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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 12:26 GMT
Stand-up preachers take to pulpit
Comedy workshop for vicars
The group learned how to make a connection with their audiences
Vicars have been trying to take comedy seriously in a workshop designed to improve their sermons.

It was the brainchild of chaplain Chris Stone at Rochester Diocese who said it would help preachers to put their messages across with style.

Rather than modelling themselves on the Vicar of Dibley, or Father Ted, they spent a day with stand-up comic Oliver Double who has a doctorate in comedy.

Anything to offset prejudices about sermons being boring was good, he said.

The University of Kent lecturer, who used to run clubs in Sheffield, said it helped to know what worked well, and what did not work quite so well.

If you've got that connection... you're ahead of the game
Oliver Double

In one case, a vicar only had to be helped to use the microphone and then he "instantly had more reaction and was much more engaging", he said.

The performer and academic said: "It doesn't matter whether you're a barrister in court, or somebody running a market stall.

"If you've got that connection with the audience, you're ahead of the game."

Mr Stone, who is also vice chairman of the College of Preachers, said: "We want to know when people come into church we have got preachers who can actually put across the message they want to and do it well."

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