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Pope Benedict: Bond Villain
Published on Tuesday, 26 April 2011
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Upstairs at Three and Ten (venue website)
Comedy
22-23 May, 10:00pm-11:00pm; 19-20 May, 8:30pm-9:30pm

 Suitable for age 15+ only.
 Warning: Contains strong language.

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Well, this is dangerous.  The very title of this show will be deeply offensive to many – and the decision to recommend it isn’t one we took lightly.  But unlike many who tackle this subject, Irishman Abie Philbin Bowman never resorts to lazy jeering.  His challenging, controversial and witty stand-up act has a deeply thoughtful core – and stands as an exemplar of how edgy comedy should be done.

So we thought, at least, when we reviewed last year’s show, the scarcely-less-scandalous Jesus: The Guantánamo Years.  Postulating that the Catholic mass was all a joke gone wrong, it contrived to be both outrageous and insightful; it’s a tribute to Philbin Bowman’s sincerity that you needed a working knowledge of scripture to follow it all.  His strongest material, we felt, came when drew incongruous modern parallels with ancient Catholic practice, prodding at the traditions while respecting core beliefs.  And with its striking premise that the Pope is an undercover Bond villain, we’re hoping this new show will do more of the same.

Above all, Philbin Bowman’s a deeply personable performer; after tours to places as diverse as Hollywood and Pakistan, we’re delighted to see him back in Brighton.  He’s a prolific contributor to the Irish media, too – where he’s both been boycotted by the DUP and had a very public spat with Sinn Féin.  If there is a world beyond this one, he argues, God surely wants us to laugh; and we’re sure this show will offer both wit and wisdom, from a comedian we trust to stay this side of the truly uncrossable lines.

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