Frank Skinner - A Comedian's Prayer Book
Hodder Faith Hardback 106pp £9.99
Comedy and prayer might seem unlikely words to use in the same sentence, but stand-up comedian, author and broadcaster Frank Skinner begs to differ. The Perrier-award winning funny man has had a highly successful entertainment career over the last 35 years or so, enjoying considerable acclaim for his amiable live shows, fronting hit TV series like Room 101 and increasingly commanding huge audiences for his Absolute Radio shows and popular podcasts.
He’s also been refreshingly public, as a returning Catholic, about his rediscovery of a personal faith in God, and his willingness to talk about it on radio and TV and with his comedy compadres, more commonly seen as agnostic at best, or atheist evangelists at worst. As he says in this slim volume’s introduction “the religious believers I’ve met among my fellow japesters would, if assembled, just about fill a Vauxhall Corsa”.
It’s been quite a journey for Skinner, who was something of a magnet in the 90s for the football, beer and sex lads’ culture, which led to battling his own demons, particularly with alcoholism. These days he’s a devoted family man, and dedicates his book to his son Buzz “who trails more ‘clouds of glory’ than anyone I know”.
So what is the book? It’s not a prayer book as you might understand the term, first of all. There aren’t particularly tips on prayer, prayers you can pray, or theological explorations of the ins and outs of prayer.
There are, however, a series of conversational insights into the author’s relationship with his Creator. The reader eavesdrops on the kind of chat Skinner has with God. As he explains on the back cover “I’ve taken my convictions, my questions, my fears, my doubts, my elations and presented them in what I think is an eavesdropper-friendly form. Hell, judgement, atheism, money, faith and the X-Men all feature. It’s a bit like reading the Bible, except you only get one side of the conversation and all the jokes are left in.”
That sums it up pretty well. I found plenty that made me laugh, lots that made me nod in agreement, plenty that I quibbled with, and one or two insights that really made me think. The good thing is that while it’s not a book that every Christian will get on with, it’s much more likely to be picked up by those who like Skinner and are curious, but not necessarily believers.
And if it means a few more non-believers give prayer a go, then there’s fertile ground for the Holy Spirit to work.
Russ Bravo is editor of Inspire, and would be more than happy for Frank Skinner to come and gig at his comedy club.