Sebastian Carandini

‘Hi guys, um, this is a bit embarrassing really, I’ve never actually kind of done one of these vlog things before.  But there are just so many content creators I just love, Logan Paul, Pewdiepie, Moses – and I just wanted to add something a bit new to that list. Now, I know you can’t actually see me right now, but I didn’t want to just jump straight in with a video because, well, and I don’t like to brag or anything, but I’m kind of like God.’

For better or for worse, the Bible is a pervasive force in modern day Britain.  Although only 871,000 people attended Church weekly in 2018, Britain’s Christian history makes the Bible a common cultural reference.  It would be hard not to notice Christmas and Easter every year, most of us have learned something about the Bible in RS classes, and even if you’ve never seen a school nativity, you’ve surely seen Martin Freeman’s 2009 masterpiece Nativity!  The near universality of basic Biblical knowledge means it provides a fantastic common reference point for satire.

It was this common knowledge that I thought could be fertile ground for Cambridge comedians when I first pitched this show.  Pitching a collaborative writing project doesn’t rely on having a polished script or a clear vision for the show, rather it needs a single idea, which a variety of writers can work from to create a hilarious collaborative project.  In Heavenly Vloggers, this central idea is ‘what if biblical characters were modern day YouTubers?’  Six writers have explored this question through comic monologues, framed as vlogs, with an additional two writers producing short sketches to punctuate the piece.  As one of our writer/performers, Felix Enslin, put it ‘very serious old people as irresponsible YouTubers - what's NOT funny about that?’  

Maria Telnikoff

By focusing on the Bible, we could satirise commonly known figures.  Many would define satire as a form of comedy that’s critical and exposes people, but it also relies on common cultural points of reference - there’s a reason why the satirisation of national politics can be so entertaining.  Most of us are familiar with the nativity, Peter’s role as Jesus’ right-hand man and the Devil’s most famous moments in the Bible.  The writers of Heavenly Vloggers can therefore play with and subvert commonly held perceptions of the Bible.  Writer, Josh Korber Hoffman, views such subversion as particularly effective when it comes to religious figures: ‘the characters are elevated to such a holy place, that to imagine them being anywhere beneath that is instantly amusing.’  For instance, Josh’s Isaac is a loud, insecure wanna-be YouTuber, calling himself ‘KSIsaac’, rather than a meek lamb of God.  Marina McCready has even gone as far to suggest that Satan’s evilness is all a misunderstanding: ‘you see a guy in the middle of the desert starving and thirsty, you offer him a drink, a bar of chocolate, but apparently that’s “sinful” and “temptation”’.

"A dual inclusivity and exclusivity that arguably reflects the history of religion itself"

 However, the second part of Heavenly Vloggers’ premise does make it especially entertaining for viewers of a certain age.  After all: this is a production by students, for students.  The idea that Heavenly Vloggers reimagines Biblical characters as ‘vloggers’ means this show can also mock the habits of YouTubers, which are familiar to most members of Gen Z.  One of our writers, Henry Weighill, described YouTubers as great material for comedy because ‘there’s always a tension between the persona a YouTuber wants to put forward and their real character’.  This demonstrates one of the strengths of the premise: it forces Biblical character into consumerist, insincere and self-promoting vlogger culture, which is seemingly antithetical to the Bible.  For instance, part way through announcing her divine pregnancy, the Virgin Mary pauses to promote a beauty product (‘honey, if you think immaculate conception is a miracle, you need to see what Bio-oil does for stretch marks’) and Jonathan Neary has produced faux adverts, to mock the incessant advertising we are all victim to on YouTube.  Using the form of vlogs not only produces conflict from which our writers can derive humour, but allows the genre of vlogging to be satirised in it’s own right.


Mountain View

Live Streaming In and Beyond Lockdown

Therefore, Heavenly Vloggers is a show for everyone familiar with the Bible, but it’s particularly a show for Gen Z, a dual inclusivity and exclusivity that arguably reflects the history of religion itself.  Unlike that latter statement, Heavenly Vloggers largely avoids making grand declarations on religion itself.  As one of our writers put it ‘it was honestly just a stressful tightrope of desperately trying to avoid blasphemy.’  Instead, we’ve tried to make something we think most people can engage with and enjoy, especially our friends and peers!   

Heavenly Vloggers will be performed at 7pm, Wednesday 10th of June.  You can watch it on the ADC YouTube Channel.