Announcing the death of much-loved musical innovator David Bowie in the middle of a comedy show could have been a downer.

But two guests at Jimmy Carr's Auckland stand-up show last night say the UK TV presenter and comedian handled the situation "smoothly".

Guy Heveldt, a sports reporter for NZME, says Carr announced the news of Bowie's death from cancer at the age of 69 just after the interval of his show at ASB Theatre.

Carr thought many in the crowd had already discovered the news after checking their phones during the show's break, but judging from gasps they hadn't.


Rock's rebel rebel: David Bowie dies from cancer
Grief of man who gave Bowie his alien eye
Ex-wife on Big Brother when news broke

"Everyone was quite shocked," Heveldt said. "There were audible gasps."

Carr only made one joke about it, saying something along the lines of: "Looking on the plus side we're all a little cooler now as the coolest man on Earth just died."

Heveldt says the crowd shared a round of applause for Bowie, and the show continued on.

Another gig-goer in the crowd, Chris Philpott, also said Carr handled the news admirably.

"It was a nice touch at the end of the show, and, honestly, given how quickly news like this travels, and how all of us were on our phones at intermission, it would've been weird for him not to say something."

Philpott said Bowie's song Heroes was played as they left the auditorium.

Fans commented about the show on Twitter.

Bowie died after an 18-month secret battle with cancer yesterday, the same week that his new album Blackstar was released.

Carr's jokes have landed him in hot water in the past, including one made about dwarves late last year.