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Comedians, including Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock and Jimmy Fallon, with Pope Francis (Vatican Media)

As they waited for Pope Francis to arrive at the Clementine Hall in the Vatican Apostolic Palace for an early morning audience, late-night comedy stars looked at each other and thought, “something’s wrong”. Source: CNS.

“We’re in this beautiful, beautiful space in the Vatican and for some reason they’ve let comedians in, which is always a mistake,” comedian Conan O’Brien told reporters after meeting the Pope on Friday.

He was one of 105 comedians from around the world who travelled to the Vatican for a papal audience and to “establish a link between the Catholic Church and comic artists,” according to the Dicastery for Culture and Education, which organised the meeting.

Comedians included Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Whoopi Goldberg and Jim Gaffigan. 

Before Pope Francis entered the room, Fallon stood in front of the Pope’s chair and was cracking jokes to the entertainment of his peers. But once Pope Francis entered, they all took to their feet to applaud. Several stars, accustomed to being in front of the cameras, held out their phones to record the Pope walking steadily to his seat. 

And immediately Pope Francis cracked a joke, saying that since smiling is good for one’s health, it would be better for him to just make a funny face for the crowd rather than to read his lengthy speech.

Yet he told the comedians that “in the midst of so much gloomy news, immersed as we are in many social and even personal emergencies, you have the power to spread peace and smiles.”

“You are among the few who have the ability to speak to all types of people, from different generations and cultural backgrounds,” he said.

The Pope highlighted the unique role of laughter in bringing people together in the face of conflict, stressing that humour “is never against anyone, but is always inclusive, purposeful, eliciting openness, sympathy, empathy.”

He also encouraged them to remember a prayer often attributed to St Thomas More, which he said he prays every day: “Grant me, O Lord, a good sense of humour.”


Pope swaps jokes with comedy stars at Vatican (By Justin McLellan, CNS)