Mark Forward presents Mark Forward
Sharp, occasionally surreal stuff from Canadian stand-up star
This article is from 2015.
Mark Forward knows that everyone has a trigger and he wants to pull yours. Not that this hour is a barrage of obscenities or shock tactics, his show is far subtler and cleverer than that. Occasionally he approaches the edge and peers over into the darkness below but Forward is more interested in the idea of taste, constantly reminding us they're just words and it's all make-believe.
While he might start a joke with Germanwings Flight 9525, it ends with raisins (he skirts the realm of surrealism but there's a weird internal logic at play). Much like Stewart Lee, Forward expects his audience to do some work. You need to let go and roll with his manic material, finding yourself deeply entrenched in tales of chipmunk spousal abuse and fancy hats on sale at a terrible convenience store.
The real joy is how fully-realised the characters that inhabit his rambling stories are, with the comic taking us deep into their lives and idiosyncrasies. Forward has an infectious dynamic energy, like a frantic Zach Galifianakis, and it should come as no surprise that he's won a clutch of awards in his native Canada. This is sharp and beautifully composed madness.
Gilded Balloon, 622 6552, until 31 Aug (not 27), 9.30pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10).