“If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s the creeping commercialization of secular Christmas shows,” says Stewart Lee, one of 17 acts on this audio recording of 10 Lessons and Carols for Godless People. This is, of course, the 2010 edition of Robin Ince’s secular Christmas show. While 9 Lessons and Carols for Godless People and More 9 Lessons and Carols for Godless People come on DVD, this year’s comes as a 2-disc audio recording, which you can purchase from Go Faster Stripe.
This bizarre variety show is both accessible to the unscientific mind, with standup comics like Josie Long, Ed Byrne, and Jo Neary, and comfortable enough for the religious. Coordinator Robin Ince goes out of his way to explain this isn’t an evening about bashing religion but instead a celebration of science and wonder. In previous years, some of the acts have ignored this and talked about how horrible religion is, but this year, even Ince–in a crankier mood than usual due to dental surgery–says, “You know what, religion is a good idea. I mean it’s ridiculous, I know that…” which sets the stage for Richard Herring to talk about how he applied to be Pope, Adam Rutherford’s support of the Alpha course on the premise that it will turn people off religion, Mitch Benn’s rewrite of the Moses/Isaac story, Stewart Lee’s claim that Richard Dawkins make him religious because nothing as amazing and complex as Richard Dawkins could have evolved by chance, and Al Murray’s best joke of the night: “Jesus was a carpenter because he disappeared off the face of the earth for three days with no explanation!”
But that’s not to say it’s all cheap rips on Catholicism. We have the brilliant Simon Singh who answers five questions in five minutes as tribute to the first five minutes of the universe, Robin Ince reading from What Do You Care What Other People Think by Richard Feynman, Ben Goldacre’s revenge of Gillian McKeith’s unscientific nonsense, and Matt Parker analyzing data if you’re into that kind of thing. Granted, some of this is missing context with audio-only availability.
Last but certainly not least is a whopping nine musical acts, and that’s not even counting the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra providing the overtures. There are related science and Christmas songs like Unreachable Stars by Jim Bob, Nick Doody’s song about making a hat for Jesus, and Mitch Benn’s song about the true meaning of Christmas, which brings to mind the sound and style of Steven Page. Then there are miscellaneous silly songs from Helen Arney and Robyn Hitchcock. And what show would be complete without a salute to literature in Baba Brinkman’s surprisingly insightful Beowulf rap.
This 2-CD set is 158 minutes long and is just 12 pounds on Go Faster Stripe. As it is a CD, yes it will play on any CD player or disc drive.
Jaime Pond is the editor of Anglonerd. She lives and works in NYC. Follow her on Twitter.
Originally posted August 19, 2015