Back in the summer of 2006 I made the final of the Funny Women Awards, coming third. The judges were divided, apparently. Some hated my set, some loved it, some were nonplussed – pretty much the usual reactions. One judge expressed an interest in having me on a Paramount Comedy stand-up show that went out over three continents. This was a huge opportunity career-wise but also a great personal achievement. I had gone to watch this show live shortly before I started out in comedy and had sat in the crowd wondering whether I could ever get to be on it.
The judge told me he would have to see me live a couple more times before it was concrete, understandable enough as the show was several months down the line and things can change. Comedian Christina Martin's page from New Humanist July/August 2007

They did. Sometime after the awards I added a new joke to the act. It goes like this:
“A funny thing happened to me on the way here. This woman came up to me and she said ‘Will you let Jesus Christ into your heart today?’ And I said –’No … if he fancies me, he should ask me himself. We’re not at school.’ “

Then, if it’s working, and the mood is right, it can go on like this:
“… And credit to him, he did! He stepped up, like a man, and asked me himself. I had to turn him down unfortunately. Don’t feel too sorry for him, this story is made up. Just like Jesus. But let’s pretend the story and Jesus actually happened. OK. So he stepped up and asked me himself. I said no. Couple of reasons: first of all, the fact that he died for my sins, now you’d think that would be a plus point, wouldn’t you, ladies? But it’s not, is it? All it would do was to put him ahead in every argument, from the get-go. He’d just be dragging it up, like an affair. Secondly, Jesus, by virtue of his omniscience, has been an eyewitness to all the criminal acts in the history of mankind, and he doesn’t seem to be phoning the police. Now, legally speaking, that does make him an accomplice. Like Maxine Carr.”

If I’m getting laughs at this point I might continue: “No, no, noooo! I’m not saying he’s as bad as Maxine Carr. That would be wrong. Very wrong. He’s worse. For she knew not what she did, but he do know what he do, doesn’t he? Yeah, bit of a hypocrite. Don’t like that in a man.”

Ever since I first tried it out, this joke has been in my routine. It gets the right kind of reaction – very divisive and genuine, whether it be a gut laugh or real shock. Some of my reviews said I was “deeply offensive”. So of course I added that to the act too:

“I got reviewed recently and that joke was deemed deeply offensive. What do you think? I disagree. I mean, Jesus is here right now, isn’t he? He hasn’t paid to get in. Another perk there. He does that a lot, it’s not on really. Anyway, he’s here and if I was saying anything out of line he’d set me straight. So, Jesus, are you worse than Maxine Carr? Say now if you’re not … [silence] … Out of his own mouth!”

Now I use this joke as my opening gambit. It prepares people for a follow-up joke wherein I pursue the light-hearted subject of getting AIDS on purpose:

“So, I know what you’re thinking … what’s the Pope been up to? Quite a lot is the answer, cheeky little monkey that he is. To be honest I don’t get on with him. I think he’s taken the whole God thing a bit far. It was funny to start off with, now it’s just tedious. Have a hobby by all means, but … anyway, credit where it’s due, he has changed his stance on condoms. You can use them now. Yeah, that’s a big step for the Catholic Church. But don’t get too excited, there are a couple of stipulations. First, it must be in the course of a heterosexual relationship. Obviously, can’t have gay people protecting themselves from a slow painful death now, can we? And secondly, one of you must have AIDS … yeah. Hmm, now I’ve just got a new boyfriend. Neither of us has got AIDS. It’s a problem. One of us will have to get it. Pope’s orders! I say toss for it, to be fair, then the loser can trawl the streets and hopefully at that point we can have some of that safe sex we’ve been so looking forward to.”

So one night after the act the Paramount guy came backstage. He said he liked the set, but he’d have to run a transcript past the lawyers as it could cause offence to Christians. Hard to believe, I know, but apparently it did. The show has long since been filmed and, as far as I remember, I wasn’t on it.

Of course, part of me is revelling in the whole “too hot for TV” thing, but the other part is a little put out that the views of one group of people trump my views and stop me from being heard.

In a society where the free flow of opinion is supposed to be valued I find this a little – what could I call it? – offensive.