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'You also make God smile': Pope Francis meets more than 100 comedians at the Vatican

Chris Rock, left, and Conan O'Brien arrive for an audience with Pope Francis
Chris Rock, left, and Conan O'Brien arrive for an audience with Pope Francis Copyright Riccardo De Luca/AP
Copyright Riccardo De Luca/AP
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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“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.

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Before flying to Italy's southern Puglia region to meet world leaders at the G7 summit, Pope Francis hosted a very different audience at the Vatican today, celebrating the importance of humour.

The pontiff welcomed more than 100 comedians from 15 nations, including US celebrities Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon.

Whoopi Goldberg, centre, leaves after an audience with Pope Francis
Whoopi Goldberg, centre, leaves after an audience with Pope FrancisRiccardo De Luca/AP

“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.

Francis pointed out that in the creation, “Divine wisdom practiced your art for the benefit of none other than God himself, the first spectator in history,” with God delighting in the works that he had made. 

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

Francis also said it was OK to “laugh at God” in the same way “we play and joke with the people we love.” 

Conan O'Brien is interviewed after an audience with Pope Francis
Conan O'Brien is interviewed after an audience with Pope Francis Riccardo De Luca/AP

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

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

O’Brien noted that the pope “spoke in Italian, so I’m not quite sure what was said.” 

“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," the TV host added. "All of us were thinking, how did this happen? Why are we here, and when are they going to throw us out?” 

Stephen Colbert is interviewed after an audience with Pope Francis
Stephen Colbert is interviewed after an audience with Pope FrancisRiccardo De Luca/AP

Colbert admitted his Italian “is really bad, I would like to speak it better.” But he managed to remind the pope that he had done the audiobook for his memoir. 

“It was wonderful, he’ll never forget me,” he joked. 

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