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Van Gogh-Goghs Deny Satanic Influences

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 27, 1998 (Associated Van Gogh-Gogh Press) -- Local sketch comedy group the Van Gogh-Goghs today blasted allegations that their comedy is rife with satanic influences. According to the leader of a popular Christian sect known as "Roman Catholicism," the six-man group has written skits promoting the pagan gods of ancient Greece and the Roman empire, and regularly included backwards-masked, anti-Christian propaganda inside their sketches.

The leader of Catholicism, commonly known as "the Pope," claimed recently that when certain Van Gogh-Gogh skits are performed backwards, a hidden, satanic message is revealed.

As proof, the "Pope," or "pontiff" and five cardinals performed the Van Gogh-Goghs' classic "Whittle Teleschool of Tomorrow" sketch backwards. At one point, the phrase "bingo bottom foodlike (garbled) harpy Satan nose physiology is good" becomes very apparent.

Group member T. Mike Childs scoffed at such claims. "I can barely remember my lines forward," he said. "How am I supposed to remember to slip in a carefully worded reverse phonetic message that tells children to worship Satan, the mighty dark lord, the ruler of all that is evil, and to give him your eternal souls now, you foolish mortals mwahahahahaha?"

The group also denied that their sketches unfairly single out Christianity for attack. Jason Torchinsky, the group's Jew and token minority, protested that their "Shlomo, the Drunken Rabbi" sketch presented an amusing portrait of an alcoholic, incompetent, deeply troubled Jewish leader.

"We've been meaning to write some skits demeaning other major world religions like Islam and the Hare Krishnas, but we just never got around to it," he said. "Besides, the Hare Krishnas have been played out comedically since the early '80s."

"We're laughing with Christ, not at him," said Van Gogh-Gogh Rob Terrell, who plays Jesus Christ in a skit ridiculing Jesus Christ. When asked to point out an instance of Christ laughing in the Bible, Terrell gestured somewhere around Acts 9:17 and said "I'm sure it's in there somewhere."

Group members also denied they actively promoted ancient pagan religions. "Just because we said Zeus had a good haircut does not mean we want people to worship him," group member Alan Benson, until recently a close poker buddy of the Pope, said. "I mean sure he's wise and munificent and ever so handsome and lordly...." Benson then excused himself to swoon.

This is not the first time the group has crossed swords with the Pope. "We've heard all this before," Childs said. "The man has a grudge against us. Sin this, blasphemy that. I mean, we can't be slothful, greedy, or murderous without getting into trouble with him."

But this time, one of the Pope's charges caught the sketch comedy group by surprise. According to the Rome-based pontiff, the Van Gogh-Goghs' name is, in reality, an acronym for "The Horribly Evil Vile Advocates (of) Naughtiness, Greed, Ogling Girls, Hatred — Golly Oh Gosh Hail Satan."

"Is 'gosh' satanic? I had no idea," asked a visibly shaken Galen Black, the group's nominally practicing Christian. "I'll certainly never use that term in a skit again. I'll replace it with 'shit' or 'fuck.'"

Charles Rempel, the group's stickler for details, questioned the Pope's spelling. "Wouldn't that acronym actually spell 'T.H.E. V.A.O.N. G.O.G.H.-G.O.G.H.S.'?" he said. "The Vaon Gogh-Goghs would be some other sketch comedy group entirely."

A quick poll of the reporters assembled for the group's press conference revealed that, as far as they were concerned, omitting minor words like articles and prepositions was permissible in acronyms.

"Well, I guess you've got us there," Rempel said. "I guess the devil is in the details. I mean...uh...not the devil, you know, uh, I mean, hey look over there!"

The Van Gogh-Goghs were also stunned into near-incoherence by the Pope's charge that their "Satan Sketch" mocked the ruler of the underworld.

"Hunh?" Terrell said.

"Uhr?" Rempel added.

"Wha?" Childs explained.

"What did I miss?" Black asked. "I was in the little boy's room. Why are all your mouths open like that?"

Benson declined to comment, remaining in his swoon over the mythical figure of Zeus.

According to biblical scholar Dr. Arthur J. Corrino, the Pope's anger was sparked not by a love of Old Scratch, but by a desire to maintain the current theological balance of power.

"Satan is a vital part of the Judeo-Christian theology," Corrino said. "Okay, maybe not the 'Judeo' part so much. But he is indispensable to Christianity."

"By mocking him, the Van Gogh-Goghs are effectively mocking the entire belief system of Christians. I must say, I agree with the Pope. This so-called sketch comedy group should be ashamed of themselves."

Corrino then expressed his displeasure by rubbing his two index fingers together in the universal "naughty, naughty" sign.

So what does all this mean for the Van Gogh-Goghs' shows? The group steadfastly maintains that they do not plan to change their playlists, but late in the day Torchinsky announced that several members were working on a sketch tentatively titled "My Pal God."

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