Lee & Herring Press
TMWRNJ "JESUS" COMPLAINTA man wrote to TMWRNJ's producer to say:
I understand that you were responsible for the programme transmitted at 6.25pm last Friday portraying Jesus as a brainless, bumbling wimp. Would you please advise me whether you propose doing a skit with Mohammed and his followers as complete morons, or would that be deemed to offend race relations, or could you not devise a scenario where you would perceive that to be funny?
Thanks for your letter. As co-writer of the piece which annoyed you I thought I'd take the time to answer your queries. You asked "Would you advise me whether you propose doing a skit with Mohammed and his followers as complete morons, or would that be deemed to offend race relations, or could you work out a scenario where you would perceive that to be funny." Here's why I wouldn't write something about Mohammed.
You write about what you know about. I was raised as a Christian, went to a church school, sang in a church choir and did A-Level RS, so I know my way around the New Testament, and know the bits of it that I find funny. I don't know anything about the teachings of Mohammed, so I wouldn't feel qualified or entitled to address them in any way. That said, I saw a black American stand-up in Canada last year doing a great routine about being brought up in a Muslim household, and I was able to laugh as well as be educated at the same time.
As Britain becomes a more multi-cultural society, I can imagine that one day I will know enough about other religions to be able to write stuff about them, and this is a day I look forward to. Thus, I can perceive of a situation where stuff about Mohammed would be funny, and indeed I've seen it done to hilarious effect, but I don't think I have the necessary knowledge to do it. The tone of your letter seems to imagine there is some PC mafia preventing us from doing stuff about Mohammed, but as you can see, the reasons are rather more mundane.
Also, the show is on a relatively tight budget for its length, so we are able to film ten Jesus things in a day using the same costumes and sets, which makes economic sense for the series. It would have been impractical to switch to doing other prophets halfway through, and also, as yet, there isn't enough across the board familiarity in Britain with their teachings to ensure the general recognition factor that comedy requires. I hope this answers your query and that you'll be able to enjoy the rest of the series.
p.s I don't think I portrayed Jesus as either brainless or a wimp. Indeed, I thought I looked rather fetching in the gear.