There are already a lot of podcasts on the topic of comedy plus a whole bunch on the topic of religion. But The Comical Heathen is the only podcast on this specific topic: religious satire. I started studying satire a few years ago when I noticed that there seemed to be an increase in religious satire following September 11. I observed that some comedians were using the tools of comedy to process the attacks, and in some cases to fight back. Some corners of stand up comedy seemed to be going out of their way to respond to religious extremism with rationality and wit. Comedians like Bill Maher, Eddie Izzard, and Marc Maron, among others, seemed to be part of a broader movement that has since been labeled the New Atheism. Joining the voices of noted intellectuals such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens some comedians or comic writers using their using their skills and talents and humour to address the place of religion in post September 11 culture. And of course religious satire obviously predates September 11, it goes back thousands of years to the Greeks, found in writers such as Aristophanes and Shakespeare. But my focus is on the role of comedy and stand up comedy in this post September 11 world of new atheism.
Meanwhile, while researching the themes and examples of this book, I myself am also a stand up comedian. I travel and perform in clubs and venues around the country. I finally realized that through my experiences doing stand up comedy, I actually meet with and interact with a lot of comedians and maybe it would be useful for my book to interview some of them! Well, if I’m going to interview these interesting people on this interesting topic I bet that if I recorded some of these conversations that other people might find them interesting or rewarding to listen to. And that is the journey that leads us to this podcast The Comical Heathen.