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No Joke: The Pope Met With Jim Gaffigan, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and 100 Comedians at the Vatican

No Joke: The Pope Met With Jim Gaffigan, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and 100 Comedians at the Vatican

Ahead of his meeting with world leaders at the Group of Seven summit, on Friday Pope Francis hosted over 100 comedians at the Vatican to celebrate “the need for humor.”

The pope welcomed invited 107 comedians from 15 nations, including Jim Gaffigan, Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Rock, Stephen Colbert, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Conan O’Brien and Mike Birbiglia.

“In the midst of so much gloomy news, immersed as we are in many social and even personal emergencies, you have the power to spread peace and smiles,” Francis told the comedians.

“You unite people, because laughter is contagious,” he continued, asking jokingly, “Please pray for me: for, not against!”

Francis also let the comedians know that it was OK to “laugh at God” in the same way “we play and joke with the people we love.” He also encouraged the comedians that their work brings joy to both God and His people.

“Remember this: When you manage to bring intelligent smiles to the lips of even a single spectator, you also make God smile,” he said.

After delivering his speech, Francis greeted each of the comedians individually, sharing brief laughs and jokes with some of them.

“It was great, it was very fast and really loving, and made me happy,” Goldberg said afterward.

Gaffigan, a proud Catholic, shared that the pope told him he was his favorite comedian.

O’Brien was fairly baffled that the event, organized by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education and Dicastery for Communication, even happened.

“To be in that room and to be with all my fellow comedians, some of whom I’ve been good friends with for many years, in that environment, was quite strange,” O’Brien said. “All of us were thinking, how did this happen? Why are we here, and when are they going to throw us out?”

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