Jesus in Guantanamo

An article from the Ovi magazine

If Jesus Christ returned to Earth today, would He get through US immigration? After all, Jesus is a bearded, Middle-Eastern man, who wants to die as a religious martyr. And he has just walked out of a cave.

This is the premise behind Jesus: The Guantanamo Years – a one-man comedy show – which entered the iTunes Top 10 Comedy Chart * in Italy, Sweden, Holland, Ireland, Finland, Belgium, Denmark and Japan.

The debut from Dublin comedian Abie Philbin Bowman, the live version of Jesus: The Guantanamo Years proved a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Helped by an iconic poster (featuring Jesus in an orange jumpsuit), the show’s overnight success was reported by over 20 media outlets, with The Scotsman dubbing Abie “the face of this years’ [Edinburgh] Fringe”.

Following its triumph at Edinburgh, Jesus: The Guantanamo Years sold-out throughout Ireland and travelled to London’s West End. The show’s American debut was delayed, ironically, because of a hold-up at US immigration. When it finally arrived, the show played to rapturous audiences. “One evening, we had seven Protestant ministers laughing in the front row,” Abie recalls. “I’m glad they enjoyed the show. It would have been pretty ironic if they crucified me.”

In November 2007, Jesus: The Guantanamo Years represented Ireland at the World Performing Arts Festival in Pakistan. The script was changed to include references to the country’s unfolding political crisis, making Abie the only Irish comedian “stupid enough” to perform a religious, political satire in a Muslim nation, under a state of emergency.

Abie attributes the show’s success to its irreverent take on an important subject. “Guantanamo Bay is like a maximum security prison designed by Kentucky Fried Chicken: it has tiny wiremesh cages, soulless uniforms and teenage staff with no other career options.” The Irishman is eager to dismiss charges of blasphemy: “Guantanamo Bay is totally unchristian. I’m not a religious expert, but I’m pretty sure that telling jokes about God is not as blasphemous as torturing His children.”

“Way beyond superficial religious satire… Absorbing, intricately woven, challenging and highly entertaining.” – TimeOut

“The greatest stand-up story ever told… Funny, thoughtful, impassioned…Abie Philbin Bowman deserves a comic sainthood.” – The Stage

“A rising star on the Irish stand-up scene” – Time

* N.B. This chart is updated in real time and is subject to change. As of April 8th, 2008, Jesus: The Guantanamo Years was in the Top 10 Comedy Albums in all the countries listed above.)