Comedian is crucified over Easter TV stunt

By Dan Goldberg, April 14, 2009
No laughing matter: wearing a Monty Python-style wig, John Safran is nailed to a cross in Manila

No laughing matter: wearing a Monty Python-style wig, John Safran is nailed to a cross in Manila

An award-wining Australian Jewish comedian is the centre of controversy after being crucified in the Philippines on Good Friday for a new TV show.

John Safran, 36, was one of several people who were nailed to a cross near Manila as part of the ritual symbolising the suffering of Jesus at Easter.

Photographs clearly show the man — who identified himself as John Michaels — to be the TV funnyman who has built his reputation on outlandish stunts and who has been likened to Britain’s Sacha Baron Cohen.

He graduated from Yeshiva College, an Orthodox boys-only school in Melbourne.

Naked from the waist up and wearing a long-haired Monty Python-style wig and giant crucifix around his neck, Safran was heard moaning as the nails were hammered through his skin and into the giant cross. He was afterwards rushed to a medical tent.

But when the purpose of Safran’s participation was revealed, he was threatened with deportation and forced to sign an affidavit pledging not to screen the footage.

Buboy Dionisio, who was nailed to the cross alongside Safran, said the Australian had told them he was filming for a documentary . “He never told us he wanted to make a show that would say funny things about our religion and that it would be anti-Christ.”

Father Gary Rawson, the dean of Ashfield Canterbury Deanery in Sydney, said: “I wouldn’t be encouraging anyone to do that. I’m not so sure the church would be encouraging anyone to actually nail themselves. That’s excruciating pain and harmful to the body. If we indulge in self-harm that is wrong.”

Safran had said he wanted to be “reborn”, according to the Philippine Star newspaper.

Speaking under his pseudonym, the prankster had claimed that the experience made him realise that “Christ is true.

“I felt a little sting when I was nailed and I imagined that Christ suffered more when He was on the cross. He suffered more than a hundredfold than me.”

Last updated: 11:41am, April 16 2009