Will Mars: Candid Café (3 stars)

Will Mars: Candid Café

Self-loathing, heartbreak and frequent punchlines

Will Mars has had a terrible year and it shows. He ambles on stage, glares at the room with his sad eyes and asks us not to clap. He's not earned any applause yet. This isn't a gimmick: if Candid Café is anything, it's soaked in self-loathing. Fortunately, it just happens to also be a tightly-focused hour of comedy. The heartbreak and redemption narrative will win Mars no points for originality, but this is a show he can be pleased with.

Candid Café's arc is thus: Mars fell in love last year in Edinburgh, but was dumped in a quite brutal manner. Losing 'the one' has forced him to look in the mirror, considering how his life has panned out. He tells his story with an earnest desperation and, while we obviously only get one side of the story, it's savage nonetheless. 'You're a loser,' he says of himself, 'and you're 38.' He reminisces about his twenties, a time spent working (and womanising) at 18-30 holidays and says he was a 'nasty young guy'.

On paper it sounds miserable, but Mars crams a lot of smart gags into his hour. I'm not on board with all of it (sarcastically bemoaning his straightness as the reason for his not hitting the big time jars with the reflective tone) but it's an enjoyably cathartic performance nonetheless.

Laughing Horse @ Bar 50, until 26 Aug, 3.30pm, donations at the venue.

Will Mars: Candid Cafe

  • 3 stars

Free Festival Star of FOX’s Showtime at the Apollo, finalist on season eight of NBC Comcast’s knockout television show, Trial By Laughter and runner-up for the woman he loves. ‘He had been making his mark on the New York scene only to come back for love and be dumped soon after the plane hit the runway…

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