Byron Bowers is a super funny Atlanta comic currently in LA. If I were to describe him, he would be a politely edgy guy. He’s constantly performing at all different styles of clubs/rooms, so he clearly loves comedy. He’s a great guy that you should get to know better. Thankfully this interview is here for you to do that! We talk the transformation from getting bullied to being the bully, Nerf balls, kissing and racism! Go on and get into this one guys, you’ll love it.
Serial Optimist: Hello Byron! We appreciate you talking with us! How about we start with this, what did you do today?
Byron Bowers: I tried not to masturbate… It’s 4:30 in the morning and raining. I hear the water hitting the concrete outside providing the backdrop to Curtis Mayfield’s Short Eyes. I booked a show, went to a celebratory dinner at Benihana’s and drank a bottle of Sake. I don’t drink that much so I turned into a kid trying to make everyone at the table do the wave. Then I went to two comedy shows.
SO: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with the wave. And speaking of being a kid, did you enjoy your childhood growing up in Atlanta?
Byron: Didn’t really enjoy it too much at the time. I was born in Athens, and then moved to Atlanta when I was 7, then back to Athens like a year later, then back to Atlanta a year later. There was a lot of not fitting in which continues to this day. Wait…There is funny in this answer somewhere.
SO: Not fitting in is funny because everyone can relate! Around what age were you when you started liking comedy? Who are your top three guys or gals?
Byron: My Aunt says I told her I wanted to be a comedian when I was like 6 or 7, but I don’t recall that. I do know the first comedy I remember liking was The Golden Child with Eddie Murphy. But it wasn’t until my Mom dropped the Martin Lawrence Live album Talking Sh#t on my desk one day. I believe she thought it was music and it was. I was like fourteen or fifteen. My top three comedians now…Pryor, Bill Hicks, Ellen DeGeneres.
SO: What does your mom think about you being a stand up comedian?
Byron: I don’t think she hates it, but I probably would get more support if I sold drugs or pimped women because she could explain to me why it’s wrong. But she can’t say comedy is illegal and God don’t like it.
SO: Ha! Comedy is honestly the best! So, to stay on the younger years, what was school life like for you? Were you more of a nerd or someone who hated it?
Byron: I loved school. I had free meals so the food was worth the 10 hours. The work was super easy (Nerd). I took advanced classes since elementary but I wasn’t challenged so that lead to trouble. I was only a B average student at my school [and] spent more time in the hall than in the classroom. I did a ton of day dreaming and drawing. I got bullied and teased A LOT until the 11th grade when I joined the basketball team. I went from being bullied to being a bully, it was great. School was my playground; my escape or drug. It took my mind off [of] what was going [on] at home emotionally.
SO: There are a lot of ups and downs in that answer. As you left Georgia, why did you make the move to LA when you did? Was there some sort of catalyst?
Byron: I remember I started doing these one night-ers on the road in one of these little Red Neck towns in the south. I’m on stage expressing these far out edgy ideas that were far from what the Bible belt was used to, and I would get laughs. But the person would come on after me and do some bulls#t and kill. I said to myself I could either change my act or move. Like a year later I was in L.A.
SO: Do you have any road stories you’d like to share? What’s the craziest, or funniest thing that happened to you after/during a show?
Byron: I kissed an Afghan lady one time and everybody went nuts. It was scary, crazy and fun at the same time. That was like an orgasm for me. After that I was pretty calm the rest of the trip.
Where I’m from the audience BOO comedians a lot. They even find creative ways to BOO comics, like they have a key night. One show they gave the audience nerf balls and I got a nerf ball thrown at me. I dodged it then I got hit in the eye with another one. How do you come back to that?
This lady heckled me once and took over my show. I roasted her so hard she started crying. The club wanted me to apologize because it was her birthday.
I scared a whole black audience in the south talking about the illuminati once. I thought they were ready, but I was a year too early.
Somebody had their Chihuahua in the club once (California of course) so I brought the dog on stage. The owner told me if I sing Happy Birthday the dog will howl the song with me. I said “F#ck your Dog” and dry humped the Chihuahua. The crowd went nuts.
I was doing a show for the troops and said, “Clap for our FAG” instead of Flag.
I told a loud Vietnamese lady in the audience to “Shut Up Go#k!!” and she yelled back “You shut up N#gga!!” and this loud bar was quiet for the rest of the night.
I’ve kissed old women in the front row just to get that old vag moist…you know what I’m saying right? And one time this old lady got up and ran. Come to find out that she didn’t fancy the negros. LOL.
That’s all I can remember for now.
Byron Bowers “Slavery” at The Laugh Factory
SO: Yikes Byron! Kissing seems to be a “thing” for you. So, being new to LA, were you excited about all the different places/stages to perform? Where is your favorite and least favorite place to do comedy?
Byron: Coming to Los Angeles, I wanted to be a paid regular at the same clubs that all of the legends were paid regulars at. So the first club my heart was set on was the world famous Comedy Store, which I got into third after The Ice House and the Hollywood Improv. I can’t name a favorite place to perform because they all work different muscles. Late at the Comedy Store is great, so is early at The Comedy and Magic Club. Those clubs mirror each other. The Meltdown is mirroring Tiger Lily. The J Spot mirrors The Comedy Union. They are the ying and yangs. I need them all to be complete.
SO: That’s the best answer to that question. Now, when you write/perform your material, what draws you to the subject of race? What makes it so interesting?
Byron: Initially I wanted to know about the culture. Then I realized I’ve been around other races my whole life, but I wasn’t aware of them.
SO: Do you believe racism is still alive and well? In your experience, do you see it leaving anytime soon and if so, where would the elimination of it start?
Byron: Racism…Oh hell yeah, it will survive us all. When the world ends, all that’s going to be left is roaches and racism. Racism is everywhere….being a black man from the south, you think you are at the bottom then you travel and it hits you…Damn, this group of people has it worse and for a far longer period of time. To eliminate racism, we would need a common threat such as an alien or zombie attack. Then mankind will come together to eliminate the threat. BUT once that threat has been eliminated, we become n#ggas again. LOL.
Byron Bowers “Black Magic” at The Laugh Factory
SO: The circle of life: racism, roaches, zombies and racism. What is your ultimate goal with comedy? Do you want to be a movie or TV star, talk show host, or a famous comedian?
Byron: Why not try all of them and see what sticks. I’ve pretty much done all of these already….depending on when this interview comes out.
SO: Let’s be random for a sec, what is your perfect meal?
Byron: Cheeseburger, soggy fries and fresh lemonade! This beats steak and quinoa any day!
SO: This is the last one Byron! Is there a subject that is taboo to talk about for you? If yes, please explain. If no, why do you think people see things as forbidden?
Byron: There is no subject that is sacred, but certain things matter: style [and] delivery. Looks play a major role also. I can’t do a rape joke and look like a rapist. The audience will take it way too seriously, but a little person can get away with it.
SO: Thanks Byron! Your delivery was great!