicism, total cynicism.
At the end of his act, Dave Allen always raised his glass and quietly toasted his audience with the words: “Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you”.