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The funny side of global warming and jihad

  • Story Highlights
  • Comedian Abie Philbin Bowman tackles global warming in his new show
  • "Eco-Friendly Jihad" has had mixed reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • Bowman says every political joke should reveal an 'inconvenient truth'
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By Jessica Daly
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Global warming and the state of the planet aren't exactly laughing matters, but for comedian Abie Philbin Bowman, the dire environmental outlook has at least one bright side.

Abie Philbin Bowman sees the funny side of global warming at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Abie Philbin Bowman sees the funny side of global warming at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

"In 50 years, my generation will be in its 70s and we'll be able to boast that we were the only generation to have contraception, iPods, cheap flights and an ozone layer."

If the New Economics Foundation's current predictions are correct and we have only 100 months to come up with a solution to reverse the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, then Bowman won't even reach 40 before he can begin to exalt the 'benefits' of being a Gen-Yer.

In the meantime, he's using climate change and terrorism as material for his latest comedy offering at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, "Eco-Friendly Jihad."

Bowman told CNN it's the over reaction to terrorism and comparative under reaction to global warming that has his central character -- a Bangladeshi environmentalist -- on a mission to join Al Qaeda in an effort to reduce global carbon emissions.

"The longer we do nothing, the more radical the action we will ultimately have to take. The most extreme strategy would be to start killing the world's worst polluters -- Westerners -- preferably in a way which discourages others from flying," he said.

And so begins the eco-friendly jihad.

Having grown up in a country plagued by domestic terrorism for three decades, the Irish comic insists he is staunchly anti-terrorism, but he told CNN he was ready to go where no one else will.

"It's much more fun to tell jokes about religious nuts and neo-cons, but the whole point of any political joke is to reveal an 'inconvenient truth.'

"Climate change is the biggest crisis in the history of the world and for a political humorist it's not inherently funny, but it's something that no one wants to talk about."

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Susan Mansfield said as much in her review of the show for "The Scotsman": "Bowman has a gift for winning an audience over, and coaxing original, friendly humour from subjects that are neither friendly nor funny."

She adds: "he's done his homework, and there are plenty of facts here, but the underlying message is a bleak one: as long as we continue being middle-class consumers, it ain't looking good for the human race."

On debut in 2006, Bowman took the Edinburgh Fringe Festival by storm with "Jesus: The Guantanamo Years", which he then toured for 18 months. Having had the success that comes with five-star reviews and a run of sold out performances, he seems a little underwhelmed by the response to "Eco-Friendly Jihad."

Rather than pan the show as extremist, one reviewer thought he didn't go far enough: "he should hold back less and plunge the knife in further. Not only does Bowman get better laughs when he's being more controversial, he also makes you think more."

But Bowman counters saying that he wouldn't go as far as to actually advocate people join Al Qaeda to save the planet. After all, this is comedy.

"I didn't personally design climate change and I probably can't solve it in an hour," he jokes.

So what then does he want his audience to walk away thinking?

"I guess I want people to start out by being honest. To say 'okay, we are destroying the planet and we are either okay or not okay with that'. People will have to make a decision as to whether or not to then change their behavior."

Bowman says until now he's adopted the 'every little bit counts' approach to climate change abatement, but concedes it's not enough.

"Buy some locally-produced potatoes, a few energy-saving light bulbs, put them all in a re-usable plastic bag and don't think twice about your weekend break in Paris."

On a serious note, he adds: "People are causing the ultimate destruction of the environment and essentially our fate is in our hands."

And that's no laughing matter.

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