The inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival runs June 17-27 at venues throughout Hollywood. To celebrate, this week is devoted to other people's shows via The Five Questions. (Yes, this series was supposed to end yesterday, but this one came back late.)
Abie Philbin Bowman has three shows at the festival - Jesus, the Guantanamo Years, Sex, Lies and the KKK and Echo-Friendly Jihad. He's also holding a one-man show workshop. Multiple venues & performance times with tickets range from $14 to $45.
I could talk about myself for an hour, but why should anyone listen? There are much more interesting things happening in the world.
I love comedy which challenges the way I think, or teaches me something about the world, or makes me laugh at how ridiculous my life is. So that's what I aim for.
Take climate change. All the experts are extremely pessimistic, saying that in 50 years time we'll have no polar ice caps, no rainforests, no ozone layer and no oil. That's pretty heavy. But the way I see it, in 50 years, I'll be in my 70s. So you and I are part of the luckiest generation ever. We're the only people in history who get contraception, iPods, cheap flights and an ozone layer.
How do you walk the line between polemic and entertainment?
If you preach to the audience, they get bored and zone out. So you have to make your point in an entertaining way. For example, if I read out a straight description of conditions in Guantánamo, most people can't relate. so I tell them "try to imagine a maximum security prison, designed and run by Kentucky Fried Chicken. There are battery-sized wiremesh cages, hideous uniforms and the staff are mostly teenagers". We can all imagine the horror of being trapped in our local KFC.
a potential HFF audience member could attend only one of your shows, how would you contrast the two shows to help them
The clue is in the name. If you enjoy jokes about American Christianity, see the Jesus show. If you want a comedy about climate change and terrorism watch 'Eco-Friendly Jihad'. If you prefer to laugh at racism and sex, go to 'Sex, Lies & the KKK'. They're all (hopefully) engaging, thought-provoking and very funny.
The only other notable difference is tone. When I'm playing Jesus I can be funny, and cutting, but I also have to be nice. Forgiveness is part of the job description.
Whereas when I'm playing myself - in 'Eco-Friendly Jihad' and 'Sex, Lies & the KKK' - I'm free to be a bit darker. I'm not a naturally nasty comedian - I don't pick on the audience. But I like exploring outrageous ideas and seeing how far I can bring the room with me.
do you most hope audiences take away from your works?
A sore belly (from laughing for an hour) and a couple of new ideas.
Anything you wanted to say, but I didn’t ask?
I also teach workshops on how to write and tour a one-person show. There is a lot of undiscovered talent in Hollywood. Writing a one-person show allows you to take control of your own career, showcase your work, and tour independently. I teach people the creative and marketing side of the business (both are vital). in particular, anyone looking to travel to the Edinburgh Fringe, I can save them a few thousand pounds.
Touring a one-person show isn't all good news. The cast parties are pretty dull. But the cost structure is great and nobody can outsource your job to China.