It’s no joke – rabbi turned comedian for a night would like to go on tour


A rabbi who took a crash-course to perform a one-off gig as a stand-up comedian says he might have found a new calling.

Rabbi Alex Chapper, who is minister at Ilford Federation Synagogue in east London, said he was already looking forward to his next performance after joining a vicar and an imam for a special comedy evening at the JW3 community centre.

“I’d do it again,” he said. “There’s been talk of us three going on tour, and all of us are open to the idea. A lot of people were coming up to us afterwards saying that we should do it again.

He said the experience was different from delivering sermons to his congregation, not least because he could not see his 170-strong audience..

“They were in darkness, and I had a spotlight in my face. I couldn’t see their reactions, but I could hear them laughing - plenty of laughter, from plenty of home support.”

The evening proved that comedy could be a unifying force, he said.

“There was an underlying message, that comedy can unite us, all three faiths. There was a tremendous feeling of togetherness.

“Even though it was a predominantly Jewish crowd, there were also Christians and Muslims, and it was a lovely relaxed atmosphere. The laughter brought people closer.”

And the rabbi, who prepared with two training sessions from a professional comedian, said many of the jokes made by the different faith leaders was similar.

“We all spoke from our own perspectives, but we all share the same issues, like dealing with difficult people who want to monopolise your time and are unaware there’s anyone else around. That was very uplifting.”

Rabbi Chapper said one of the biggest laughs he got was for a joke which involved all three ministers.

“It’s not been easy for Muslims and Jews recently,” he told the crowd. “But on the plus side, a recently published study said that it’s bad for you to eat bacon. When she heard the news, the poor vicar almost spat out her bacon sandwich. She can only eat fish balls from now on.”

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