I didn’t laugh very much when I saw The Book of Mormon. I seem to have fallen into a neglected, non-plussed third party of viewers who were
neither incredibly offended by the poor taste of the show, or totally won over by its non-stop irreverent brilliance and lack of time for political correctness.
These two positions can be easily defined in more succinct terms: those who like South Park, and those who don’t. I can’t imagine how excited the fans of The Book Of Mormon will become when they realise that there is in fact a back-log of shows nigh indistinguishable from TBOM, going back to 1997, called South Park. And it is freely available on the internet- you don’t have to pay hundreds of pounds for a ticket or wait until July. There’s even an episode called ‘All about Mormons’ (2003) which says the same thing as TBOM
in a less roundabout way.
The critics who have praised this show to excess seem as if they’re attempting to group together under the banner of ‘Able to Laugh at
Self’. Claims that ‘you’d better not see this show if you’re easily offended!’ make attendees shout by inference ‘I’M NOT! I’M A FUN GUY!’. It’s frankly
boring. Atheists gleeful at the ridicule of organised religion would have to ignore that The Book Of Mormon brings to attention the immensely
positive aspects of religion as well. That is the best part of the show, but it takes a while to come to light.
Incidentally, the musical is actually quite mild and forgiving about Mormons. It ignores, for instance, the issues of the posthumous baptism of holocaust victims, Adolf Hitler, and Barack Obama’s mother. Perhaps the most interesting part of the show is that in the middle of its merciless,
‘no-one-is-safe’ cynicism it leaves room for the positive impact of sincere belief. At the back of your mind, it plants a little thought that actually
it’d be great if you believed in something like that.
There’s also something incredible about watching people move and sing with the joyful and semi-ridiculous excess of cartoons when they’re actually real people. To be able to keep up the song and dance for that long is very impressive. So impressive that it was more entertaining than the jokes.
Ultimately then the last laugh is perhaps on the critics, who enjoy the licentious foolishness of the show. A more considered reflection on The
Book of Mormon should make us think: is nothing sacred?