Mark Thomas

Posted in Gig Reviews on November, 20 2004 12:07 PM

Mark ThomasI was trying to remember when I last saw Mark Thomas live and I reckon it must have been well over five years ago. Considering I rate him as my favourite UK comedian I think that’s a pretty poor show on my part. However, in my defence, the man is incredibly popular as denoted by all the ‘sold out’ stamps I have come across when trying to get tickets.


The last time I saw him was in a large theatre up in Birmingham (which felt strange as previously it had always been ‘intimate’ pub and club gigs) and I’ve always liked him because he’s a motivated, passionate and intelligent ‘political’ comedian but also mixed in a fair chunk of standard observational stuff.


I suppose it was mainly the TV series that launched him into more widespread popularity and he built himself the reputation for being an antiestablishment, anarchic comedy activist – a modern day Robin Hood with a production budget – and that is now where the focus of his stand-up show resides.


Physically I don’t think he’s changed at all in the last 10+ years (is he looking good for a 40 year old or did he look bad for a 30 year old?) and he certainly hasn’t compromised his material or delivery.


In this tour he has split his set into halves; the first regales in the incidents that led up to, and enveloped, his latest appearance in court. It’s a sequence of his trademarked bizarre run-ins with politicians, the law and the American Embassy. Although hilariously subversive (his juvenile-type nonconformity is something most people would love to do) it was relatively ‘meat’ free. It was revelling in the idiosyncrasies of his cohorts, fans and targets than trying to pitch a social dialectic.


The second half was where the punch was; the path of his anti-authoritarian rebellion taken to the next logical step and an investigation of the insidious entity known as ‘the corporation’; specifically the global monster that is Coca-Cola.


Thomas bangs out the statistics and facts of Coke’s history, science and politics, and their ecological, economical and international effects. He is a cross between Michael Moore and Bill Hicks; it’s a stand-up exposé mixing laugh-out-loud gags with jaw dropping revelations, eye-widening horrors and genuine poignancy. This is comedy on a quest; not just asking for a donation or signature but hoping you might re-evaluate Coke’s position in society and, specifically, in your life.


Mark Thomas is a truly great comedian having evolved his 19 year career to this point when people who listen might actually act upon his words rather than just comment on how clever and dangerous he is. It would be a slight advantage to have a basic knowledge of some of his prey and, for Heaven’s sake, if you’re going to heckle have something substantial to say. I cannot recommend Thomas highly enough; it is so refreshing to listen to a comedian with something to say. I will suggest you grab tickets to catch this Tour quickly, just in case the Americans or Columbians get hold of him.


The Hawth, Crawley


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