It's a risky little game going to a comedy show with your Mum. There's always the potential to be that awkward moment where you find a stray, possibly crude, comment hilarious and your Mum just stares at you with that look that spells: "How do you know what that means?!" Or, alternatively, she bursts out laughing at something that gives you a little too much information into her depth of knowledge and scares you to think that she too, was young once. It can be disturbing.
But JAMIE BOWEN brought his deceased father to his comedy show, so I think I had very little to worry about in comparison.
After FINALLY having returned from a short stint in London, you could say this incognito lighthouse keeper finds a silver lining to every crap situation. Actually, it's more like he has been forced to.
Now I know it's politically incorrect to laugh at someone's misfortune, but Jamie's is just ridiculously perfect. His constant witty storytelling gives all sadness a firm slap in the face and reassures you that life always has a funny side - and if you can't find it, get some glasses.
Don't be intimidated by his baldness and tough bushman's beard. It's all a facade (not physically a facade, he does actually look like that. If you end up in a comedy show with a comedian who has hair at the top of his head instead of the bottom of his face, abort. It's not Jamie) - because his heart really does boom.
A man exploding on stage in front of a live audience has never been funnier.
P.S. When you do go to his show, make sure you listen to the ABBA soundtrack while getting ready. Don't question, just do.
Darrens Blog'Jamie really bring his A game in one of the most personal shows I've ever seen him deliver...'open/close
The old saying goes that out of tragedy, comedy emerges.
Well, in Kiwi comic Jamie Bowen's new show, there's so much tragedy that it's inevitable that you end up with laughter.
Heart Goes Boom sees Jamie really bring his A game in one of the most personal shows I've ever seen him deliver. Which is perhaps inevitable given this show is about the loss of his father, his girlfriend and his professional path - it's a darkly comic look at one man's slide into an unenviable pit of despair.
But yet, thanks to a masterful performance from Bowen himself, and a fizzing energy that effervesces forth from the moment he understatedly walks out into a sold out Basement crowd on a grey drizzly Auckland night, it's a riotous - and well deserved -success.
Blending physicality and killer material, Jamie takes us on a journey that will leave you with aching sides and also an aching heart as he clutches the black humour from life's continual jabs.
From the bittersweet irony of his London career going so well to being brought back down to Earth by a single phone call from New Zealand, to the manner in which his father embraced the bleakest of news, this is a deeply personal show that touches the heart as much as it touches the funny bone.
And such a performer as Jamie is, he never loses sight of the fact that it's a show aimed at making you laugh as he ruminates on the absurdities of the hand life can deal you.
From his philosophy on how life is like a series of boxes (beautifully expanded from the 4 minute killer set he delivered at the Comedy Gala) to a lovely throwaway turn of phrase to a story on how he tried to help a homeless man on London, Heart Goes Boom never veers away from its MO - to leave you amused as well as thinking about life's more bizarre moments.
The at times manic Bowen manages to elicit huge amounts of empathy on the stage without ever directly seeking our sympathy; he's a masterful storyteller, stand-up and a man whose devilish twinkle in his eye is never lost when things get bad. It's an epic - yet deeply personal - journey, but one which never loses sight of the minutiae of life, reminding you of the moments which are there to savour, as well as bringing plenty of heart within the heartache. He's previously inherited character work but when it comes down to it, his comedy chops shine out because you just couldn't make this stuff up.
While Heart Goes Boom doesn't exactly lead to a massive epiphany (there are plenty of little ones dropped throughout the show, meaning you don't feel the massive cathartic release at the end), it does strike a chord thanks to Jamie's timing, extremely strong material and a willingness to laugh at himself as well as others. Audience interaction is thrown in - but it's restrained, amusing and makes Jamie seem highly approachable both on and off the stage.
In Heart Goes Boom, Jamie's delivered his finest hour of stand up - deftly blending richly resonant and bittersweet material with a physically infectious presence that's hard to deny.
Make no mistake - your heart will break for Jamie on this journey, but your funny bone and belly laughs will assure you that he's laughing along with it too.
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First off, this picture does not do Jamie’s beard justice. That is one hell of a beard.
A++ would beard again.
Secondly, Jamie has developed into quite a brilliant comic. He’s been around a while in New Zealand, has been nominated for a few top-flight awards but he’s never quite got there. His comedy was previously erratic. Frenetic as all hell, but patchy. He’s shelved 99.99% of the patchiness and is now something quite special.
He’s still frenetic though. This is comedy on P. He has boundless energy and throws himself around the stage and sometimes towards the audience with great affect. He talks at a million miles an hour and if you don’t keep up, well you’re going to miss out on some great gags.
It’s also comedy with heart. The show is a story of Jamie’s last 12 months(ish). And he’s had to deal with some shitty things. It’s another slice of this comedy-as-therapy that seems to be happening more and more frequently. It’s great, because we’re not finding out what the deal is with airline food, nor how annoying the blinky 12:00 light on the VCR is. It’s comedy that’s personal to the comic. And more of this please.
It’s also a risky way to go, which I guess is why so many shy away from it. As Jamie gives us another brick in the wall of his shitty year the audience gets sad. Each time Jamie brings the audience down I wait with trepidation to see if he’ll be able to bring them back up. And he does. Because he’s sufficiently funny. Every single time.
I think there’s a distinction between a funny comic and funny material. Some of Jamie’s material isn’t that funny, but because as an individual he’s so goddamn hilarious the audience doesn’t mind. We laugh along anyway. But the parts of the material that are funny then come together with the fact Jamie is naturally a funny guy and the result are some of the best gags of the festival. I think that when this perfect storm happened I probably laughed more, and louder than at any other show this year.
The show packs an emotional punch, all throughout too. It doesn’t finish on some big emotional climax, but rather has peaks and troughs spread out across the hour. Same with the laughs. There were gags coming that I thought would make great grand finale gags but they were done early. And then another one would come up. And another. And Jamie just found line after line, story after story, gag after gag to really really make you laugh.
Reuben Hilder - Theatreview.org.nz'Bowen also has great physicality and stage presence, summoning spectacular levels of energy for the high points in his show both with his voice and his body to create a tirade of hilarity which he hurls at the audience.'open/close
Jamie Bowen will laugh at anything and not long into his new show Heart Goes Boom, recently premiered at the Fortune Theatre Studio, that I find myself laughing with him. As the show progresses that sense of shared amusement remains and characterises his performance. I don't feel like I'm laughing at him or even that he is making me laugh but rather that he is recounting things that amuse him and we are sharing a laugh over them.
This, I feel, is one of the most challenging, but also most important skills for a stand-up to master. It is so much easier to have a good time when the man of the stage with the microphone is leading the way by example. There is a pleasure independent of what is being said – which in this case is very funny in its own right – in watching a performer enjoy themselves on stage.
Bowen also has great physicality and stage presence, summoning spectacular levels of energy for the high points in his show both with his voice and his body to create a tirade of hilarity which he hurls at the audience. Not that the entire show is like this. It is a mix of highs and lows that rises and falls masterfully – another important aspect of comedy some stand-ups struggle with.
A large portion of the show focuses on the recent hardships that Bowen has endured and many of the low points in his show centre around actually very tragic stories from Bowen's past, but Bowen always undercuts the tragedy by proceeding to laugh at what was, at the time, emotionally devastating for him. Bowen reminds us of H L Mencken's famous assertion, that “God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh,” assuring us that now, looking back, he sees the joke. And because he is laughing at the tragedy, we feel as if we can too.
Not that the whole show is about laughing at tragedy, although I would say that is the overall theme. Large portions of it go off on extensive stream-of-consciousness tangents. In addition, Bowen likes to make fun of his audience, singling out a reaction he finds amusing or making fun of someone for walking in late or using the toilet. This, taken out of context, may seem confrontational or even aggressive but Bowen treads carefully in these areas. He always makes it clear he is only jibing his victims in playful humour and if he sense that they aren't taking it as such, he backs off and always ends with an apology.
His humour is sometimes ludicrous and often crude, but what it always is, is very, very funny. A simply delightful evening,
This is the first stand-up show I've been too in a long time that actually made me think about stuff in my own life.
Bowen's show is based on his experiences having his life fall apart: going from opening to Rhys Darby on the comedy circuit to flying back to NZ for his father's death, a subsequent breakup and then a breakdown. It sounds horrible and awful, and it was at the time, but in Bowen's skilled hands, the experiences are touching and wonderfully funny.
Bowen brings a startling intensity to his show. At first glance, he slots pretty neatly into that Wellington hipster / could-be-a-lumberjack category of guy on the street. But his physicality changes constantly through the night, first as his hilarious alter-ego of a really camp Spanish man, his father, and a truly terrible maths / life-lesson teacher.
I've seen Bowen's energy described as manic, but it is too disciplined for that. What he does so well is demand that his audience keep pace, like in his bit about life being a series of different sized boxes. We want to laugh early, but the impact is so much greater when we have to hold on for the whole thing. It's a virtuoso bit of comedy, and I love it.
Heart Goes Boom is constantly skimming some heavy and deeply personal stuff. Bowen keeps dipping into the serious just long enough to land before exploding back into funny – that ‘manic' energy again. It's a tough job done well; the crowd tonight doesn't always want to go there, but we do. And the reward is always worth it, such as when Bowen describes his dad's last words.