“We are promised very long hours and low wages. And stale bread. That’s pretty much it. It’s this crazy thing where you’re asked to come and work a lot, and you lose money on the job, because you wind up spending more in tips than you ever earn. But you get to see the world, and see Wes live this wonderful, magical life, where his dreamscape comes true. So, if we show up, he gets to have all his fun, and I guess it’s because we like him that we go along with this.”
"Willem Dafoe said this production was like the ‘actor’s retirement home.’ We had this small hotel in Görlitz, a town on the border of Poland and Germany, and it was all us — there were no other people in it. We walked over to Poland one night, but it was closed, so we were all just in this hotel. The hotel was also our restaurant, and where we’d do prep and makeup. So you’d come down for breakfast and then on the other side of the lobby was makeup and hair. So you’d say, ‘Excuse me, hold on a sec, I’m gonna go get another croissant.’ And then you’d march back over, all the time in your slippers and a robe, like a bunch of old men dying in a hotel."
"with Wes, specifically, all his props and sets are so perfect, you just have to relax and be part of the chemical process. It’s almost like the developing of a photograph. If you’re in the midst of it, you’re a part of it — this picture that he’s made. You’re like the flower in the still life."
“Wearing a navy suit and a striped Oxford, his long red hair and full beard casting him as a hipster messiah, Sanderson Jones paces the carpeted basement floor of the Elephant & Castle bar in San Francisco. The crowd has begun filling the low-ceilinged room, and Jones—a gaunt, 6’4” English comedian—is scrambling to position the last of fifty-odd chairs into pews and get the cordless mic to work. A lesbian couple in plaid Pendleton shirts, a balding middle-aged man, gray haired retirees in wire-framed glasses, and an assortment of curious college students descend the stairs and take the few remaining seats. Jones tosses the mic, smiles, scans the congregation, and starts in.
“Welcome to the first ever Sunday Assembly in San Francisco!” he shouts. He begins pacing and gesturing with his free hand. “For those of you who don’t yet know about us, I will explain,” he says. “The Sunday Assembly is all the best bits of church, but with no religion. And also: Pop songs. It is a Godless congregation that celebrates the simple fact that we are alive, and we’ve got an awesome motto, which is: Live better, help often and wonder more. Our mission is even better: It is to help everyone live this one life as fully as possible, and our vision is a Sunday Assembly in every town city and village that wants one.”
Jones, with his charisma, quick wit and infectious laugh, is a natural pitchman. But the program that follows in the San Francisco service—a mixture of singing, party games, YouTube videos and guest speakers—feels rudderless. …
But here’s the thing: It’s working. Jones—who founded the Sunday Assembly with fellow comedian Pippa Evans—recently completed a forty-city expansion tour through England, the U.S. Australia. Two nights earlier, four-hundred people turned out for the inaugural service in Los Angeles, and hundreds more have filled bars and community centers from New York to Nashville to San Diego. Jones estimates there are about thirty-five cities around the world with their own Sunday Assembly, and through the group’s website, he and Evans receive hundreds of requests each week for advice on how to establish new congregations.”