Byron Bowers Impresses at Legends
Meghan Cleary | Sunday, March 23, 2014
On Friday evening, Student Union Board brought comedian Byron Bowers to Legends. After having previously seen some of Bowers’ stand-up performances online, there was an apprehensive air to what the audience response would be. Honestly, I cannot recall a time I had laughed so hard, for so long. Byron Bowers, along with his opener, senior Jackie Garvin, really hit the key stand-up tactics that kept the audience laughing throughout.
Garvin took the stage at 10 p.m. and provoked chuckles immediately. We frequently find ourselves laughing at jokes where the explanation is, “It’s funny because it’s true.” Not only did Garvin’s jokes take hold of this concept, but they were tailored perfectly to the college student demographic that laid in front of him. Garvin touched on the tension for the last hard-boiled egg in South Dining Hall. He gave us a nostalgic journey back to the days of “Toy Story” and Lunchables. Garvin managed to transcend the general concept to a smaller scale of the audience, through an even smaller scale of his personal story, and the laughter amongst the audience was already impressively well-established for Bowers’ entrance.
In Sigmund Freud’s “Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious,” Freud discusses the differences between joke and jest. Joke being the more developed version of jest, the main difference is that there is a “victim.” Part of what makes this joke laughable is that the “victim” is telling the joke, or rather, the comedian is poking fun at themselves, as Bowers did expertly.
Along with this, comedy is considered to be laughable when there is a sense of absurdity to it. Bowers was quick to take any relatable idea and bring forth comedy in blowing it out of proportion. “Yeah, I remember when I was in college. Do any of you mismanage your student loans? I mismanaged my student loans. I bought five cars.” While the development of this question built a relationship with broke college students, the last statement was paired with a burst of laughter. Jokes like this were common and consistently coming from Bowers, much to the audience’s pleasure.
Another very impressive aspect of Bowers’ performance was his improvisational skill. Many comedians take the time to meticulously plan out their jokes, as does Bowers. Very few comedians set themselves up to display their ability to think on their feet. At a certain point, Bowers asked audience members, “What is the weirdest major on campus? What is your major?” When given responses, he would delve into what was funny about each. Science-Business was thrown Bowers’ way, and without hesitation, jokes alluding to a Walter White lifestyle were bouncing back at the audience. Bowers’ interaction with the audience, and consistent question asking, was remarkable. Along with this, it was a true testament to his abilities as a stand-up comedian.
Using these comedic strategies, Bowers warmed the audience up for a step beyond the comfort zone. Jokes that may not be passable in an immediate presentation worked so well because Bowers took the time to “get to know everyone.” Jokes that frequently are followed up with, “Too soon,” worked perfectly because he kept things tasteful and placed jokes appropriately throughout the show.
Both Garvin and Bowers performed outstandingly at Legends. This show was certainly worth the trip and keeps me on my toes for the next Student Union Board comedy show.