Heart Goes Boom / Head Goes Bang

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1 October, Spiegeltent

Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival 2017

I wasn’t sure what I was in store for tonight. I hadn’t been to a stand-up comedy show for years and I knew nothing about Jamie Bowen. But, as the sold-out Spiegeltent was told in the introduction to Jamie Bowen to prepare to peel back the skin and dive in deep, I had a feeling it was going to be an interesting evening.

Jamie’s routine was an amalgamation of highlights from not-quite-award-winning sets, and centred around a dark period in his life that saw him living in grim London, where his girlfriend left him, and when his father died. He reassured the audience that we needn’t worry, that he had come to terms with it all and that he wouldn’t be sitting in a corner, rocking back and forth and masturbating – unless of course, we all wanted him to.

Jamie took to grimly depressing London, and most memorably a tube ride with a man trying to get his penis as close to Jamie’s nose as possible. His return to New Zealand coincided with his discovery of Tinder which led to some funny stories, one in New Plymouth and one of which told of how he met his partner. Single, drinking a lot and dealing with the weight of grief gave Jamie time for a lot of introspection and existential thought, and like many artists he found inspiration from these dark times.

Jamie has obviously been on a long, emotional journey and it takes a lot of bravery to use this as his source of comedy. The crowd seemed to appreciate the emotional weight of what Jamie was referring to and enjoyed seeing the light side of it all. The set was made so much more interesting because the material came from a personal and honest context. It felt like the experience of turning grief and depression into humour was cathartic for Jamie and this made the show feel like an intimate conversation, a funny one.

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