Adelaide Fringe Festival organisers say they will not cancel a Melbourne comedian’s show that has come under fire as being anti-Christian. The ABC reports…
Josh Ladgrove’s one-man show, Come Heckle Christ, will feature at the festival later this month despite more than a dozen official complaints.
The show begins with Ladgrove, who has long hair and a beard, arriving on stage in flowing robes and sticky taped to a makeshift crucifix.
However, the comedian says the show is not a commentary on religion.
“The show is just an opportunity for the audience to come along and heckle an idiot – that’s me – for an hour,” he said.
“It’s an entirely improvised show; there is no script, there is no premise, there’s no preconceived idea of what needs to be said.
“It absolutely does not have to be about religion or Christianity or Jesus; it’s simply a means to an end and a catchy title.”
Ladgrove says he performed the show at last year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival without complaint and is surprised at the reaction ahead of the Adelaide shows.
“I didn’t think that Jesus was a particularly controversial topic,” he said.
“I didn’t think it was something that was so sensitive that it was off limits.
“Surely if we can’t poke fun at religion and if we can’t exercise our freedom of speech, then what’s the point of being a free democratic society?”
So it’s not a commentary on religion, eh, Josh? So, what about the following review from Crikey?
Suzy Freeman writes …
What would Jesus do? We asked, but sadly you’ll never know.
At least, not until this show’s next run. Come Heckle Christ was a one-night-only show at this year’s Fringe, but given the enthusiasm of the crowd on the night, it seems unlikely to be the last we see of this particular Jesus.
Joshua Ladgrove’s tantalisingly controversial offering drew massive crowds to the Imperial Hotel, despite it being way past bedtime on a blustery Monday night. <b>The venue was packed to the hilt with off-duty comedians and laypeople proving that, despite recent trends of disengagement with religion, the general population are still pretty keen to lay some serious (and, as it turns out, quite childish) abuse on ol’ JC.</b>
Ladgrove undoubtedly looked the part and put himself forward as an open vessel for hecklers, questioners and commenters alike. The heckling didn’t take long to erupt and once it did it was a strangely cathartic experience. This was audience-driven comedy at its best—the show that writes itself—and the audience pushed the boundaries of acceptability pretty early on. Even the cheap shots drew laughs (‘Shut up, Jesus!’), because the situation was just so darn weird.
Once the call for heckles was made, organic hilarity seemed destined to ensue. Any lulls were due to the crowd’s inability to stop laughing, rather than a product of too little potential material.
Ladgrove’s Zen-like, all-knowing presence prevented any of the awkward silences that could have accompanied this risky improvisation. It is a testament (no pun intended) to the sheer creativity behind this show that things went as smoothly as they did.
A simple idea, bravely and brilliantly executed.
Note to Joshua: If the apocalyptic winds outside the venue afterwards were anything to go by, someone upstairs is not happy with you. Be warned!
Interesting how the venue was packed with off-duty comedians. Is this an indication that they like to gather to insult Christ on their day off? Interesting.
Heckling at Christians’ expense isn’t new, of course. They are the easiest target of all. They have to be, since they are instructed to take it on the chin, or on the cheek, actually, even offering the other as a back-up.
So, the big question is, now that Josh has been so, er… incredibly bold as to challenge people to insult Jesus, when will he be performing the sequel, ‘Come Heckle Mo’?
One suspects that is a bridge too far. He may get one or two laughs, but the ensuing riot might end his career prematurely. Insulting Christ is one thing, but setting oneself up for martyrdom isn’t in the script.
Which all goes to show what jolly accepting people Christians are to allow Josh to make fun of their Saviour whilst making a buck at their expense.