Billy Connolly: windswept, interesting, and unwittingly a theologian?

Perry, A. J. (2022) Billy Connolly: windswept, interesting, and unwittingly a theologian? Masters theses, University of Chichester.

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This dissertation explores the relationship between comedy and theology, principally with regard to one of the world’s longest serving and perhaps best known comedians, Billy Connolly, and it will contend that Connolly can be considered as an unintentional theologian. The development of the understanding of both comedy and theology will be explored, as will the historically difficult relationship between the two. Although theology is clearly not Connolly’s prime aim in creating and delivering his material there is much that comedy and theology share in terms of their common functions. This study will look at seven suggested common functions of comedy and theology: the ability to reduce stress (to make frightening things seem more manageable, to serve justice and keep power in check); the offer of eschatological hope (that things can change both in the present as well as future); the consideration of existential issues (to help give meaning, to cope with paradox, to challenge stereotypes and assumptions); as an antidote to hubris (the fostering of a realistic self image, acknowledgement of frailty and failure); dealing with concerns of truth (the naming of oppression/oppressors, speaking the unspeakable); the offer of inclusivity (tragedy is exclusive while comedy is inclusive, comedy is about the ordinary and everyday); and transformation (the common is celebrated and raised, the difference between holy and profane is challenged).
Three of Connolly’s published recordings will form the basis of the comparison. These are respectively from the beginning, middle and end of his stand up career, and it will be noted that any artistic form, once released, becomes open to interpretation - which might be very different from the original intention of the composer, whether that is a painting, a novel, a piece of music or a stand up routine.
Connolly may describe himself as a poet, but, I will argue, his words and actions are also those of a prophet, an artist, and even - unintentionally - a theologian.

Publication Type: Theses (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Religion, Comedy, Existentialism, Eschatology, Morality
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1560 Performing arts. Show business
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > Theology, Philosophy and Religion
Student Research > Masters
Depositing User: Janet Carter
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2024 15:30
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 15:30

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