Internet InfoMedia stephen colbert and whoopi goldberg met the pope in the vatican no joke

Francis hosted an audience with over 100 comic entertainers, also including Chris Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Conan O’Brien. He said there was much to learn from them.

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Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon and Whoopi Goldberg were also among the more than 100 comics who were invited to meet with the pope.Simone Risoluti/Vatican Media

A late-night television host, a stand-up comedian and a comic actress walk into the Vatican, and the pope says, “Is this some kind of joke?”

It wasn’t.

On Friday morning, Pope Francis was in fact full of praise for 105 entertainers from 15 countries who were invited to meet with him at a gathering that the Vatican described as an effort to “establish a link” between the humorists and the Roman Catholic Church.

“In the midst of so much gloomy news,” Francis told them, “you denounce abuses of power, you give voice to forgotten situations, you highlight abuses, you point out inappropriate behavior.” He also lauded them for getting people to “think critically by making them laugh and smile.”

Francis is a bit of a wisecracker himself. One of his standard punchlines, when people say they are praying for him, is to reply: “For or against?” — a line he riffed on during Friday’s gathering. He has also quipped that the best remedy for an ailing knee is tequila, and the comedian Ellen DeGeneres once made up a whole set built on one of Francis’ mother-in-law jokes.

Some of those invited have made swipes at the church and at the pope, including the late-night host Stephen Colbert, an observant Catholic who often jokes about his religion and has been known to challenge guests on his shows who share his faith to “Catholic throw-downs.” Announcing his trip to the Vatican this week, the host berated the pope for using — and then two weeks later repeating — an anti-gay slur.

“Why? Why, Pope Frankie, why?” Mr. Colbert said.

Others in the church were not amused by some of the choices for Friday’s event, whose contingent from the United States included the stand-up comedians Chris Rock and Tig Notaro, the late-night hosts Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon (who hammed it up before the gathering began), and the comic actresses Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Whoopi Goldberg. More than two-thirds of the entertainers were Italian. One — identified as Rivelino Barro Gonçalves, who has little trace of an online presence — was from East Timor.

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