Why am I such a f*** up? ‘Recovering Catholic’ Terry Christian explores his Irish roots for first foray into stand-up

By Paddy von Behr

He’s spent much of the last 30 years crafting a career as the essential voice of British youth culture.

Now, Terry Christian – who first hit our screens as the presenter of the outrageous Channel 4 show The Word – is stepping tentatively into the world of stand-up comedy with his show Naked Confessions of a Recovering Catholic.

And he’s heading to the Chorlton Irish Club on November 2 to come to terms with his Irish Catholic background and where it has taken him.

“Given what I’ve done, the opportunities I’ve had in life and what I’m about, I should be a multi-millionaire now – but I’m just a disaster,” he told MM.

“So that’s what a lot of it is – just true stories about the people I grew up with.

“I put a lot of my pointless belligerence – kicking against things unnecessarily and biting the hand that feeds you – down to that Irish Catholic upbringing.”

This upbringing is a subject Christian kept coming back to and one that forms the backbone of his show.

“It’s very different growing up from Irish descent to being English, you know, culturally,” he said.

“There’s something about you that doesn’t quite fit in with English life – you’ve got this kind of honesty tourettes and this horrible, pessimistic view, like you’re waiting for the next famine.”

This state of mind has followed Christian throughout his career, as he explained: “We’re always made to feel bad about everything – ie enjoying ourselves – and I’ve noticed that.

“I’ve been on jobs where I’ve had big money and gone on three holidays a year, but you only ever enjoy one because you feel guilty about the other two.

“It’s almost like this feeling in the back of your mind that you should be out there tilling the master’s land. ‘You weren’t put on this earth to have a good time – you were put on this earth to make sure the master has a good time!’”

This sense of guilt has helped shape Christian’s outlook on life – one which he insists isn’t based on cynicism.

“Often I get people saying to me: ‘You’re cynical,’ and I’ll say ‘No, I’m pessimistic and realistic, rather than cynical.’

“I actually find people who are optimistic are more cynical because of the things they’re optimistic about.”

This pessimism and realism will set the theme for the show, as Christian offers an insight into his thought process.

“There’s always this thing in the back of your mind – and this is part of my theme – no matter how beautiful the spot is where you lay out your picnic blanket, there’s always a dog turd in the grass next to it – you know, like there’s always some sand in your sherbert dip.”

The show describes him, as a ‘recovering Catholic’, a process that is set to begin with the performance in November.

“It’s my therapy – it’s the only thing between me and becoming completely and utterly bipolar,” he said.

“I’m a recovering Catholic. I think everybody that ever got kind of brainwashed is.”

Stand-up is a brand new experience for Christian, who has spent 30 years working in radio and television.

“What I’ve got off on after years of being on radio and TV is the sheer freedom, because you get a bit tired of editing yourself. 

“If you’ve got prejudices, better out than in, I think.

“You’ve got to be honest about yourself.  You’ve got to be able to admit ‘I was an idiot’ – but it is quite amusing.”

This adventure is still in its experimental stages, as Christian only has two full stand-up shows under his belt.

However, he seems confident that all will go to plan, despite his brief summary of what the show is really about: “Let’s get to the crux of the matter – why am I such a f*** up, really?”

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