Catholic Sentinel photos by Bob Kerns
Bishop Smith shows his latest humor kick — Dilbert.
Catholic Sentinel photos by Bob Kerns
Bishop Smith shows his latest humor kick — Dilbert.
Ordination to the Episcopate
Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith

2 p.m., April 29
St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

For Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith, a sense of humor always helps with difficulties in life.

“You have to be able to laugh at yourself, at things in life and with others,” he says.

The bishop has always enjoyed good humor, and his smile can be seen beaming around the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center these days. As a boy he would gather around the family radio to listen to the Goon Show, an English humor show starring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and Harry Seacomb. The show launched Sellers into his comedy career and set the tone for generations of English humorists.

“He and my other brothers would memorize whole sections of these shows,” says his sister, Kathy Thornburg. “They would sometimes get going at the dinner table reciting these sections with the appropriate accents and sound effects. We would laugh so hard we would almost fall off our chairs.”
Bishop Smith also enjoyed the comedic stylings of Mr. Bean, Blackadder, and Keeping Up Appearances.
His interest in comedy also spans the different places he has lived. In South Africa, it was the comic strip Madam and Eve poking fun at local life that brought him chuckles. He also watched South African stand-up comedians parodying the South African scene over the years.
While in the United States, his ear for humor leaned toward the comic strips The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. The bishop has complete editions of both series. These days he’s an avid follower of the office parody comic strip Dilbert.

Although humor is important to him, the bishop admits that the business of making others laugh can have its challenges.

“The challenge with humor is that at some point humorists begin to lose their edge and then some resort to crudities and crude humor,” said Bishop Smith. “At that point they have lost what they originally had. Others like the folks behind The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes recognize that and stop, going out on a high.”
A humorless life is not one for the new bishop. He plans to rely on his sense of humor to get him through new challenges, just like he has his whole life.

“At some moments in life humor can be wonderful in diffusing tensions, relaxing us, and helping keep things in perspective,” said Bishop Smith.

“If I have had a really stressful day, I often turn to humor (after prayer) as a way of relaxing.”