They are the Jolly Jokers of The Church of England in Lancashire; the English answer to Ireland’s Father Ted and his hapless sidekick Father Dougal.
And now Father Alex Frost and Rev Chris Krawiec, who moonlight as the 'Jack and Krac' comedy duo, are set to go ‘live’ with their first Christian Comedy Night in December!
Alex, Curate at St Matthew’s Church in Burnley, and Chris, Curate at St Bartholomew’s Church in Great Harwood, are already a ‘fixture’ on the comedy circuit, having a popular YouTube channel featuring raps and sketches written by the pair.
They even went viral last year with a special rap tribute to 2016’s The X Factor star, Honey G, which was featured on ‘The Xtra Factor’ after-show programme.
The duo also share a Twitter profile @jackandkrac
And now the funny clerics are hosting a Christian Christmas Comedy Night for everyone on Friday December 8 at St Matthew’s, BB11 4JJ.
It is, according to Alex, ‘an opportunity to invite friends and family, who perhaps don't usually come to church’.
As well as Jack and Krac themselves, the headline act on the evening will be well-known comedian Tony Vino, along with some other ‘up and coming’ names.
We caught up with the jolly duo recently at Costa Coffee in the Burnley Tesco to chat about their plans. They say they are appreciative of the support they have received from the wider church for their initiative. The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, and Archdeacon of Blackburn, The Venerable Mark Ireland, will be the guests of honour.
The two clergymen first met whilst on retreat at Whalley Abbey, prior to their ordination.
Alex, 48, a Burnley lad, used to perform comedy in pubs and clubs when he was younger as a semi-professional comedian, until 11 years ago when he was baptised and became a practising Christian.
Chris, 31, who is based at St Bartholomew’s in Great Harwood, and hails from Lincolnshire, had always been a comedy fan, having performed comedy at college events in Durham while in training for ordination.
Alex’s influences include Morecambe and Wise, Les Dawson, Cannon and Ball, and the slapstick of Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin.
Chris meanwhile is from a different generation and cites influences like Lee Evans, Billy Connolly and Father Ted.
Making people laugh in a Christian context is a huge challenge, so how do Alex and Chris bring together entertaining comedy and the Christian message?
“We had the same questions when we started out together as a comedy duo,” said Chris, “Both of us had done comedy before we met and before we trained to become priests and were asking ourselves what place was there for an Anglican clergyman who ‘does’ comedy?
“We concluded that in laughter, there is healing, and in Christ, there is healing and the two belong together. A life lived in all its fullness includes laughter, as well as the full range of human emotions.
“We can’t just ‘lop off’ our sense of humour to be Christians. So we embrace comedy as part and parcel of our ministry.”
Alex takes up the thought adding: “At first it was just a bit of fun, but a while back we were both asked to take part in a Pendleside Hospice’s Dying Matters Week. We went to a hospice open event where we did a bit of comedy for the patients present.
“It went down well, and we will always remember what an impact that session had on us, and how it made us serious about doing good comedy.”
Alex adds: “God has given us the gift of laughter, the gift of humour and we believe there is a need for the church to affirm the idea that laughter is a key part of ministry.
“When I talk to families and to individuals who have lost someone, it is not simply the loss that we acknowledge. We find things and events that have happened in the lives of those who have passed on that cause us to smile and laugh.
“In deep grief you can often actually forget the person you are grieving for. Laughter restores that person to their rightful place in peoples’ hearts.”
But modern comedy can sometimes be edgy – with Anglo-Saxon vernacular, crudeness, sarcasm and sometimes even abuse.
So how do you make people laugh in 2017 without lapsing into the kind of imagery and language that would not be appropriate for clergymen in the Anglican church?
“We decided to set some groundrules early on in our relationship, most important of which is to get a laugh without offending anybody,” says Alex.
“We’re prepared to push the boundaries a little bit – there may well be a bit of blue for the Bishop, our guest of honour …”
“… cheese,” interjects Chris, “a nice piece of Stilton …”
“To suddenly start being offensive for the sake of it would itself be fake,” explains Chris.
“The best comedians are the ones who are themselves: some of them are quite blue, certainly, they come from where they are and resonate with most of the people who follow them.”
Alex continues: “So we want to do something for families; live entertainment without an 18+ tag.
“We have invited Tony Vino to join us for our comedy evening. He is a professional comedian from Preston, and is a Christian. He will deliver a very entertaining set.
“There will be jokes in there for all-comers on December 8; as well as tea and cake!”
“Our aim for the evening is to let our audience know that laughter and comedy are synonymous with Christian faith, that the two together make a whole.”
Tickets for the event have nearly sold out but some are still available priced £7 for adults and £3 for under 16s, from Chris on 07596 669987.
Written by Mark Ashley