Comedians Are Closer To God, Says Bridget Jones Star Sally Phillips

Comedians Are Closer To God, Says Bridget Jones Star Sally Phillips

Heard the one about the comedian who put her faith in Christ?

It’s no laughing matter for Sally Phillips, who says it has helped her tackle life’s tough issues. She stars in the latest Bridget Jones movie, which is released this month

Comedy actress Sally Phillips may be best known for her roles in Miranda and the Bridget Jones movies – but it is her Christian faith that is her
driving force.

Phillips, 46, began her career while studying at Oxford University, but when a Pentecostal Christian from Sierra Leone prayed for her in a shopping centre, life changed dramatically.

She says: “I tried to become a Christian at school. I decided I was going to popularise Abba and Christianity – grandiose ambitions, aged 14.

“I used to fortune-tell with my copy of the Bible. I’d ask people to give me a page and verse number and then I’d say, ‘And you will be four cubits by four cubits... that means you need to go on a diet.’ Or whatever it was.

“I joined the Christian Union at school. There was a maths teacher called Mrs Fowler who had a guitar and we were five socially awkward teenage girls sitting in a damp basement.

“She really tried hard to inspire us. But it had the opposite effect on me.

Honestly I think comedians are a lot closer to God than most unthinking people in church - Sally Phillips

“Then I went to university. God was on my case. The Christian Union focused on me in a way they didn’t appear to focus on other people.

“They were constantly turning up on my door with Bibles, inviting me places. So naturally by the end of my time at university I was incredibly anti-Christianity. I started researching and writing a sit com about witches. I thought witches were funny. I had a whole load of books on witchcraft.

I started having really bad nightmares. I thought, ‘OK, my brain is a computer; I’m feeding it witches. After three months of sleeping about three hours a night and [having] these nightmares every single night, I ended up on a job with Milton Jones and Patrice Naiambana, who is a Sierra Leonean actor.

“I quite quickly established they were both Christians. I became a Christian when Patrice prayed for me in Hammersmith shopping centre at 3am. And to everyone’s surprise I became a Christian and still am.”

Comedy often has a reputation for cynicism, but Phillips rejects claims the industry is full of atheists.

She adds: “Honestly I think comedians are a lot closer to God than most unthinking people in church. After the first few years when you’re desperate for a laugh, you’re searching for truth.

“Society has many margins that provide great vantage points from which to view it, and comedians are genuinely looking for the truth of who people are, what they want, how they behave and why – and looking to pull back masks and reveal truth. And I think that’s what Jesus was all about.

“I often hear preachers ask: ‘What’s your advice for telling jokes in sermons?’

“Don’t. Please don’t. Don’t do it! The really exciting thing about preaching is God comes and lights it up.

“That’s the really wonderful thing, isn’t it? It can be nothing. It can be someone absolutely useless. You can be Moses who has got a stammer and can’t talk. It could be a child. God comes and lights it up and you’re literally just a tube through which God blows. A kazoo. God’s kazoo.”

Phillips believes her faith in Jesus Christ has helped her navigate some of life’s tougher seasons. She says: “Life isn’t about A levels. I feel I’ve been given a present. I’ve been given a Narnia cupboard which I can look through and see things God’s way. ‘I’ve chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise’ (1 Corinthians 1:27). And ‘the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’ (1 Corinthians 1:19).

“We had these new neighbours move in. They had twins. “My son Olly decided he wanted to play with them. People with Down’s syndrome can’t climb but Olly didn’t get that memo.


“We’ve got an eight-foot fence and Olly got over it. And got over it. And got over it. We couldn’t figure out how he was doing it. You’d wake up at 6am and he wasn’t in bed, he’d be in just his underpants in their back garden.

“I was so ashamed. I didn’t want to get to know the neighbours at all! But these were really, really nice people and they repeatedly didn’t
mind Olly climbing over.

“Now we put ladders up against the fence and the kids come and go freely between our gardens. We only buy one paddling pool. So Olly’s refusal to behave in a socially acceptable way has very literally broken down fences between us and them. My youngest son is best friends with their youngest son.

“I really think that is more like God’s picture of how we should be. I feel we’re being specifically blessed through his difference.”

Sally Phillips is known for her comedy acting roles in movies such as Bridget Jones and TV sitcom Miranda.

Read more inspiring stories of faith in the September issue of New Life Newspaper


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Read more great stories from New life Publishing...

News| Real Life| Views| Sport