Jesus: The Guantanamo Years

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett


The idea of Christianity being a joke isn't a new one: there's
a whole group of theologians who believe the Old Testament is
one large satirical piece on the established gods of the time.
This show takes a rather different approach, running with the
concept that Jesus was real, was actually the son of God, but
wasn't a prophet but a stand-up comic. And under this guise Abie
Philbein Bowman delivers his comeback tour.

The high concept of the show opens the door for some new takes
on old subjects such as drugs, World War Two and Guantanamo Bay.
For example, a set-up about a child's parents being upset about
being put into a home for the elderly is given a new lease of
life when it's God complaining to Jesus that the home is literally
'full of dead people'. The show also touches on more topical
subjects, with some clever references to Mel Smith and Scotland's
smoking ban.

If this all sounds a little like Life of Brian, you'll be
pleased to know there's some references to this in the show.
Early in the show 'Jesus' announces that they stole a lot of
his best material, and as such he'll be stealing some of theirs,
leading to a delightful parody of the Dead Parrot sketch.

Alas there are some downsides to the show including an unnecessary
serious bit which just feels out of place, and some bad lighting
choices that can be quite distracting. Worst of all, around 35
minutes in, we get treated to two song parodies. They're not
particularly bad, but nor are they especially great; the trouble
is there's only a very loose justification for why the Jesus
character would be playing these songs. They ppear to be taken
straight out of Bowman's' stand-up set, and don't fit at all.
It would seem Bowman ran out of ideas and so shoehorned in some
of his earlier work to bulk the show up to the already short-for-the-fringe
50-minute running time.

This is half of a great show that raises some interesting
points about the nature of comedy and the hero-worship some comics
inspire. The idea of the Christianity having been spread by stand-up
fans quoting Jesus's material and hanging on his every word may
seem preposterous. But then you meet a twenty-something that
tells you in all seriousness that any comics that ever do advertising
work cannot be taken serious, since Bill Hicks said so, and suddenly
it goes from 'preposterous' to just 'very unlikely'.

It's just a shame Bowman didn't take another year to truly
produce a proper and full show on such an interesting theme.

Dean Love

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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