MARKUS BIRDMAN in LOVE LIFE AND DEATH
13/05/2013 - 18/05/2013
NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013
WOKE UP ONE MORNING. HAD A STROKE … IF MARKUS BIRDMAN WERE A BLUES SINGER, HE’D GET A SONG OUT OF HAVING HIS BODY TURN AGAINST HIM AT THE SHOCKINGLY YOUNG AGE OF 40. AS HE’S A COMEDIAN, HE’S FORGED THE EXPERIENCE INTO A SHOW.
Death is still a very taboo subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. We all know it exists. We all realize that, someday we’ll have to go there, but we’re certainly in no rush. It’s like Disneyland in that respect, only with fewer balloons.
Death, Hamlet said, is the “undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns”. And that’s what scares us. Because who knows what DEATH actually is?
Well Markus does, at least, a little. At the age of forty, he had a stroke. Nothing will make you assess your life more keenly than the prospect of you imminently losing it! Eight months of heart recordings, blood tests, brain scans, swallowing cameras, and being injected with yellow radioactive stuff will do that. And what was that yellow stuff? Contrast fluid for angiography, apparently, not just something to amuse medics.
“By the close of this hugely enjoyable, sharply structured hour I was feeling glad to be here –vowing to grab life by the balls and determined to live long enough to see Birdman again next year.” The Scotsman
Markus Birdman is one of the leading comics on the UK and international live circuit. He regularly headlines the world famous Comedy Store and has performed sell out solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Adelaide Fringe, and the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Hehas delighted audiences from China to Mumbai, from Singapore to Sweden (in fairness he died on his backside in Germany). He has appeared on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio Wales and on BBC and ITV television shows in the UK as well as regular appearances on Paramount TV’s Comedy Central and Live at the Comedy Store. He has filmed comedy specials for Scandinavian TV (Kanal 5), and another in Holland (Vara TV)
“Birdman is the all-round package; witty, controversial, hip, topical and silly. A master of timing and physical comedy, he made me laugh so hard it hurt” – BBC
Birdman will appear in the 5 Star Comedy Tour during the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival.
As part of the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival
MARKUS BIRDMAN IN LOVE, LIFE AND DEATH
Date: Mon 13 – Sat 18 May, 7.15
Venue: The Classic Studio, Level One, 321 Queen St
Tickets: $25 – $28 (booking fees may apply)
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK www.ticketek.co.nz
For the sweetest deals and hottest comedy news throughout the Festival head to www.comedyfestival.co.nz
A shot in the arm of life
Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 14th May 2013
I know very little of Markus Birdman. Until he came here to NZ I had not bumped into him on my travels across the comedy circuit in the UK. I wish I had, as I would have encouraged everyone I know in Auckland to join me last night for the opening of his show.
His backdrop alone (which I have bets on that he made himself) is stunning and gives me plenty to think about on life, love and death as we wait for him to take to the stage.
It’s a chilly Monday night and there are gaps in the seating as he asks, “How many of you are here because you missed out on tickets to another show?” It is never easy to open a show to a less than jam-packed room of people but his fantastically chatty nature, open face and warm grin has us all enraptured in him fairly smartly.
Love, Life and Death is my favourite kind of comedy show to watch. It is not a ramshackle collection of jokes spilling out in haphazard order, there is a definite structure and Birdman is a deft story teller. Richly mining his own life of its chief tragedies, he takes us on a journey of japes surrounding his various misfortunes and maladies.
At 40 he had a stroke that he mistook for a hangover; he has been both wedged into and hooked up to machines, swallowed tubes and been probed about intravenous drug use and his sexual preferences. His stroke left him a bit blind, and even that has us all in giggles as he explains how awkward having a quadrant of sight missing can be.
Not only has he been ill but he is ‘old’ (42); so old that he lingers over cardies, his feet swell on long flights, he is separated, a single dad, he has been best man four times yet doesn’t believe in marriage. Despite being raised in the church with a father and an uncle preaching faith, he is an atheist; in fact for a while there he was a Goth. And yes, he did indeed draw the spectacular backdrop telling us, “Six years at art college and this is all I have to show for it.”
Not that he wants sympathy. This show is not a “poor me” rant. Markus is philosophical about death, and certainly not afraid of it. His attitudes to his failed faith bring easy laughs for us all. Markus is talking to us about stuff that we are all facing, have faced or will face. In all honesty I believe these are the three biggest reasons why people laugh and for our modest size we are doing so in force.
The second half of the hour sees the pace quicken and laughs gather momentum as he begins to explain his six tips for living. I want you to go and see this show so I will refrain from explaining these, or indeed how he wraps the whole show up. If I had to give you a word, that word would be: beautiful.
This is easily one of the best shows I have seen in the festival so far. For the humanism, the honesty, the journey, the fact that as the butt of every well penned joke Birdman is warm, good humoured, positive. Here is not a hapless victim, here is a man celebrating.
For anyone who has ever been challenged by their health, love or loss SEE THIS SHOW and know that when he says, “Don’t worry, this story ends well,” he is saying so because at the very deepest level, how any story ends really relies on the open positivity of the teller.
A shot in the arm of life is Birdman, do not dither about booking your ticket. If Auckland knows what is good for it, his season will sell out.
If it is true that the way to avoid death is to be magnificent then I should imagine Markus Birdman will live a good long time, possibly forever.
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