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1

I've written a pun a day over at my Scrivolity tumblr. Tonight I hit 365. So to celebrate here are 100 of the less terrible ones...

  1. My brother sequenced his whole genome and put it in a spreadsheet. I said, Bill, you’ve excelled yourself.
  2. What is "vicarious research"? Asking for a friend
  3. – Those are killer shoes!
    – Not really, they’re moccassassins
  4. I tried to invent a single-digit number system but it proved untenable.
  5. An A-Team fancy dress party? Not sure I can’t face it.
  6. "And now to round 3 of our genetic engineering quiz: Fingers on buzzards..."
  7. When I solved the anagram "COUNT A SNAIL GROT", I thought: congratulations are in order.
  8. Remorse code: the language of hopes dashed
  9. I’m working on a basic introduction to Americanisms. It’s called “’Pacifiers’ for ‘Dummies’”
  10. I hear your canal boat sank. My gondolances
  11. I like the M6 but Spaghetti Junction’s a major turnoff.
  12. Every time I hear a hypochondria gag I wonder if I’ve got it.
  13. I’d like to open a massive clothing store called “Big Ts” and then refuse to sell any T-shirts.
  14. My general knowledge is appalling. My sergeant knowledge is little better. I’m a rank amateur
  15. What? Redoing a Steven King horror as a Pixar adventure story? You couldn’t make It Up.
  16. I once owned a cheese-eating insect. Briefly
  17. Yul Brynner isn’t competitive about musical roles. He knows it’s all about the Thai king part
  18. My boss hates over-familiar greetings so if I catch myself saying “Hiya”, I always follow up with a devastating karate chop.
  19. If you still don’t know why Jesus died, I've got two words for you.
  20. – You’ve lived 30 years on Loch Ness and never discussed the monster?
    – It never came up.
  21. I could tell he went to public school. He had that harrowed look.
  22. I’d love to join your miniature Hindustani band tonight. Unfortunately I can’t get a baby sitar
  23. If you think I’m going to remake an 80s B-movie you’ve got another Thing coming.
  24. – Can you recite any of the Nazirite vows?
    – Not off the top of my head.
  25. I will pass your English exam, you mark my words
  26. The filthiest radiographer was “X-ray Ted”
  27. I don’t think the Scarecrow was stupid, I just think he made a lot of straw man arguments.
  28. Psychic extremists need to find a happy medium.
  29. I can never properly calculate my Body Mass Index. I’m a bit dense sometimes
  30. Camus was a tricky philosopher to get your header round.
  31. Shout Out to all the scapegoats
  32. I can confirm now that I’m a bishop
  33. “There was Damon Albarn, Alex James, and, to be honest the rest is a bit of a blur.”
  34. Trojan Horse: one trick pony
  35. * France's greatest prosecutor was Jack Hughes
    * Italy's worst lawyer was Mia Culpa
    * Israel's greatest legal expert was the Jewess Prudence
  36. I'm not saying John Williams is a drug addict, just that he's always making arrangements to score.
  37. The calmest lizard was the camemileon
  38. The first salvaging contract for the Titanic has been awarded. Well done guys, take a bow.
  39. I get an obscene amount of money for each stanza of poetry I write. It’s perverse.
  40. – Those Japanese poems are genius.
    – Meh, I’d call them High IQ.
  41. Every time I ask my wife for specifics she says “Wocka, Wocka, Wocka.” She’s fozzie on the details
  42. I know tasseography and oceanography sound like fun but you’ve got to read the teas and seas
  43. My beautician is draining excess fluids from my body. I’m pretty pumped
  44. At the Flatliners World Championships they always play sudden death
  45. You want to add your fancy “wearable technology” to my trusty Casio? Not on my watch.
  46. If you like building personalised lighthouses that’s your own lookout.
  47. Cuba’s big problem has been finding a successor to Castro but no one wants to play second Fidel
  48. If it’s all the same to you I’ll call you a monist
  49. - Ready for our orthopaedics exam?
    - Yes I’ve really boned up. Have u studied the narcotics directory?
    - Think I’m up to speed
  50. Is it just me or does the word synaesthesia smell purple?
  51. - I can't stand all you cattle ranchers.
    - Why?
    - Cowboys, the lot of you.
    - Cowboys??
    - You herd.
  52. Those who lose their faith go off the depend.
  53. - You say Standby
    - I say Hibernate
    - Standby
    - Hibernate
    - Standby
    - Hibernate
    - Let's call the whole thing Off
  54. My mate's IQ is very average. He's a simple ton. (Sorry if that sounds mean)
  55. As the tribute band played Hoppipolla I thought “Close but no Sigur.”
  56. Phew! Survived Pamplona. Dodged a bullock there.
  57. I love collecting Hebrew words, can I get an Amen?
  58. Depict Europe’s tallest mountain? I’m drawing a blanc.
  59. I tried ordering from “Pistachios To You”. It’s driving me nuts.
  60. My boss has me ranking colas all day long. It’s soda grading.
  61. Knuckle sandwiches are fine. Just roll with the punches.
  62. The iCloud’s fine but Dropbox gets my backup
  63. Gangrene costs an almondy leg
  64. Wait a minute, did seahorses invent water polo?
  65. Unfortunately sauciers are often reduced to stock phrases. Jus saying.
  66. Are you depressed by continual commands to exercise? Chin up
  67. I know it’s a long shot but any chance of a yard of vodka? (Don't be mean spirited now!)
  68. Don’t ask a nihilist to hoover. Nietzsche abhors a vacuum.
  69. Stoics want to correct my spelling. They have no affect.
  70. “Death by Sunburn” was never a form of capital punishment in Britain. That’s a summery execution.
  71. Hang on, aren't we all hoarse whisperers?
  72. Is bad spelling getting you down? Their their.
  73. If telemarketers cold call me I usually throw the phone across the room. It’s just one of my hangups.
  74. Thanks for your manicuring advice, I’ll file it away.
  75. My whole life’s a mistake. Even my blood’s a typo.
  76. – You said you’d work in my restaurant last night?
    – I said I can’t wait!
  77. Britain is so sceptical it defies belief.
  78. I just grew the perfect root vegetable. It’s a real turnip for the books.
  79. “A pox on both your houses” was a rash pronouncement.
  80. Agnosticism could be wrong, you never know.
  81. You think I’m obsessed with Bob Holness? O please!
  82. I’d like to breed racing deers. I hear you can make a fast buck.
  83. I couldn’t bare it if they outlawed nudism.
  84. My stripper name is Mobius. I NEVER show my backside.
  85. – I’m totes soz for making fun of your hearing aids…
    – Really?
    – Yeah, deffo.
  86. Just entered a yodelling competition. I’m in with a shout
  87. – How come all roads only lead to Rome?
    – Cos there’s no two-ways about It.
  88. I’ve come up with a thousand separate arguments against scholasticism. They’re a bit a-Thomistic
  89. Colonel Sanders: Chick magnate
  90. The temple drummer refused to accompany the service but I had him bang to rites.
  91. Phwoar, binary code! That’s a noughty one
  92. I’ve invented an abbreviated form of morse code – for when you just want to dash something off.
  93. Unsure about artificial intelligence? One day it’ll be make your mind up time.
  94. "Yeah, it's called a Weep-aphone. A WEEPAPHONE for crying out loud."
  95. Ah, the Aztec priest, there’s a man after my own heart
  96. Is it just me or is solipsism nuts?
  97. 0K magazine leaves me absolutely cold.
  98. If you like Pop, you’ll LOVE Bublé Rap
  99. They don’t like you shrinking the Pyramid of Cheops. Small wonder.
  100. I'm competing in the World Anaesthetics Championships but I reckon I’m only there to make up the numbers.

And then, my favourite kind of pun - a tortuous spoonerism - at 101.

My father quit his job cleaning Tube tracks after they asked him to double as a late-night ghost-buster. He doesn’t fluffer ghouls sadly.

Not sorry.

 

2

Comedy and Christianity

Dante said, "A tragedy is a story that begins in joy and ends in pain. A comedy is a story that begins in pain but ends in joy." In that sense, Christianity is an Almighty comedy.

In this 20 Minute Talk I make two basic points:

1) Comedy is serious.

2) Christianity is comedic.

2

Here's a repost about the vital importance of not being too earnest...

Comedy and Christianity

First of all, taking yourself lightly needs to be held together with the other half of the truth: we must take God seriously.  Once I take God seriously - and by that I mean the trinitarian God of the Gospel - only then am I freed to get my eyes off myself.

Every human religion has humanity working before a watching God.  The true God works before a watching humanity - Isaiah 64:4.  In fact, as Isaiah says, that is the distinctive of the living God - He is the God of the gospel.  And this gospel is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit take salvation entirely into their own hands and leave not one calorie of effort to be done by us.

Once we see the Son taking our humanity, empowered by the Spirit to live our life before the Father and then die the death we should die - all in our place and on our behalf - then we see that it's out of our hands.  Completely out of our hands.

Hence the punchline of so many of Paul's gospel explanations: "Where then is boasting??!"  (Rom 3:27; 4:2; 1 Cor 1:29,31; 3:21; Gal 6:14; Eph 2:9).  Boasting is essentially the definition of taking yourself too seriously.  And it's the opposite of joy!

The gospel means that we must get off centre-stage, sit in the audience and watch the living God work salvation for us.  And thus we take God seriously and we do not take ourselves seriously.  In fact the essence of faith is to transfer our focus entirely from self to Christ.

Before Paul came to faith he used to take himself very seriously.  He would spend his time building and making known his spiritual CV:  Circumcised on the 8th day, of the people of Israel... (Phil 3:5ff).  But when he came to see Christ as the gift of righteousness from God to be received by faith he counted that whole self-focused, CV-building, take-myself-very-seriously Pharisaism as dung!  Total crap! (Phil 3:8).  (And if we don't like those words maybe we need to lighten up and stop taking ourselves so seriously!)

Now he just wants to be found in Christ (Phil 3:9).  The old Paul is dead, crucified with Christ (Rom 6:3ff; Gal 2:20; 6:14).  And he entrusts every judgement about himself into Christ's hands:

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Cor 4:3-4).

In the (half-remembered) words of Tim Keller, Paul is basically saying "I don't care what you think of me, I don't even care what I think of me."  Paul has been so liberated by Jesus from self-focus, he knows his life is hidden with Christ in God - that's where his true life is (Col 3:1-4).  And he refuses to be drawn back down into navel-gazing.

So that's what I basically mean when I say, Take God seriously, Don't take yourself seriously.  Be released by Jesus into happy dependence.  Then you can roar with laughter and not worry about what a goof you look. Then you can make fun of yourself and all your ridiculous self-salvation projects.  Then you can hold everything else lightly because you know that you yourself are gripped by the triune God.

I admit that this can all sound quite radical because we tend to think that spiritual people are very serious people.  And the more spiritual, the more serious.  Well that's true for every human religion.  But the gospel of Jesus is utterly different.  And it's the one power to liberate us from the slavery to self and truly release us into the joy of the Spirit.

More on not being too earnest.

More on Comedy and Christianity
.

2

...An older rant about Rev, comedy, Christianity and not taking yourself too seriously...

If there's one thing Oscar Wilde teaches us about comedy it's the vital importance of not being earnest.  If Earnest was earnest there'd be no Earnest - if you catch my drift.

Whatever you put at the centre of your comedy it cannot be earnestness or else it will pull all things down into it's righteous self-absorption.

Which brings me to Rev - the BBC sitcom set in an East London church.  At the centre is Adam, a well-meaning priest who seems world-weary long before his time.  From the outset he seems worn down by the clash of his sincere liberalism and the harsh realities of modern ministry.  His heavy soul dominates the show and there just aren't any interesting characters to offset this earnest-overload.  The writers seem very aware of this, desperately trying to punctuate the morass with some fairly blunt sex gags.  Something's got to break up the moralism.

Maybe this sounds weird coming from a minister - but the whole thing is just way too preachy.  The punchlines all fall to Adam who turns them into sermonettes:

Colin isn't vital to anyone, Darren, except God. And if God loves you, Darren, then he loves Colin just as much.

In any other comedy this would be the feedline.  In Rev it's the punchline.

Now there are ways of communicating the love of God creatively.  But you couldn't shift gears more clunkily if Adam turned to camera and said "You know guys, if you're affected by any of the issues raised by this episode, phone the number on your screen..."

So much comedy works off pricking the bubbles that Rev produces.  But it's usually a wide-eyed, joyful bubble pricked by a caustic, insightful wit.  Think of Blackadder with Baldrick, or Peter Cook with Dudley Moore, or Basil Fawlty with the Major / Manuel, or Del Boy with Rodney, or Sir Humphrey with Jim Hacker, or Bernard with Manny, or Mark with Jez.  There's an ebullience and joy to the bubble and a razor-sharp riposte to burst it.

But in Rev it's a tired moralistic bloat bludgeoned by sex gags (oo er vicar).

And it's not as though you need a sardonic crank at the heart of the show.  In the church context, Father Ted and The Vicar of Dibley worked exceptionally well as comedies - I'd say largely because there was a joie de vivre in the central characters.  In fact here (and with anything Graham Linehan does) it's not so much about bursting the bubble, more about the bubble gloriously flying off into the stratosphere.

But this is so desperately lacking in Rev and instead we have a black-hole of worthiness in the worst sense.

I think it goes to show something I harped on about last year.  There's nothing less joyful, nothing less funny, than taking yourself seriously.  True joy comes when we take God seriously but not ourselves.

More posts on comedy here.

5

god-seriously-self-lightly-21

.

Here's the audio of my talk on the subject

All this began here.

Then I had some initial thoughts on the usefulness of comedy here

There's an excellent CS Lewis quote here

Here is a very expanded early version of the talk: part one, part two, part three, part four.

Then some follow up thoughts on blasphemy here and here.

.

.

If there's one thing Oscar Wilde teaches us about comedy it's the vital importance of not being earnest.  If Earnest was earnest there'd be no Earnest - if you catch my drift.

.

Whatever you put at the centre of your comedy it cannot be earnestness or else it will pull all things down into it's righteous self-absorption.

.

.

Which brings me to Rev - the new BBC sitcom set in an East London church.  At the centre is Adam, a well-meaning priest who seems world-weary long before his time.  We've only had three episodes but from the outset he seems worn out by the clash of his sincere liberalism and the harsh realities of modern ministry.  His heavy soul weighs down the whole show and there just aren't any interesting characters to offset this earnest-overload.  The writers seem very aware of this, desperately trying to punctuate the morass with some fairly blunt sex gags.  Something's got to break up the moralism.

Maybe this sounds weird coming from a minister - but the whole thing is just way too preachy.  The punchlines all fall to Adam who turns them into sermonettes:

Colin isn't vital to anyone, Darren, except God. And if God loves you, Darren, then he loves Colin just as much.

In any other comedy this would be the feedline.  In Rev it's the punchline.

Now there are ways of communicating the love of God creatively.  But you couldn't shift gears more clunkily if Adam turned to camera and said "You know guys, if you're affected by any of these issues, phone the number on your screen..."

So much comedy works off pricking the bubbles that Rev produces.  But it's usually a wide-eyed, joyful bubble pricked by a caustic, insightful wit.  Think of Blackadder with Baldrick, or Peter Cook with Dudley Moore, or Basil Fawlty with the Major / Manuel, or Del Boy with Rodney, or Sir Humphrey with Jim Hacker, or Bernard with Manny, or Mark with Jez.  There's an ebullience and joy to the bubble and a razor-sharp riposte to burst it.

But in Rev it's a tired moralistic bloat bludgeoned by sex gags (oo er vicar).

And it's not as though you need a sardonic crank at the heart of the show.  In the church context, Father Ted and The Vicar of Dibley worked exceptionally well as comedies - I'd say largely because there was a joie de vivre in the central characters.  In fact here (and with anything Graham Linehan does) it's not so much about bursting the bubble, more about the bubble gloriously flying off into the stratosphere.

But this is so desperately lacking in Rev and instead we have a black-hole of worthiness in the worst sense.

I think it goes to show something I harped on about last year.  There's nothing less joyful, nothing less funny, than taking yourself seriously.  True joy comes when we take God seriously but not ourselves.

More posts on comedy here.

.

9

god-seriously-self-lightly-21

 

.

Here's the audio of my talk on the subject

All this began here.

Then I had some initial thoughts on the usefulness of comedy here

There's an excellent CS Lewis quote here

Here is a very expanded early version of the talk: part one, part two, part three, part four.

Then some follow up thoughts on blasphemy here and here.

 

.

2

... Interesting that the city clerk of Ephesus did not consider Paul to have blasphemed Artemis, their goddess. (Acts 19:37)  Along with strong and clear proclamation, Paul was obviously respectful in a way that gained the notice of the pagans.

Just something to bear in mind as we speak about other religions.

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