Faith at the Fringe

Posted by Simon Cross  ·  Be the first to comment

Jesuit Jake Martin has become the first member of a Religious order to have a stand-up comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

His one man performance ‘Learning to pray in front of the Television’ is a kind of spoof reality show, in which the audience get to choose whether the performer should take Holy Orders.

But in fact the decision has already been made, Fr Martin joined the society of Jesus eight years ago, and only has three more years of theological study left, before he is ordained as a Priest.

Prior to joining the Religious life order, which was founded by Ignatius of Loyola, he worked as a sketch writer and improv comedian in his home town of Chicago, USA.

Jesuits have traditionally been drawn from all walks of life  -and Jake is not the first member of the order to have an involvement in the arts, Gerard Manley Hopkins, the famous poet, was a member of the order – and the list of members who have been writers is extensive.

Jake was inspired to create the show when he accompanied a group of American high school students to the Edinburgh festival one year, that he began to dream of appearing there himself.

He said: “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.”

His show is based upon a forthcoming book: What’s So Funny About Faith: A Memoir at the Intersection of Holy and Hilarious, to be published by Loyola Press.

The book was originally conceived with the title – Learning to pray in front of the Television, but editors changed the title, leaving Jake with a ready-made name for his Stand Up show.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is famous for many things, experimental drama, wacky comedy, and of course breaking new talent – impressionist Rory Bremner found fame at the Fringe, as did Steve Coogan, creator of spoof TV and Radio host Alan Partridge. Even theatrical luminary Derek Jacobi had his first big ‘break’ in Edinburgh.

Now thousands of acts are booked every year for the month long festival, with tens of thousands of performances, plus numerous street performers and various free shows. Nearly two million tickets were sold in 2011.

But the scale of the Fringe can make it hard for unknown performers to ‘break through’ and get an audience.

So Jake Martin will be hoping that being the first Religious to have his own stand up show, will be enough to entice curious punters through the door – tickets for his show, which runs from the 13th to the 20th of August, are £8.00 full price, and £5.00 for concessions.

Evidently taking Holy Orders doesn’t make you immune from nervousness. When asked how he felt about the show, he said:  "I feel like I want to vomit all of the time."

22nd August

August 22nd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross

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