Does God laugh?
Is comedy hard? Should we laugh? What about God - does he laugh?
In this episode, host Robert Martin speaks with Howard Langmead (an Anglican priest who doubles up as a stand up comic) and Shelia Allen (entrant in 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival RAW Comedy). Another hilarious episode with jokes, great stories and thoughtful reflections on the Bible.
This episode of Bigger Questions was recorded under the show's previous title 'Logos Live', in Melbourne before a live audience in April 2015.
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Experience as believer and comedian
Shelia - you’ve done ‘open mike’ comedy. Did you win? Is that scary?
Now both of you do comedy. Tell us how that happened. When did you realise that you might want to do stand up comedy?
You’re also a Christian believer - tell us how that happened? What convinced you to be a believer?
Do you get puzzled looks when people realise you’re a Christian and a comedian?
Nature of comedy
How much writing and preparation do you do? Do you go up to past strangers on the train and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a new joke, what do you think?’
Is there pressure when you’re a comedian? Whenever someone meets you and says, ‘go on tell us a joke’. How do you feel about that?
Ok, so you’re both comedians, ‘tell us a joke!’
Shelia - you’re a woman who does comedy. Comedy seems to be dominated by men. Why do you think that is? How do you feel about that?
How well do you know ‘laughter'?
What constitutes an evil laugh? Why do villains laugh when hatching their evil plans?
What makes a person laugh?
God and humour - the issues
Laughter is universal. We are all born with the capacity to laugh. Even deaf people laugh. So why do we laugh?
I heard the musician Ben Folds at a concert once and he started his show by singing:
If there's a god, he's laughing at us. And our football team
It’s from his song Effington. Does God laugh?
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain
2 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
5 He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
6 “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
This passage talks about God laughing, but it’s not because someone cracked a good joke is it? Howard, what is this passage saying?
Who are the kings of the earth and the rulers?
Is God here like the evil despotic rulers laughing at their sinister plots?
This is a Royal, Messianic Psalm. And it speaks about a future ‘anointed king’, God’s chosen one. Now the chosen one is a common theme in movies, like Kung Fu Panda, The Chosen One in the Lego Movie, Neo from the Matrix and Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars. In verse 6 he speaks about this ‘chosen king’ whom he has installed. Who is this king?
There are other instances of God laughing in the Scriptures. For example Psalm 37:12-13.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
Here God laughs at the wicked. But it's slightly different because God is looking to the future. It’s not so much laughing in derision, but ‘I know what’s going to happen to you’. Why would God laugh in this situation?
The late Robin Williams hoped that there would be laughter in heaven, like you arrive and God says, ‘Two Jews walk into a bar’. Will there be laughter in heaven?
So Shelia and Howard, we’ve been thinking about laughter. Does God laugh?