As part of the 2016 Sydney Comedy Festival, Factory Theatre gave us The Gospel of Greg – an irreverent, blasphemous and totally hilarious exploration into religion.The show followed a boy (Harry Plumptre) as he asked some sticky questions and got some silly answers from his father (Harry Licence) and an unqualified priest called Greg (Josh Wooller).
Early on, Plumptre’s character posed a question that was obviously a line meant for much later in the show. Licence’s very deliberate “I think you mean to ask…” and Plumptre’s finger guns reply (think the wiggles) had the audience giggling at the cock up as the guys did their best to hold it together.
Memorable recurring characters included Jesus who was impressively self-aware (“no one is going to believe a guy who claims to be his own father”) and a flamboyant, touchy-feely-no-appreciation-for-personal-space Judas who had misinterpreted Jesus’ declaration of love (we’ve all been there).
We also found out why the world is so fucked up. After a 6000 year sleep in, God wakes up and is given a tour by one of his angels and immediately discovers AIDS (“Oh no!”) and is told it’s running rampant in the gay community (“Oh… you know what… let’s let this one slide”).
The songs, performed by Licence on guitar, were definite highlights. We had ‘Brojob’ to explain away the father’s special relationship with a male neighbour (“it’s like a hug that you give to your bro, except you use your hand and you use it down low”) and ‘Jesus was not a racist’ (“apartheid in South Africa bad luck there, you should have been born a white millionaire”). The Notorious G.O.D.,Muhammad, and Buddha also made rap battle appearances.
Although the focus was on Christianity, Islam definitely copped it when Mohammed (Plumptre) angrily declared his own rules. This section was a little uncomfortable – imagine the scene in A Beautiful Mind where maths flies around the room but it’s happening in my head and it’s a calculation about whether or not it’s ethical to laugh at three white guys poking fun at a somewhat straw-man version of Islam.
Everyone else seemed to love it though and if comedians don’t make us squirm, then we might as well be at home listening to Hamish & Andy (sorry Ham and Andy, love you guys but you’re sort of political pussies).
The theatre, a repurposed shipping container, was very intimate (that means small) and props were so half-assed that they’d all come off or fallen apart by the end. But that didn’t matter. The wide range of genuinely well-played characters made for an impressive foray into religious satire – one of the most competitive events in the comedy Olympics. It was pretty clear we were watching a bunch of talented mates having a fantastic time and the audience couldn’t help but get caught up in the fun.
I rate it three wise men.