A YORK vicar is hoping to have them rolling in the aisles when he swaps sermons for stand-up.

The Rev Ned Lunn, the new curate at St Stephen’s and St Aidan’s Parish Church in Acomb, is to be put through his comic paces by showcasing his ministry of mirth at a Christmas-themed improvisation show.

The funnyman of the cloth, who ran his own London theatre company with a friend before entering the church, likens his priestly duties to “a rehearsal room” and says his stage background means he’s ready to deal with any heckling when he plays his part in the Riding Lights Theatre Company’s show, Right Here Right Now, in York next month.

He said: “I have always preferred to preach without a script, but at least I have an idea in advance of the topics I am going to address.

“Right Here Right Now is very different and pretty daunting. The audience offer up suggestions and we will improvise some festive comedy.

“It is our version of the brilliant show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, with slapstick, music and puppetry.”

Mr Lunn said he realised he had a religious calling while attending Riding Lights’ annual residential summer theatre school, and believes the church can be compared to the world of theatre. “Vulnerability is accepted and protected, people’s inner joys and fears are exposed and so much healing can take place,” he said. “And I enjoy dealing with hecklers – it shows people are listening and fully engaged, and the most valuable communication is a two-way dialogue.

“However, I wouldn’t suggest that people shout out too many cues to me in church, because they’d end up with a far longer sermon than they’d bargained for.”

Mr Lunn will be focusing on gags rather than gospels when Right Here Right Now takes place at the Friargate Theatre in Lower Friargate on Thursday, December 20, starting at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £5 and are available by phoning the box office on 01904 613000, while more details are at ridinglights.org/right-here-right-now-3


Here’s our five suggestions for clerical comedy

Q How did Samson’s first night as a stand-up comedian go?

A He brought the house down.

Q What’s a Catholic priest’s favourite music show?

A Top of the Popes.

• Heard the one about the vicar who turned up at the wrong funeral? He made a grave mistake.

• Our local monastery’s just opened a fish and chip shop. It’s run by the fish friar and the chip monk.

Q What newspaper do vicars read?

A Pews of the World.