ComedyReviewSouth WestStand Up

Josh Howie’s Messed Up – Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter 

Writer &Performer: Josh Howie 
Reviewer: Bethan Highgate-Betts 
Josh Howie wants to find what presses our buttons. He revels in it, and why not? It is endlessly fascinating what some people find ‘too far’ in the realms of comedy and where we all differ drawing the line.  
tell-us-block_editedThroughout this hour-long show, we are treated to a tongue in cheek insight into Howie’s life. The married father of four tells us stories ranging from the birth of his children to his love of hip hop. Self-deprecating and cheeky, he is an absorbing performer. It was not, however, the most relaxing of hours, with stilted audience interaction and material that clearly split the room, the atmosphere was somewhat tense.  
Throughout the performance, you can’t help but draw comparisons to Michael McIntyre and Jimmy Carr, especially when making light of some more serious subjects. The difference being, however, that we know and trust the likes of McIntyre and Carr. The same cannot be said for Howie. As an audience, it is hard to trust someone you’re not familiar with, with the weight of these big subjects. Especially when there is no clever reveal, he’s not building to anything bigger, it is just punchline after punchline in an endless string of risqué jokes.  
For the first 10 minutes, it actually felt like straight up satire of one of the bigger comics, sweeping statements, anecdotes about his wife, jokes aimed at specific audience members. Like at any minute he was going to get on with the actual show, but alas 10 minutes turned into 60 and nothing changed. 
Howie uses the phrase “I hope no one thinks I’m being serious” a lot throughout the show. Its prominence seems more like a get-out clause than anything else and echoes the childish “only joking” that can be heard on playgrounds throughout the country. This does lend itself to Howie’s boyish charm, something that warms you to him as a performer –even when questioning his material.  
There was a moment in his show when he asked a member of the audience a question and her response was that a certain word Howie had used in the show offended her. He continued using it, because – as he said, it was his show. But he also referred to this moment as a ‘heckle‘, if you ask someone for their opinion and then do not like their answer, it is not a heckle. What ensued was a lengthy and awkward exchange that highlighted how unprepared for criticism Howie is.  
There were glimmers of greatness where wit shone through but they were, unfortunately, few and far between.  
Reviewed on 20 November 2016 then continuing to tour |  Image: Contributed

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