[Probably needs an Audience]
The only thing worse than seeing a bad comic, is seeing a good comic struggle. The Herald Theatre holds over 100 seats, but on the third night of his show, She Was Probably Not A Robot, comedian Stuart Bowden played to less than 20 people. This is no fault on Bowden’s part, in fact, he gives commendable commitment to the performance regardless of the incredibly quiet crowd, which, while should be expected of any performer, is not always the case.
Bowden also has a particular charm on stage. He’s quick-witted without being cocky, confident without being arrogant, and friendly without being sycophantic. The only problem is that this predominantly narrative-driven show requires audiences to engage beyond the typically New Zealand laid-back “entertain me” attitude, which would be fine, if the story had more with which to engage.
The end of the world is a tried and true situational staple in story-telling, but without showing us life before, it’s difficult to empathise with the romantic content unless revealed in an Aristotelian revelation or dramatic irony. Bowden has skill both with clowning and music, but the latter feels limited as a component to the spectacle element of the show, and if used as consistently to the physical element, could allow the show to carry above and beyond its current restraints.
Criticism of content aside, Bowden may have no control over his choice of venue or the audience he draws, but, with a big enough crowd of enthusiastic punters, I have no doubt the rest of She Was Probably Not A Robot‘s season can guarantee more laughs than last night.
She Was Probably Not a Robot is performed by Stuart Bowden and plays at The Herald as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2016 until April 30. For details see Comedy Festival.
SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Nik Smythe