The Big Questions: Paul Kerensa
Paul Kerensa is an English comedy writer and stand-up comedian. Paul has won various awards for his humour, such as ITV's 'Take the Mike' Award, and was a finalist in the BBC's New Comedy Awards and The Daily Telegraph's Open Mic Awards.
In addition to regularly contributing to BBC Radio 2's Pause for Thought segments, and British sitcom, 'Miranda', Paul is most recently writing for Chris Evans for Top Gear.
Find below Paul's answers to some of our questions!
Name: Paul Kerensa. That’s my stagename? Paul Young. 80s pop star got there first, so I’ve had to change mine (he wouldn’t change his - will he laid his hat on that one a long time ago)
Selfie in words: I have a face. That appears in most selfies I guess. I have no bellybutton (that doesn’t appear in selfies, but I don’t have one and it does rather define me). I was born with inside bits on the outside, so when they started fixing that fairly swiftly, the bellybutton was the first thing to vanish. It meant many weeks and months and operations and hospital visits in my early years, which I’ve largely forgotten, so my poor parents suffered more than me. I was told I couldn’t have kids, yet somehow I do, so that was a nice surprise (or two). It makes life very busy, as I’m a father, husband, stand-up, writer, author, occasional broadcaster, script editor, podcaster, blogger, oh and Christian, should have mentioned that. When not doing any of that, I’m also a film fan, but nowadays that means Frozen. Again.
What’s your Faith background? I grew up in an Anglican church, went to uni to study Theology (not to be a vicar - just because I was interested in it), then spent all 3 uni years touring Nottingham’s churches but not settling anywhere. If anything I settled in the theatre. I spent about a decade then with my home church being my home church, but doing stand-up on the road most weekends, so exploring the many diverse churches I could find. It meant trying Methodist, Baptist, Quaker, Evangelical, and Salvation Army… Any building with a cross on top, I’d go in. Sometimes it was a church, sometimes it was a pharmacy. Inevitably I turned these nomadic church-hopping experiences into a book - and I think it’s that book (So a Comedian Walks into a Church) that got the attention of radio bods, leading to Radio 2’s Pause For Thought, and generally outing me to the media industry as a comedian who’s also a Christian.
Unusual talent? Apart from the aforementioned no bellybutton (and being unafraid to whip it out at parties), my other party trick is reciting an obscure Monty Python sketch about supposed German composer Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumble-meyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitzweimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönendanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm… whose name I committed to memory at the age of 13, and it won’t budge since.
Three things still on your Bucket list: The usual boring things you don’t know want to know about: travel here, visit there…I don’t want to snorkel with dolphins or bungee-jump or any of that stuff. In fact avoiding those things is definitely on my bucket list.
Any strange phobias? Spiders, but that’s not a phobia as it’s entirely rational. Have you seen the speed they move? With eight legs!
From across all history which three people would you invite for dinner and why? Jesus (obvs), Shakespeare (obvs) and Paul Winchell, who voiced Tigger and Dick Dastardly and invented the artificial heart with Dr Heimlich of the Heimlich Manoeuvre. True!
What keeps you believing in God? Every time I think about not believing, life/fate/destiny throws in a curve-ball that’s so coincidental that I can’t not. Plus He’s been there for me through thick and thin and all the bits in between.
Who has inspired you most on your faith journey and why? My former vicar David Bracewell was a powerhouse preacher with the soft lilt of Alan Titchmarsh. Every sermon left me pondering for 6 days, before the next wisdom injection. Since he retired? Probably Stormzy.
What springs to mind when you think of Methodists? The oh-so-welcoming chapel in Cornwall we visited one Easter holiday. So warm. So lovely. We were expecting our first (miracle) baby. The hymns were sung to a CD player. The minister said she hoped we'd have organ music by the end of the service, if lovely Joseph could cycle down the hill in time from playing at the other church. The regulars clearly melted at the sound of his name. He never made it in time, so my wife and I left quickly because we didn’t want to see whether Joseph was a kindly old gent or a sweet young boy. We realised the name worked equally well for both - so when our wonder-baby was born… well you know the rest.
What’s your advice for the church in 2018? Don’t listen to a comedian for advice, that’s my main advice. Oh, and secondary to that: the media isn’t your enemy… just as I tell the media that the church isn’t their enemy either. Both sides have a lot more in common than either think, so let’s talk.