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REVIEW: ‘He must have known he was on safe ground when he said if there were any Tories in, they could just F off – F right off’

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This is Mark Thomas deliberately being a bit of rough, writes ANGELA SINGER.

Reflecting the atmosphere of the times – whereas he says, we have had three prime ministers in eight weeks – this show is not a masterpiece of research and a bit let us try it and see.

Unlike his masterpiece of 2019, Check Up about exactly how successive governments have literally decimated the health service (since one in 10 nursing posts is vacant) the show is not full of incontrovertible statistics and interviews with abashed politicians.

It is not a triumph of balance and personal experience as was his 2011 blaster, Extreme Rambling – Walking the Wall where he had walked the wall between Israel and Palestine and managed to achieve a perfect balance between the Palestinian and Israeli viewpoints – and nail the Israeli accent, which is a tough call.

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No, this current show, Black and White (Cambridge Junction) – which is about halfway through a 50-date, four-month tour – is visceral. It is Mark Thomas in the raw – and mostly the roar. He is very angry.

He is angry enough for the whole nation. At times he seems apoplectic. You worry he is going to burst.

At Cambridge Junction on a Monday night, he must have known he was on safe ground when he said if there were any Tories in, they could just F off – F right off. Course there were not.

Why would Conservative voters (if there are still any out and proud in Cambridgeshire) see the blazing revolutionary Mark Thomas?

He is not in love with Labour either. No time for Kier Starmer – too meek for him. Starmer should be on picket lines – and if any trades unionists are about to start a strike, Mark Thomas will be there, comrades. Just let him know.

Mark wants every Tory candidate at the next election to lose their deposit. Then he asks about Cambridge’s lampposts. Are they strong enough to string the beggars up – Mussolini style. He is in favour of that.

And there you have it. This is Mark’s retro show. It is funny. It has his audience shrieking with laughter, but it is a touch of nostalgia. Perhaps all his shows are. We can be better than this – we WERE better than this.

Why would Conservative voters (if there are still any out and proud in Cambridgeshire) see the blazing revolutionary Mark Thomas?

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There is homage to comedians as far back as Max Miller who died in 1963. He tells the joke that got Miller banned from the BBC.

He has a lovely sketch with the late Les Dawson (who died in 1993) doing Liz Truss. There is going to be civil unrest in the next two years he says. “People will go out and get tasered to take the chill off.” They will burn their furniture. “You’ll know you’re posh if you still have a fence come February.”

The second half of the show sags at the beginning. On this tour – which started in Bury St Edmunds in September and ends in Plymouth and Great Torrington in December – having taken in Oxford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol, York, Blackburn, Newcastle, Edinburgh and 38 other places – he invites the audience to compose a song about their town or city.

It feels a bit dumbing down for this highly political comedian – community singing. He has the Cambridge audience tunefully singing all the words to Beside the Seaside – which the Brighton audience came up with.

As inspiration for our song, he beguiles us with inspired chants from his local football team AFC Wimbledon.

But all we can come up with is bicycles – which he dismisses, the university, which he waves away – even though he is told we have two. He is puzzled when someone shouts out that the rules of football were formed on Parker’s Piece (he does not know that this is a field – maybe he thinks it is something rude).

The project is abandoned after a feeble attempt at singing “We don’t want no education” after someone calls out that Pink Floyd lived in Cambridge.

After that dip, the show gains real momentum when he reverts to traditional stand-up – telling good stories. “I’m going to talk about royalty,” he says. “Barry Cryer”. He describes going with fellow comedian Arthur Smith to the funeral of the funniest man on the planet who died in January.

The tale is eloquently delivered and has the audience holding its breath – and it is memorably funny. That is Mark Thomas for you. He comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb. He is blood red in tooth and claw.

This is his look back in anger.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Angela Singer is our reviewer for CambsNews

 

 

 

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