If it’s any indication of a downer, I’m going to start this year (or blog) off with a death.
A little history about me: I first started the comedy open mic scene two years ago in L.A. There were open mics aplenty and an over-saturation of aspiring comics, which made it hard to stand out. Jokes told on stage felt commonplace; open mic-ers were dipping into the same well of popular culture.
A few comics stood out for me like Claire Titelman, Aparna Nancherla or Omar Nava but one particular comic really made an impression: Angelo Bowers.
This is what he looked like. Imagine a portly man, dressed in a long-sleeved plaid shirt, always carries a backpack. If that wasn’t enough of a trait, picture him with glasses and a manageable-sized afro. He’s likeable and meets you with either a hug or a handshake. He’s complimentary. And funny. How funny? So, funny you need a swear word as an adverb like “he’s fucking funny.”
I don’t know him personally. In fact, the only time we talked was me telling him how much I really love his stuff. He thanked me and told me he loved my stuff as well. In retrospect, I bet he told all the new open mic-ers that. You know, so that their spirits would not be crushed.
There’s always jealousy when he goes takes the mic because of his stage presence and the material he comes up with. He does these one-liners that comics wished they had come up with and he kills. Every time, I’ve seen him in the spotlight at some cafe or club, he always kills. Even when he’s testing out a bit. He kills.
It’s weird given the quality of his material, he never got that break. Maybe it’s because he eschewed an online presence (he has nary a Facebook or a Twitter account). He was an almost-Salinger but he was funny.
On January 3, somewhen in the evening, Bowers died in a car crash. He and his best friend, Josh Adam Meyers, were driving, enjoying the cool of the night, maybe talking about their plans for the new year, new beginnings, when they were hit by a drunk driver. The impact caused the two men to be flung out of the vehicle. Laughspin has more information.
Get on Twitter and search for “Angelo Bowers” and you’ll see an outpour of tweets of remembrance and tributes to Bowers. Most of the tweets were jokes from Bowers’ set like -
Growing up in Connecticut was hard. I once saw a man throw a Frasier DVD at another man.
I was told it’s rude to pee in the shower… when you’re on a tour of Auschwitz.
Santa Barbara is a party town man, such a party town. A cop pulled me over and gave me a ticket… to Van Halen.
My grandma always says ‘life be about bitches and smokin’ weed.’ Because my grandma is Ghostface Killah.
And so on and so forth.
Even after I left L.A., I still remember Bowers, in his plaid shirt. The spotlight trained on him, making his unkempt hair look ablaze, how it haloes his cherubic face; Bowers, who doesn’t look like your typical comic but more of a transient who just wandered in and somehow stumbled onto the stage, slaying us with punchline after punchline as he though he had been doing this forever…