Comedy final for Baptist minister
The Revd Allan Finnegan, minister of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Netherton, was one of eight finalists of the New Comedian of the Year 2015 at the Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green last week.
And although he didn’t win once at the final in London, he’s not unhappy with how things panned out. He made it to Bethnal Green after winning a heat in Wales and progressing through the northern final in Leeds.
‘I’m told that 300 people entered the competition,’ he says. ‘I don’t know where I finished, but I guess I was in the last eight. I did ok on the night. I was on after someone who didn’t do too well, which always makes it harder, but it was ok. The heats went really well, particularly the first one. I didn’t even realize I was in a competition – I only went down for a gig.’
Allan has been doing stand-up for around three years and is now gigging several times a week.
Comedy clubs are among the most atheistic places he’s been to, he explains where evangelical Christians, even Jesus, are ridiculed. But by being there Allan hopes to change perceptions of Christianity. His act focuses on his life as a minister.
‘The most common question I get asked is if I’m really a minister,’ he says. ‘I want to reach a different audience, one that doesn’t come to church.
‘It’s not evangelistic, it’s very low level, but hopefully I will leave some questions.’
‘There is an interest in faith,’ he continues. ‘They still know some of the big stories in the Bible; the Good Samaritan, Jesus feeding the 5,000. I find a lot of them have left church over some fall out or disagreement. There is a lot of searching. Lots of people are hungry for something.’
He became interested in the similarities between preaching and stand-up while a student at Northern Baptist College. In one seminar he was told that the days of traditional preaching were over.
‘A few days before I’d been at a gig with Peter Kay and an audience of 1,500 people. This is not a cultural oddity. It’s the way we do it. I challenged the thinking.’
As part of the course he asked to go on a comedy course so he could analyse the preaching and comedy, and found there was a lot of similarities.
He has been gigging ever since, with bookings increasing after a supportive tweet from up and coming comedian Joe Lycett.
There are several Christian comics on the circuit, but none to his knowledge who draw their material from being in a pastorate. He believes more ministers could try it.
‘I know it’s not for everyone, but preachers have all the tools to do this.’
Picture: The Liverpool Echo