The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is now over for another year. It’s a wonderfully rich and varied festival of not just laughs, but some important and thought-provoking ideas as well. This year, Other Half and I went to see Catherine Deveny, as we enjoy her columns and I was also impressed with her performance at AtheistCon last month. Other acts I was very keen to see were Philip Escoffey’s 6 More Impossible Things Before Dinner and Jamie Kilstein’s Revenge of the Serfs (another performer from AtheistCon). But ‘saving is the new spending’ in the Lost in Scientia household this year so we limited ourselves to one show only. And that show was God Is Bullshit: And That’s the Good News.
Deveny sold out her show in the small, sweaty room at Trades Hall every night of the comedy festival, and put on a number of extra shows to cope with demand. There is even an extended season, happening soon. The show got off to a poor start for me, as it was virtually verbatim what I’d heard at AtheistCon less than a month earlier. However, things were on the improve about halfway through when the newer material began to surface. The journey of Deveny’s reversion to atheism was interspersed with frequent Abbott/Fielding/Nile/Pell bashing, … and some charming lesser-known bible stories.
And then there were the jokes aimed at the Lapsed Catholics Club, which judging by the laughs, there were a fair few members in the audience. But these fly straight over the head of someone like me, whose entire life has been completely devoid of religion and wouldn’t know who St Anthony was if he appeared in my kitchen tomorrow morning holding my car keys.
There was also a short part of the show where Catherine gets serious. I think this is aimed at those who are ‘closet atheists’, or lapsed Christians, encouraging them to come out, wake up to and do something about the myriad injustices religion inflicts on our society and everyday lives.
For the climax of the show, an audience member is bought up on stage to assist in Deveny’s ‘de-baptism’. The de-baptism includes a renouncing of Christianity, a hairdryer ‘for a slightly Farrah Fawcett look’, and most importantly a black, self-inking ATHEIST stamp, placed strategically on the arms and chest. After the show, Catherine was happily stamping audience members with said stamp and I was thrilled to be stamped on my forearm.
If you have Catholic parents, cackle over Deveny’s columns in The Age, enjoy ridicule of religion and far right-wing politicians, have an unhealthy obsession with Tony Jones and Christopher Hitchens then this show is for you. Details of the extended season can be found here.
Last week I took a detour on my way home from work which promptly led me to take a wrong turn. Unplanned detours are common when I deviate from my usual travel routes, especially when the inner city is involved. What with all of the one way streets, left lane must turn left, no U-turn, you are now on the un-turnaroundable street of no return directly into the mouth of hell. So I can only conclude that this was an official Act Of God, that this holy vision appeared in front of my windscreen.
I have been aware of the atheist bus campaign since the original placement of the ads on buses in London last year, and was really excited when I heard they were coming to Melbourne too. But unfortunately for me, the bus routes the ads are on only service the Northern suburbs – an area I rarely visit. So despite keeping an eye out for a while now, it has taken until now for me to actually see one in the flesh… err, plastic.
The timing of the ads appearing in Australia coincided pretty nicely with the Global Atheist Convention last month. In a way this is great, but it also sucks that the Atheist Foundation of Australia probably won’t be able to gauge the effectiveness of each event (in terms of website hits or other means) due to the fact that they happened almost simultaneously. The ads are spreading and can now be found in countries including Britain, France, Spain, Italy, the USA, Canada, and Ireland.
According to the Atheist Foundation of Australia website, the ads have been a success and we may be seeing more of these types of ads in the future so keep your eyes (and minds) open.