Aidan Killian: Jesus Versus Buddha

Irish comedian Aidan Killian certainly cuts a surprising figure with his new show; not so much for the long, simple robe he wears, but the fact that he’s shaved off half his beard and long hair to approximate, depending on the angle, the aesthetic simplicity of the Buddha and the singularly messianic follicles of Jesus—a weird theological spin, you might say, on Batman’s Two-Face.

Given that we know little of Jesus’s life between the ages of 12 and 30, Killian quite rightly asks us to consider some of the unsettling consequences of Him possibly travelling to India.

Not that Killian mentions his appearance; nor does he apologise for having early on decided against comparing and contrasting Christ and the Buddha in some shoddy X-Factor style sing-off kind of thing. Instead, he hopes that, through thoughtfulness and humour, explaining both men’s philosophies, he can inspire a change of consciousness among his audience and so send us out into afternoon Edinburgh better placed to help change the world for the better.

From bemoaning how adults lose children’s innate "in the moment" truthfulness, to discussing the passing success of a 10 day meditation course, Killian clearly wants us to think about the restraints in which we bind ourselves. Yet the bread and butter of the show is when he gets into the clear similarities between Christ and the Buddha (both, he points out, titles to be earned, rather than given) and their theologies. Given that we know little of Jesus’s life between the ages of 12 and 30, Killian quite rightly asks us to consider some of the unsettling consequences of Him possibly travelling to India. Did He learn His theology from the Buddha's own disciples? Or did He find His own way to the same beliefs, suggesting that they might possess some eternal Truth?

Perhaps the funniest, most emotionally committed points of the show are when Killian, bemoaning the numerous different versions of the Bible, then goes on to provide his own somewhat more “fruity” translations. Especially that point when it comes to Jesus—homemade whip in hand—choosing NOT to forgive the Bankers in the Temple; as an ex-Banker, attacking the corporate financial world and the evils it has done to people’s lives seems to be safer ground for his humour.

And this is the thing; any first show can be “difficult”, but there were a sprinkling of moments where Killian simply lost his way—with some camouflaged better than others. For whatever reason, this debut performance did not show Killian on top of his material; he even seemed somewhat unsettled by the physical height of the stage in comparison to his audience. Given his experience and career so far, there’s no doubting that he’ll become more relaxed and confident about this material—and “own” it, rather than just “performing” it—as the Fringe progresses. Which is all to the good. There’s certainly plenty here to find enjoyable, and not just because of his personal charm. 

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn


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The Blurb

These two bad ass dudes walked on water, overcame death, and gave up everything to teach peace to the masses. One of them beat the bankers senseless with a whip, and died by crucifixion; and the other sat under a tree and died from a dodgy mushroom. That will teach them! This show captures the essence of their lives, focuses on truth and guarantees enlightenment through laughter. 'What emerges above all else is Killian’s intelligence and his passion’ (ThreeWeeks). ‘Revolutionary comedian’ (Hotpress).

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