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
My cousin has sent me an excellent joke related to the recent fishing trip –
2 priests and a Rabbi go fishing and haul in 13 mackerel. At the end of the day they start to argue about how much fish they should keep, and how much they should give to charity.
The first priest says, “Look we draw a circle on the ground, climb this ladder and throw the fish down. However many fish land inside the circle, that is clearly what God wants us to give away. ”
The second priest says, “No no no!!! Look we draw a circle on the ground, climb this ladder and throw the fish down. However many fish land outside the circle, that is clearly what God wants us to give away. ”
The Rabbi says, “No no no no!!! Look we draw a circle on the ground, climb this ladder and throw the fish way up in the air, and what ever God wants he will keep. ”
Thanks to @MightyErk
The nearby city of Hubli here in Karnataka held a unique competition last week ”An Abuse without Offending Contest”. Its goal – to judge intelligent and inventive ways of abusing each other. I had to check the date of the newspaper – it wasn’t April the First! 350 participants took to the stage either solo or as a duo (husband-wife, friends or brother-sister). The type of abuse was strictly controlled – participants were not allowed to use filthy language or hurt others with regard to caste, creed, religion or sex but could insult others using English, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam or any other Indian language. Evidently the aim of the competition was ‘to find a peaceful language in today’s troubled times.’ The winners were an elderly couple, Savita and Gangadhar Hiremath, married for more than five decades. They argued, quarreled and abused each other – and had the audience in gales of laughter with their inventive and witty insults, and they walked away with the first prize. Their prize – a garland of flowers.”We’re happy to win the first prize. On the stage we stayed natural and used language which we use in our daily life,” said the couple in unison at the end of the event.
When I was a teenager we used to learn Monty Python scripts off by heart and recite them at the back of the coach on the way back from sporting fixtures (its a bit embarrassing to admit this now). One of our favorite sketches was the ‘I’d like to have an argument’ sketch, where the hapless Michael Palin, wanders into the wrong room, and gets a volley of abuse. When he looks bewildered – his assailant realises he is lost and tells him, ‘oh this is abuse you want room 12a for an argument.’ Never did I think I would come across this in real life.
Maybe….. and this is a very tentative maybe….. there is some point to this bizarre contest. The organisers claimed “Most often a verbal duel turns offensive and leads to physical fights. Thus we want to encourage people to make their habit of abusing or scolding fellow human beings without any malice and thereby also enjoy and have fun in the process. Friendly bantering should be encouraged between people to vent their anger.” Having worked in all boys school, I used to find the majority of banter tiresome, especially in the staff room, but recognise that it could be an important way to let of steam. I have to acknowledge there were some geniuses at it – especially the students. Some of their observations and use of language could make me crack up, which could be a bit embarrassing, especially when trying to teach a lesson. I perfected the trick of writing on the whiteboard with my back to the class when I was battling to keep a straight face.
Wonderful ………………… Only in India!