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BACK TO HER CHURCH ROOTS: Angie Le Mar

LAST YEAR, comedian Angie Le Mar gave her heart to God and got baptised. By her own admission, she had previously hit “rock bottom.”

In My Shoes, her much-hyped one-woman show in London’s West End hadn’t done as well as expected and had put the comedian in serious debt, among a “catalogue” of other things.

She recalls making one desperate phone call to her mum in Jamaica when it all got too much and the family matriarch’s response simply being: ‘Let me pray’.

Le Mar explained: “Before the show even started, they [Soho Theatre] cancelled it. When my mum prayed, the producer rang soon after and told me the show was back on. My mum said, ‘go to church tomorrow and give God thanks.’

“I went to church and on that day the preacher’s sermon sounded like it was tailored for me. It was at that moment I said, ‘I’m ready God, I’m ready to give You my heart. I came home to my kids and husband and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m a Christian!’”

Le Mar was raised in the church, but spent much of her time as a young adult painting the town red while establishing herself as one of the leading black female comics on the entertainment scene.

As she got older, she began questioning her “purpose on this earth” and found her questions could be answered by faith.

“I just hit the place where nothing was exciting or fulfilling me anymore. I’d done the raves, I’d done this, I’d done that, I’d done the awards… Then I did it all again! As I got older, I started to think about my purpose.”

She says going back to church not only made her feel “complete”, but opened doors to a world she would never have imagined revisiting again.

After a 10-year hiatus, Angie will return to the stage – well, pulpit – for a one-off stand-up show at the New Testament Assembly in south London, where she will share stories of her childhood in church and her jam-packed journey back to faith.

“I had no plans to come back to stand-up because I had really put that hat up,” she says. “I had gone down the writing route with [Box office hit] The Brothers and [TV show] Ladies Talk, I was in a really comfortable zone – spiritually too.

“Then [The Voice’s Soul Stirrings Editor] Marcia Dixon sent me an email asking if I would ever consider doing stand-up in a church. At first, it didn’t make sense to me, but she said God had really put it on her for me to do it. After some thought, I was like, ‘why not? It’s the most comfortable place I know and it’s a line I understand.”

Upon her return to the house of the Lord, Angie met her childhood “best friend” Pamela, who like Angie, had returned to faith after being thrown around by life.

Le Mar recalls: “We sat there on that day chatting and sharing sweets just like we did when we were kids. And just like back in the day, an old parishioner turned around and gave us the dirtiest look like, ‘them two big adults can’t shut up?’ We laughed. Some things never change!

“Then there were the church conventions,” she added. “That was where churches would meet other churches. It was a time where you got your best clothes, best shoes and there was a possibility you might see some boys. We really got excited about their dry little afros. It was a great time.

“I’ll be talking about these experiences and those that brought me back to church.”

Le Mar, who is still very much involved in writing for theatre and TV, revealing during our chat that she’s a handshake away from signing off on her new talk show, but says her faith-based work has taken priority.

“I’m doing a lot of talking and stuff in churches and meeting young people who want to get into the arts and want to write and produce. What God is saying to me is, ‘Whatever you did in that world, I can replace it in this world’.
The comedian, who once presented the popular Saturday morning show on Choice FM, will join Premier Gospel radio station next year and is now weighing up the prospects of a 40-date tour of churches, as well as speaking engagements in America.

“Did I think my return to stand-up would be in a church? No, but my mum did. She always told me that I would do comedy in the church, but I never believed her.

She adds: “There may be people out there who do not go to church, or like me, haven’t been in a while, but why not check it out? I’m still going to be funny.”

An Audience With Angie Le Mar takes place at the New Testament Assembly, 7 Beechcroft Road, Tooting, London SW17 4BU on Nov 30. Tickets: £10. For more information visit www.marciadixonpr.eventbrite.co.uk

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