Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rabbi Bob Alper Wins "Joke With the Pope" Contest, Becomes "Honorary Comedic Advisor" to Pope Francis


Rabbi Bob Alper, the retired Reform rabbi and stand-up comic from Vermont whose jokes have appeared many times on Jewish Humor Central, got a big surprise yesterday morning when he was notified that he is the winner of the "Joke With the Pope" contest. 

With his joke selected from the more than 4,000 that were submitted during Pope Francis' visit to the USA, Alper was awarded the title of "Honorary Comedic Advisor" to the Pope by the Catholic organization that sponsored the contest, the Pontifical Missions Societies.

As Steve Lipman writes in this week's issue of The Jewish Week,
The rabbi, who lived in East Dorset, Vt., “was kind of shocked and delighted.” A veteran of ecumenical performing, having appeared in comedy shows for more than a decade with Muslim and Protestant colleagues, his 27-second video featured a mild joke he tells about him and his wife of 46 years. The rabbi, in the joke, pokes fun at himself.
“The joke is one of the best I’ve ever written,” Rabbi Alper told The Jewish Week in a telephone interview. “It’s reality. It’s something with which people can identify. It exemplifies the Pope’s values, which are family, humor, warmth.”
The contest was an extension of the Vatican’s increasing use of social media and a reflection of Francis’ accessible personality, said Father Andrew Small, national director of PMS.
He “shopped the idea around” in church circles. Some people were nervous. Was it disrespectful to the Pope? Then Francis, who had heard about the proposal, sent a letter of approval in his native Spanish. “ I like to laugh – a lot. It helps me to feel closer to God and closer to other people in my life,” the Pope wrote. “I invite you to share your happiness, your joy and your laughter with one another and with the whole world. Share your jokes and your funny stories: the world will be better, the Pope will be happy and God will be the happiest of all.”
Enjoy!

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