A spontaneous manifesto crafted with perfection
This article is from 2009.
If there is a serious side to comedy, then Mark Thomas is standing at its edge. Over the years, he has used his persona of cheeky scamp to write, rally and demonstrate against global injustices, balancing the sincere imperatives with the bonhomie of his live performances. This year’s show is radical, but not because of Thomas’ well-developed sense of indignation; this time it’s the audience’s chance to get political. In the large queue outside the venue, notes are being furiously scribbled on new policies for a better Britain. Which one of these scraps of half-baked ideas, witty one-liners and pearls of wisdom will be added to the Thomas ‘manifesto’ is up for debate (using a democratic voting system of cheering). A tattered ‘polling station’ sign is suspended above the stage and a fissure of excitement hangs in the air; this is a fresh and spontaneous show, created by the beliefs of the audience. If only Question Time was this electrifying.
As a performer, Thomas is the undeniable leader of this lunatics’ asylum. Here is a slick and suited man, with a PowerPoint presentation and a mic head-set strapped to the jaw, allowing for more dramatic hand gestures. It’s a bit of a showbiz touch, but has the positive effect of softening the ‘angry man shouts into microphone’ aesthetic. Thomas retains his schoolboy mischievousness, revelling in his latest pranks at the expense of the rich and infamous. But the ingenuity of others is centrefold here, which is why Thomas will present the Edinburgh manifesto publicly to MSPs at the end of the run. Thomas’ comedy often has a cause. This time it’s democracy.
The Stand III & IV, 558 7272, until 18 Aug, 6.15pm, £12.