Monday, October 24, 2005

You know that unbelievably knowledgeable, sharp-minded and funny comedian? That's you that is. 

A splendid evening out on Sunday night seeing Mr Robert Newman and Mr Mark Thomas performing their respective brands of political comedy. I'd seen Mr Newman's From Caliban to Taliban set back in 2003 and been absolutely floored by it. As comedy goes it was incredibly deeply-researched, educational and politically questioning of many of the mainstream media's accepted takes on how things are. Oh, and it was really, really funny.

Last night's set was about half of his more recent Apocalypso Now set, which apparently went down a storm in Edinburgh in the summer, and was more of the same sort of thought-provoking and brilliant material taking on such matters as Iraq, the unquestioning nature of the mass media, macroeconomics and Gaylord tennis. And it was really really, funny. And it had ukuleles in it too. The only thing that made it slightly less enjoyable as a piece of entertainment was the almost inevitable conclusion one reached that, in essence, from an environmental point of view, we're all fucked. Oh well. Enjoy the blossomest blossoms while you can.

After a brief interval, during which I managed to speak perhaps as many as three words to Mr Newman himself who was loitering in the foyer, it seemed inevitable that Mark Thomas would be something of a comedown. I've enjoyed some of his TV work in the past but often found the comedy to be in somewhat short supply in his Comedy Product shows. I always admired his anti-establishment, anti-corporate, anti-auntie (okay, maybe not) stance but it seemed to me that, for instance, the best way to protest about MacDonalds is not to make life even harder for the poor spotty oik with three stars on his badge (if memory serves, Thomas's wheeze was to turn up at a drive through branch in a tank). Anyway, happily, his stand up turns out to be another matter entirely: less ambitious and more straightforward than Newman's act but probably, if anything, more laugh out loud funny. Thomas is writing a book on the arms trade at the moment and much of his current set is about his research in this field. While, obviously, political in essence, his comedy is actually very much about the personalities of those around him: his friends, colleagues, the MOD chaperone assigned to him at the arms fair, his recently ordained sister. So it's political and impassioned but it's human and personal too. And, lest we forget, really, really funny.

Tip top all round and highly recommended (they're touring till about mid-December I think).

Shameless plug follows

You can catch them at Norwich Playhouse on Tue 22 & Wed 23 November at 8.30pm. Call the Box Office on 01603 598598 for tickets.

I'll be there.

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