Six days into 2022 and we’ve already had one of the weirdest collisions of gaming culture and the wider world. Yesterday, during Pope Francis’ weekly general audience in which he said a few prayers, made a few addresses, and casually shamed voluntarily childfree people for preferring the company of their pets to tiny, screaming humans most of us cannot possibly afford, a troupe of jugglers / acrobats / general circus folk performed to a jazzy ska-esque rendition of “Megalovania” from Toby Fox’s Undertale.
Everything about this performance inspires in me a manic chuckle as I try to make sense of the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. The performance starts with an acrobat twirling a foam cylinder with their feet. Then, for some reason, the jugglers start, and then someone wheels by on a unicycle making every element of this performance look like unorganized, mismatched chaos. Something that’s oddly fitting when you think about the chaotic terror of the Sans fight. In the Sans battle, just like in this performance, nonsensical shit is coming at you from all sides while a little man in a funny outfit smiles at you serenely as “Megalovania” plays.
As incredulous as it may sound, this is actually not the first time there’s been a Pope / Undertale crossover. In 2016, YouTube gamer MatPat famously gave the Pope a Steam code for Undertale as he thought the game represented the same themes of forgiveness and compassion that the Pope alluded to in a speech he made earlier in the year. Maybe Big Catholic Boss Guy finally got around to playing it and liked the song so much he requested it for his next general audience. Of course, that would mean the Pope would have taken the “genocide” option which, depending on your view of organized religion, may or may not match up.
Wow, that got dark.
The history of atrocities committed in the name of religion aside, everything about this performance rips. I especially like the wide shot of the stage that includes the Pope in his funny outfit, the performers in their funny outfits, and members of the Swiss Guard with their totally normal technicolor pantaloons and traditional halberd lending that extra dash of “is this real or am I tripping balls right now?” all while Fazzini’s The Resurrection looms in the background looking ready to consume everyone whole.
It is the exact kind of surrealism I think Toby Fox would appreciate.