BBC Radio Four
I was pleasantly surprised by Marcus Brigstocke’s The Brig Society, my expectations were low and my enjoyment was high. This episode focused on religion; Brigstocke’s aim was to create his own based on ‘niceness’.
It was thirty minutes well spent; most of the jokes were laugh out loud funny, which was slightly embarrassing whilst stealing a Bruntsfield cafe’s wifi. Brigstocke’s ability to continuously joke about major religions without coming across as offensive was impressive. He balanced his critiquing of religion with jokes about atheists as well; mocking their image of themselves as people without idols, apart from Benedict Cumberbatch, of course.
The plot flowed well with the abundance of one-liners and mini-sketches. Brigstocke had clearly done his research due to the knowledgeable criticisms of the Old Testament and the Qur’an. Some Islam jokes were a bit close to the bone, however, Brigstocke’s equally critical stance on all religions discussed allowed him some leeway on this contentious issue.
The impressions were funny and current, they included Richard Dawkins, Paddy McGuinness and Bruce Forsyth. The impersonation of Dawkins was particularly funny and, in my mind, truthful of his attitude towards his work and social interactions; he, being cleverer than everyone else, had no need to be polite or empathetic to anyone, ever.
Not only was The Brig Society hilariously ruthless, it also raised thought provoking points about the prejudices within religion, the fragility of its structure and its place within society. The relevance of the Chinese whispers aspect of religion, the importance of a simple mistranslation or spelling mistake that causes believers to completely misunderstand the original point: Brigstocke’s misspelling of ‘gooder’ to ‘gouda’ in his own religion ultimately causes a schism that tears his followers apart within 27 minutes. Definitely worth 30 minutes of your life.