Controversial comic coming to Eastbourne

Abie Philbin Bowman
Abie Philbin Bowman

Preview: Abie Philbin Bowman, Printers Bar, Station Street, Thursday, September 1, 8pm.

ABIE Philbin Bowman has been boycotted by Ian Paisley’s DUP and endorsed by Osama bin Laden, is the only Western stand-up to have performed religious, political comedy in Pakistan during the 2007 State of Emergency and on Barack Obama’s election night he scooped CNN, BBC and Reuters by exclusively interviewing the Ku Klux Klan.

Not bad for a fast-emerging comic still under 30.

This Thursday though, Bowman, who was described by TIME magazine as “a rising star”, is showcasing his blossoming talents at Stand Up Eastbourne – fresh from a hugely well-received stint at Edinburgh.

A controversial funnyman, he first took the Scottish comedy capital by storm back in 2006 with his debut solo show, Jesus: The Guantanamo Years. The plot was simple: Christ returns to earth but doesn’t get through US immigration. He’s a bearded, Middle-Eastern guy, who wants to die as a martyr.

The show sold out at Edinburgh for three years running and entered the top ten comedy albums across Europe and in Japan. In Belfast, the show survived a bomb scare and was boycotted by Ian Paisley’s DUP.

Bowman’s second solo show, Eco-Friendly Jihad, suggested we could radically reduce carbon emissions by joining Al Qaeda. “Who else can save the planet from airlines, oil-companies and overpopulation?” he mused. Eco-Friendly Jihad sold out early dates but subsequent touring was cut short when Bowman was offered his own radio show.

From November 2008 to May 2009 he interviewed a host of strange and eclectic guests, including Channel 4 News anchor, Jon Snow; Woodstock veteran, Arlo Guthrie; World Pillow Fight Champion, Carmen Monoxide; former Guantanamo inmate, Moazzam Begg; and National Membership Director of the Ku Klux Klan, Dr Travis Pierce.

It is fair to say then, that the areas plundered by his comedic piracy are as diverse as any you are likely to find on the circuit.

Last year an influential US comedy website listed him as one of five UK acts you need to know and his show Sex, Lies and the KKK saw him build on his previous success and, perhaps most strangely, Al Qaeda began referencing him in video tapes.

In perhaps the most random bout of ‘you couldn’t make it up’ness, a pair of audio tapes released by Osama bin Laden carried on where Eco-Friendly Jihad had left off, with the world’s then #1 terrorist blaming the USA for climate change. Abie though, was the first to point out that if Al Qaeda are serious about tackling climate change, they need to stop bombing public transport. This week he brings his newest – and no less controversial – show Pop Benedict: Bond Villain to the Sunshine Coast.

In a routine sure to go some way to building bridges with Ian Paisley, Bowman questions whether or not the head of the Catholic church is infallible or, as Bowman suspects, the ultimate Bond Villain – boasting as he does a creepy German accent, a priceless art collection, diplomatic immunity and the delightfully sinister real name of Ratzinger.

A comedy star on the rise and one to see in the intimate surroundings of Printers before he hits the mainstream.

Support comes from Kate Lucas and Kristof Micholt.