John Dowie (humourist)

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John Dowie (born 1950 in Birmingham) is a British comedian, musician and writer. He began performing stand-up comedy in 1969.


Dowie was among the inaugural acts on Tony Wilson's Factory Records label. In 1978 he contributed three comedic songs to the first Factory music release, A Factory Sample, along with Joy Division, The Durutti Column, and Cabaret Voltaire. However his best remembered song remains the satirical "British Tourist (I Hate the Dutch)" from his debut EP Another Close Shave, issued by Virgin in 1977.

In 1981 a seven-inch single followed on Factory Records, the Martin Hannett-produced It's Hard to be an Egg,[1] which Dowie described as a flop. "It's Hard to be an Egg" was also featured in episode 1 of the Wood and Walters show. It is noteworthy as having unusual packaging even by Factory standards: the disc is white vinyl with a "yolk" printed on the label, and is housed in a clear plastic sleeve with a real white feather. Dowie's final Factory contribution was a VHS video entitled simply Dowie, a recording of a live performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Ralph Steadman cover art.

In 1987 Dowie issued a live album, Good Grief, recorded at the Zap Club in Brighton, but by 1991 had all but retired from stand-up comedy, celebrating his decision with an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, Why I Stopped Being a Stand-Up Comedian.

As a director, he worked on Heathcote WilliamsWhale Nation and Falling for a Dolphin, as well as directing shows by, among others, Neil Innes, Arthur Smith, Barry Cryer and Ronnie Golden, Simon Munnery and the late Pete McCarthy in The Hangover Show. His children’s show Dogman, directed by Victor Spinetti, was described by the Daily Mail’s Jack Tinker as the best show he had seen in Edinburgh that year. Dowie went on to write and perform Jesus – My Boy which was performed in London’s West End by Tom Conti, in Tel Aviv by noted Israeli comedian Gil Kopatz, and in various productions/translations in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands.

In 2005 Dowie collaborated with Phill Jupitus and Neil Innes on a musical comedy CD for children, and in 2006 recorded a remake of "British Tourist" with the Dutch computer music group the POW Ensemble, for X-OR Records. An archive CD titled An Arc of Hives was issued by LTM Recordings in 2012, with sleevenotes by Stewart Lee and Dave Cohen.


  • Sit-Down Comedy (contributor to anthology, ed Malcolm Hardee & John Fleming) Ebury Press/Random House, 2003. ISBN 0-09-188924-3; ISBN 978-0-09-188924-1
  • Hard To Swallow (with Hunt Emerson) Knockabout, 1988. ISBN 978-0-86166-060-5
  • Dogman (with Delphine Thomas) BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2003. ISBN 0-563-47697-4
  • The Freewheeling John Dowie Unbound, 2017


  1. ^ Harris, Craig. "John Dowie: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-01-08.

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