Chris Rock, Conan O'Brien, and the Pope Walk Into a Bar...

Or rather, the Vatican, as pontiff hosts 100-plus comedians to celebrate the importance of humor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 14, 2024 8:45 AM CDT
Chris Rock, Conan O'Brien, and the Pope Walk Into a Bar...
Whoopi Goldberg is interviewed after an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday. Pope Francis is meeting with more than 100 comedians from 15 countries, aiming to establish a link between the Catholic Church and comic artists.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Before flying to Italy's southern Puglia region to meet world leaders at the Group of Seven summit, Pope Francis hosted a very different audience at the Vatican on Friday to celebrate the importance of humor. The pontiff welcomed more than 100 comedians from 15 nations, including US celebrities Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Rock, Stephen Colbert, and Conan O'Brien. "In the midst of so much gloomy news, immersed as we are in many social and even personal emergencies, you have the power to spread peace and smiles," Francis told the comedians, per the AP. "You unite people, because laughter is contagious," he continued, asking jokingly, "Please pray for me: for, not against!"

Francis pointed out that in the world's creation, "divine wisdom practiced your art for the benefit of none other than God himself, the first spectator in history," with God delighting in the works that he'd made. "Remember this," the pontiff added. "When you manage to bring intelligent smiles to the lips of even a single spectator, you also make God smile." Francis also said it was OK to "laugh at God" in the same way "we play and joke with the people we love." After delivering his speech, Francis greeted all the comedians individually, sharing laughs and jokes with some of them. "It was great, it was very fast and really loving and made me happy," Goldberg said afterward.

O'Brien noted that the pope "spoke in Italian, so I'm not quite sure what was said." "To be in that room and to be with all my fellow comedians, some of whom I've been good friends with for many years, in that environment, was quite strange," he added. "All of us were thinking, how did this happen? Why are we here, and when are they going to throw us out?" Colbert admitted his own Italian "is really bad, I would like to speak it better." But he managed to remind the pope that he'd done the audiobook for Francis' memoir. "It was wonderful, he'll never forget me," he joked.

(More Pope Francis stories.)

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