REVIEW: Profound moments and marijuana plots in Spiegel Fest show

Profound, life changing moments can appear in the strangest and least likely of places.

On any given day your routine could be suddenly thrown into beautiful chaos by a seemingly insignificant little moment. What the moment could be will vary wildly from person to person, but for Jamie Bowen it involved a four-year-old girl, her sandwich and her steadfast refusal for her enjoyment of eating that sandwich to be ruined by anyone or anything.

Jamie Bowen: It Happened Then, Now
Spiegel Fest
November 22

For this reviewer, a profound, life changing moment came in watching this master story-teller weaving his magic. A connection, a change in thought patterns, a realisation that may very well change my entire approach to life and the challenges it presents… but more on that later.

Gloriously draped in black against the grandeur of the Spiegeltent, Jamie made his entrance like a mate sliding up to the leaner at your favourite pub. The cool mate you tell your family about, laid back, outrageously funny, quick witted and genuine.

Straight off the bat the banter between himself and the already well lubricated audience began, Bowen eats up interaction with his new found friends and is always willing to take a bit of stick if it means he can give it back 10-fold (which he can and does).  He is brilliantly funny, and intelligent, observations on human existence and the futility therein, abound.

From a comedy show, one would expect laughs aplenty, and there were. But in this slick, fast paced set we were treated to something much harder to come by, thoughtfulness and philosophy.

Bowen regaled us with tales from his battles with depression, taking us with him into the struggles he fought against his own mind. He welcomes the audience to share their experiences with depression and this reviewer shares a snippet of his own battle.

And that is where the shift occurred, this was more than just a comedy show, it is a call to arms to normalise discussions on mental health. In a world where we struggle to share our experiences, here we had an audience listening to a man tell us that life isn’t easy and that that’s OK. To find those small moments, the little, insignificant moments that may normally pass us by and to find the beauty therein. It could be a girl and her sandwich, it could be sharing a human experience with a stranger on a stage. Whatever it is, hold on to it and know that whatever you’re going through, any small moment can completely change your trajectory for the better.

In a wonderful innovation from Bowen, It Happened Then, Now is split in to two halves. The first is his stand-up routine, complete with life changing moments, the second half consists of Bowen interviewing a guest.

He tells us that he has interviewed several people during the run of this show including musicians, mayors and everything in between. Tonight, we are treated to Taranaki’s own Patrick Gower, Newshub reporter and more recently marijuana documentary maker.

Paddy is already several beers down before he is invited up to the stage, although immaculately presented he weaves his way up to his seat, plops his beer down and launches in to the wildest, most hilarious interview you could imagine.

The face of TV3 political reporting for a decade, the charming, intelligent journalist we all know and love is suddenly swearing like a sailor, telling us about the secret “Gower family marijuana plot” growing in the fernery at Pukekura Park and constantly ribbing Bowen.

The audience is enamoured, this new side to Paddy Gower is refreshing and human and utterly side-splittingly hilarious. If Paddy ever decides to leave journalism he has a very promising career ahead in public speaking and comedy (Or perhaps growing marijuana).

Of course, as the theme of Bowen’s show is all about those little moments that shape our lives, Gower is asked about his little moment. The more serious side comes back and suddenly we are transported back to March 15, Christchurch. A chance meeting in a park, a story the nation and the world will never forget and Patrick Gower expressing himself both as a journalist and as a Kiwi in those tragic hours and days. It would be amiss to reveal his story in full, but his chance meeting in a Christchurch park changed his life and career forever. Tiny moment, huge shift.

Bowen has created something genuine and fresh, the stand up alone is worthy of praise, the innovation of the interviews are worthy of repeat viewings. Together they are beautiful, thought provoking, outrageously funny and life changing.

Jamie Bowen: It Happened Then, Now is a part of the Spiegel Fest in Taranaki, which runs until December 1. For more information or for tickets visit