Pope Francis is the headliner at a comedic conclave that includes Jimmy Fallon

June 11, 2024
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Heard the one about Pope Francis and a room full of jokers? You’re about to.

The leader of the Catholic Church will take the mic Friday for a meeting with, ahem, “leading figures in the field of humor from various parts of the world,” the Vatican has announced.

Among the confirmed invitees is NBC’s very own Jimmy Fallon, host of “The Tonight Show,” as well as some other heavy hitters in the comedy world like Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Tig Notaro.

And those are just the Americans. Some 105 comedians and humorists from 14 other countries, including some not exactly known for standup, like East Timor, are coming to watch the pope work the room, specifically a room in the Apostolic Palace.

The stated purpose of this comedic conclave is, according to a Vatican press release, “to celebrate the beauty of human diversity and promote a message of peace, love, and solidarity.”

And the pope is the headliner.

“As far as I know, it will be an audience with him, where he speaks about humor to them,” the Rev. James Martin, an influential Jesuit priest, said in an email to NBC News.

That will be followed, Martin wrote, by some individual face-time with the pope and a news conference.

Martin, who runs the “Outreach” ministry for LGBTQ Catholics, said he got an invitation because he’s the author of a 2012 book on faith and funniness called “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of Spiritual Life.” He’s also been dubbed the “The Colbert Report’s Chaplain” because of his appearances on the show. 

The gathering was organized by the Dicastery for Culture and Education, the same Vatican outfit that last year put together a meeting of some 200 prominent artists with the pope in the Sistine Chapel.

The biggest contingent of comedians for Friday’s event are locals from Italy, who number 67, according to the Vatican. There will also be one stand-up comedian from the pope’s native Argentina: Malena Guinzburg.

The other yucksters are from Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

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