Kiwi comedian Jake Howie has learnt how to maintain his sparkle, but it hasn't been an easy road.
What's a sparkle, you ask? Well, it's that glow within, the glimmer of hope that keeps you going. Life's hurdles have meant Jake hasn't always had it easy. . . His sparkle has certainly been tested – and in his aptly-named live show 'Sparkle', he'll explore that time he got more than he expected in attendance of his best friend's wedding.
The show is a cabaret comedy extravaganza from a comedian who has played throughout the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Here, Jake spills on all things 'Sparkle'.
Tell us a bit about 'Sparkle'. 'Sparkle' is the story of how I went to my best friend's wedding to be confronted by an ex-boyfriend who'd told me I was too much. I take you on a journey of how, despite life's hurdles and a few hilariously detailed stories involving a seduction gone wrong, I have embraced my sparkle and now realise that anyone who says you're too much just isn't enough. And speaking of my ex – f... you, Ricardo (jk jk, loving kindness).
Why did you decide to take this subject matter and make it into a stand-up set? Buzzword alert – I wanted to embrace authenticity. . . Heard of it? Caveat – this show isn't 'authentic' in a Gwyneth Paltrow-filtered-Paleo-Goop-steam-your-vag kind of way that disregards the messiness and weirdness of the human experience. I go deep into my most humiliating moments. But I wrote this as a love letter to myself, particularly the soon-to-be-gay, zit-infested version of myself who felt I was too much and not enough all at once. To the younger me, the one who started a Buffy fan club at school in 1999 to pretend I wanted to kiss Sarah Michelle when I was really just getting fizzy balls over Angel – this one's for you, you beautiful, sparkly boy!
What are you hoping audiences take away from it? It's an hour of pure joy! After the year that was, there is no preaching, no politics, no piss-takes. I have branded it 'the Lizzo of stand-up shows' – it's joyous, it'll leave you feeling happier, and it will sparkle!
How does the creation of a set begin for you? I always want to give people what they don't get elsewhere. After 2020, we could all do with some joy and we could all do with some laughter, so I wrote 'Sparkle' to tell one of my stories in a way that is nothing but joyful.
And how long did it take for you to get this show from paper to stage? Given that 2020 didn't exist, this show has been three years in the making! It started off as a f... you to an ex-boyfriend, but as the years have evolved it has become a comedy-cabaret extravaganza that is my personality condensed into an hour.
What are you most excited for about live comedy returning? Please don't think I am a complete asshole for this, but I just missed making people laugh and telling my story in a really authentic (oh god, am I Gwyneth?!) way to allow people to own themselves more. We all used to be these confident, who-gives-a-f... kids and then self-doubt sets in as the pubes do. It's very unfair. So, if I can help people find their childhood confidence through laughter, I'm in!
What's the most productive thing you did during lockdown? As basic as it is, I cooked like crazy. I'm married to an Italian and my mother-in-law would give me live cooking lessons so I can now make the best cannelloni, lasagne, ragu, carbonara. . . You name it, I'll cook it (including cock, but the oven is my mouth) jk jk (also serious but kinda jk).
What's one thing you do every day to ensure your sparkle is kept alive? Listen to good music, laugh as much as you can, and remember that everyone has a bum hole, we're all going to die and nothing really matters. That way, you can add a pinch of "who gives a fuck" to everything you do and always show up as your genuine self without worrying about what some basic f... has to say.
What's next for Jake Howie? I'm recording an album of duet standards with Tony Bennett! Nah, jk jk. I am hosting a weekly trivia night at Harpoon Harry at Surry Hills (every Tuesday at 7pm, and it's free!) and I am writing my 2022 show that I'm taking to all the comedy festivals.
Jake Howie plays Factory Theatre (Sydney Comedy Festival) 22-24 April.