Gagged! Your last chance to have a laugh at religion

Heard the one about the rabbi and the priest? Well, soon you might have to keep it to yourself. As MPs vote on whether to go ahead with a Bill that could outlaw religious jokes, we celebrate comedy's finest at their blasphemous best
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The Independent Online

BILL HICKS

"I think it's interesting how people act on their beliefs. A lot of Christians, for instance, wear crosses around their necks. Nice sentiment, but do you think when Jesus comes back, he's really going to want to look at a cross?

Ow! Maybe that's why he hasn't shown up yet. 'I'm not going, Dad. No, they're still wearing crosses - they totally missed the point'."

WOODY ALLEN

"If only God would give me some clear sign. Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank."

"Not only is there no God but try getting a plumber at the weekend."

"As the poet said: 'Only God can make a tree' - probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on."

EMO PHILIPS

"I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: 'Stop. Don't do it.'

'Why shouldn't I?' he asked. 'Well, there's so much to live for!' 'Like what?' 'Are you religious?'

He said: 'Yes.' I said. 'Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?' 'Christian.' 'Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?' 'Protestant.' 'Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?' 'Baptist.' 'Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?' 'Baptist Church of God.' 'Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?' 'Reformed Baptist Church of God.' 'Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?' He said: 'Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915.'

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off."

HENNY YOUNGMAN

"A car hits a Jewish man. The paramedic rushes over and says to the man: 'Are you comfortable?' The guy says: 'I make a good living'."

ROSEANNE BARR

"If I were Her what would really piss me off the worst is they cannot even get my gender right for Christsakes."

ALAN BENNETT

"Life, you know, is rather like opening a tin of sardines. We all of us are looking for the key. And I wonder how many of you here tonight have wasted years of your lives looking behind the kitchen dressers of this life for that key. I know I have. Others think they've found the key, don't they? They roll back the lid of the sardine tin of life. They reveal the sardines - the riches of life- therein, and they get them out, and they enjoy them. But, you know, there's always a little bit in the corner you can't get out. I wonder is there a little bit in the corner of your life? I know there is in mine."

MYRON COHEN

"A Jewish grandmother is watching her grandchild playing on the beach when a huge wave comes and takes him out to sea. She pleads: "Please God, save my only grandson. I beg of you, bring him back." And a big wave comes and washes the boy back on to the beach, good as new. She looks up to heaven and says: 'He had a hat.' "

MONTY PYTHON FROM LIFE OF BRIAN

"Ex Leper: 'Yes, sir, a bloody miracle, sir. God bless you.'

Brian: 'Who cured you?'

Ex Leper: 'Jesus did, sir. I was hopping along, minding my own business. All of a sudden, up here he comes. Cures me. One minute I'm a leper with a trade, next minute my livelihood's gone. Not so much as by your leave.' 'You're cured mate.' Bloody do-gooder."

FROM THE MEANING OF LIFE

"Every sperm is sacred,

Every sperm is great.

If a sperm is wasted,

God gets quite irate."

JERRY SEINFELD

"Jerry: 'I wanted to talk to you about Dr Whatley. I have a suspicion that he's converted to Judaism just for the jokes.'

Father: 'And this offends you as a Jewish person.'

Jerry: 'No, it offends me as a comedian.'

DAVE ALLEN

"So the priest is talking to the minister, and he's complaining that someone's stolen his bicycle. The minister replies, 'Well, I've had things go missing too. What I always do is to give a sermon on the Ten Commandments, and really lay into 'thou shalt not steal'. Usually, the item just turns up by Tuesday.' The priest agrees, and they go their separate ways.

The next week, the minister meets the priest again, and asks whether he got the bike back. 'Oh, yes! I did just what you said, and when I got to the bit about coveting thy neighbour's wife, I remembered just where I'd left it!' "

FATHER TED

"Father Jack Hackett: 'Drink! Feck! Arse! Girls!'

Father Ted: 'What was it he used to say about the needy? He had a term for them ...

Father Dougal: 'A shower of bastards?'

Father Ted: 'It's fabulous being a priest - think of all that comfort you bring to the sick and dying. They love it, they can't get enough of it!"

SHAZIA MIRZA

"Last year I went to Mecca to repent my sins, and I had to walk around the Black Stone. All the women were dressed in black, you could only see their eyes. And I felt a hand touch my bottom. I ignored it. I thought, 'I'm in Mecca - it must be the hand of God'. But then it happened again. I didn't complain. Clearly, my prayers had been answered."

PAMELA STEPHENSON IN 'THE AYATOLLAH SONG'

"There's a man in Iran, that I can't resist. Much revered, kinda weird. Got this chick in a twist."

BILL MAHER

"I was raised half-Jewish and half-Catholic. When I'd go to confession, I'd say: 'Bless me, father, for I have sinned - and you know my attorney, Mr Cohen?'"

DENIS LEARY

"Guns are so plentiful in this country. Every week there's a nut on a roof with a rifle and a grudge to settle. I used to get worried whenever Gorbachev visited America. He's got the bullseye right on his head. It would be easy to get off in court. 'I'm sorry, your honour, but I thought it was a sign from God'."

LENNY BRUCE

"If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses."

ROWAN ATKINSON IN BLACKADDER

"Bad weather is God's way of telling us we should burn more Catholics."

ALI G IN CONVERSATION WITH THE BISHOP OF CORSHAM

"Ali: 'Jesus. Does he really have a beard?'

Bish: 'Not necessarily.'

Ali: ''Is he man or a woman?

Bish: 'He's neither a man nor woman.'

Ali: 'Wot? You mean he's a ladyman'."