Tim Minchin recently recorded a song comparing Jesus to Woody Allen (“short, Jewish, philosophical, a bit hesitant”) for the Jonathan Ross Show on ITV.
It’s hilarious and worth a watch:
The problem is that after that song was taped, the director of television for ITV, Peter Fincham, stopped it from going on the air. He didn’t want to offend anyone, you know, what with the song being humorous and all…
So Minchin put the song online along with the following breakdown of what happened:
I really like Jonathan Ross. I think he’s a funny, interesting, kind person, and an excellent interviewer. I also really like his wife… But let’s not get back into that.
Jonathan and his wonderful producer, Suzi, have been incredibly supportive of me and so when they asked me to write a song for their pre-Christmas show, I didn’t hesitate. It was the worst possible time to be writing a new song — I’ve been overworked and ill, was on tour, and was really feeling the stress. But I wasn’t going to say no… it’s Jonathan Ross! And my fellow guests were to be Tom Cruise, the divine actors from Downton Abbey, and the ace In-Betweeners boys.
So I got to writing. Being Christmas, I thought it would be fun to do a song about Jesus, but being TV, I knew it would have to be gentle. The idea was to compare him to Woody Allen (short, Jewish, philosophical, a bit hesitant), and expand into redefining his other alleged attributes using modern, popular-culture terminology.
It’s not a particularly original idea, I admit, but it’s quite cute. It’s certainly not very contentious, but even so, compliance people and producers and lawyers all checked my lyrics long before the cameras rolled. As always with these bespoke writing jobs, I was really stressed for about 3 days, and almost chucked it in the bin 5 times, and freaked out that it wasn’t funny and all that boring shit that people like me go through when we’re lucky enough to have with a big audience with high expectations. And if I’m honest, it ain’t a world-changing bit of comedy. Regardless…
On Tuesday night last week, we taped the show. I met Tom (he’s nice and quite laid-back off camera, and not very short) and the divine Downton ladies (swoon) and the lovely In-Betweeners chaps (yay) and I did my song and everyone laughed and Tom said it was great and when it was done I ran off set onto the back of a waiting motorbike, got from South Bank to the Hammersmith Apollo in 13 minutes, walked into the building, straight on to stage to sing White Wine in the Sun with Professor Brian Cox. Rock n roll.
Subsequently, Suzi and her team edited the show and everybody was happy. Suzi felt it had a nice balance of big-ticket celeb action, local talent, and a nice bit of that cheeky, iconoclastic spirit for which Jonathan is known and widely loved.
And then someone got nervous and sent the tape to ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham.
And Peter Fincham demanded that I be cut from the show.
He did this because he’s scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way.
Yesterday I wrote a big rant about comedy and risk and conservatism; about the fact that my joke has no victim; about sacredness (oh God, not again!) and about the importance of laughing at dumb but pervasive ideas. But I trashed it because it’s boring and takes it all too seriously. It’s hardly the end of the world.
But I have to admit I’m really fucking disappointed.
It’s 2011. The appropriate reaction to people who think Jesus is a supernatural being is mild embarrassment, sighing tolerance and patient education.
And anger when they’re being bigots.
Oh, and satire. There’s always satire.
Anywaaaaaaaaaay… the fun news is that I already had the footage of the song when they cut it. Yay. And so you can decide for yourself how offensive it is! Yippee.
I hope you enjoy my silly, harmless, accurate song of praise, “Woody Allen Jesus”.
And I hope you all have wonderful Christmases.
What can you do? Stick it to Fincham. Spread the song far and wide and give it a far greater viewership than it would’ve had by only appearing on television. If you’re Christian, realize that this is all in good fun and send it to your pastor.
Just FYI, Jonathan Ross says he had nothing to do with this: