“Religion is bullshit,” says George Carlin, a theological position that comedians from Ricky Gervais to Lewis Black to Eddie Izzard might agree with. Questioning commonly held beliefs is built into the operating system of many comics, but not all of them are godless heathens. Here are five comedians who are vocal about their relationship with Jesus…
Schneider has been making the rounds thanks to his new relationship with religion, sharing the news with everyone from the Christian Post to Glenn Beck. On his birthday last October, he shared this post celebrating his status as a “new convert to Catholicism.”
It’s an odd post, with Schneider offering Christ’s forgiveness to his fellow man before laying out his laundry list of grievances against schools closed during COVID, vaccination requirements and entertainers who have severed their friendships with the comic over political differences.
Early on, Holmes planned to become a youth pastor. But when his wife left him for another man, that belief in God fell apart. “I felt like the Lord hadn’t held up His end of the bargain,” Holmes writes in his memoir, Comedy, Sex, God, “and I was pissed.”
These days, Holmes has rediscovered spirituality, as he shared with Stephen Colbert: “Comedy and faith are intertwined because it puts distance between us and what is happening. Our boy JC (that’s Jesus Christ, folks) said, ‘Who gains a minute of his life by worrying?’ So to me, joking reminds us that nothing essential to us is out there so let's laugh at it. Because who you really are was never born, will never die and can't be harmed so everything can be made fun of.”
The irreverent Macdonald was surprisingly vocal about his faith if you caught him on the right day. As a judge on Last Comic Standing, he called out one aspiring comedian for trashing the Bible and singing the praises of Harry Potter. “If you’re going to take on an entire religion, you should maybe know what you’re talking about,” Macdonald scolded. “J.K. Rowling is a Christian, and J.K. Rowling famously said that if you’re familiar with the scriptures, you could easily guess the ending of her book.”
Near the end of his life, Macdonald told Larry King, “I’m a Christian. It’s not stylish to say that now.” When King confessed that he couldn’t bring himself to believe in a higher power due to all the evil in the world, the comic replied, “It sounds like you have a God-shaped hole in your heart.”
Like Holmes, Colbert started out religious (he was raised Catholic), turned to atheism and then found his way back to Jesus. The aha moment? Twenty-two-year-old Colbert was standing on a cold street corner in Chicago when a man gave him a mini-copy of the New Testament. The struggling comic looked up “anxiety” in the book’s index and turned to the first passage.
“It was Matthew, Chapter Five, it was the sermon, ‘And so I say to you, do not worry, for who among you by worrying can change a single hair on his head or add a cubit to the span of his life?’ And I was absolutely, immediately lightened,” Colbert told America — The Jesuit Review. “For the first time, I understood the real meaning of the phrase, ‘It spoke to me.’ Like it read off the page, the words of Christ read off the page.”
He stood there on the street corner reading the entire Sermon on the Mount. “My life has never been the same,” he says.
Gaffigan has never been shy about his Catholicism, a regular theme in his stand-up comedy.
“As a comedian, I never thought I would be religious. I lived across from a Catholic church for 15 years and never went in, then I met a woman in a bodega down the block, got married in that same church and had all our kids baptized there,” he told Deseret News. “The most rebellious thing I can do in the entertainment industry is be Catholic. I’m kidding, but the stand-up world is completely agnostic. I was raised Catholic, but never got into it until about 15 years ago. It sounds corny, but I wanted to believe in the notion of mercy, that you could be so imperfect and still embrace faith.”