The Jesuit community here in Edinburgh is full to bursting this August as many guests come to stay.  Yesterday we had a very interesting arrival. Jake Martin is a Jesuit scholastic from the Chicago province, and has a week long stand up show at the Edinburgh Fringe called ‘Learning to Pray in front of the Television‘.  It has been interesting seeing the very healthy congregations here swell a little bit during the start of the festival, at communion time I have noticed a few actors, comedians and got to know a couple of producers who are all clamouring for attention during the festival. However I didn’t expect to see a Jesuit performing at the fringe – hats off to him, brave !  So I asked him to answer questions about his show – if you like the sound of it – come and support him! Or let your friends know about it (links below).

Anyway he has kindly answered three questions for us…

Why is the show called ‘learning to pray in front of the television’ ?

 Learning to Pray in Front of the Television was originally the title of a book I wrote which is being released this October, but the publishers didn’t like it as much as I did so they changed it; but when I decided to put a show up, I thought it was a great opportunity to use my awesome title.

The title fit for the book because it was a memoir (now titled What’s So Funny About Faith: A Memoir at the Intersection of Holy and Hilarious, Loyola Press) and I felt it summed up my childhood and the influence the media had on my faith development.  The show, on the other hand is part fiction, with some autobiographical parts, but television and the media still play a strong role in it.  As a matter of fact, the format of the show is set-up like a reality show, American Idol to be precise, (I know the UK had Pop Idol and The X Factor before it, but I’m a dumb American so American Idol is all I know) and the audience will vote at the end of the show as to whether or not I should be ordained a priest.

Jake Martin SJ – First Jesuit on the fringe?

Maybe you are the first ‘religious’ or Jesuit standup on the fringe what would you like to achieve?

I didn’t know I was the first Jesuit at the Fringe (and if I’m the first Jesuit, then I’m probably the first ‘religious’ period, since we always seem to be the first to move outside of the boundaries of the conventional religious.  I don’t have huge goals for the Fringe other than to hopefully perform for more than two people a night.  The important thing for me has already been done: I wrote a piece that I’m proud of and has a very particular point of view on faith and culture.

Who or what has inspired you to do this?

I did comedy back in Chicago for years and I always heard about the Fringe, it’s a huge deal to go in the States, but, of course, it costs a lot of money and it’s not exactly convenient time wise.  Two years ago I was finally able to attend with a group of high school students who were performing as a part of the American High School Theatre Fest which coincides with the Fringe and I just fell in love with the event.  It’s truly like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  For an artist–especially a performing artist–it’s nirvana (I’m aware of the irony of that statement) and the sense of community and expression are remarkably life affirming.  It was an incredibly spiritual experience for me. I vowed (yes very religious-y phrasing I know) that I would someday come back and do my own show.  This year just happened to be the year that I got my act together and was able to get here.

Find out more about him in this Huffington Post article – click here

To book tickets for Jakes show – click here