Mark Forward Wins All the Awards (4 stars)

Mark Forward Wins All the Awards

credit: Scott McLean

Room-dividing excellence with more than a dash of absurdity

Like fellow Canadian Tony Law, Mark Forward is a surrealist comedian who constructs bizarre narratives in service of precisely engineered laughs. Even the most seemingly throwaway gag is later revealed to be part of a greater whole, so a sketch about buttering bread segues into a ridiculous radio commercial before ending up as an elaborate musical number.

Forward (seen recently in the third series of Fargo) is evidently well aware of how absurd he's being, often unable to keep a straight face and frequently breaking off to mockingly reprimand members of the crowd for not fully indulging him (tonight's audience is very clearly delineated between those who are onboard and those who are not). Constantly prowling around the audience, there's a tangible sense of anticipation about how far he might go for a laugh.

Some of his strongest material calls to mind the early work of Rhod Gilbert, particularly his intricate conjecture on what would happen if a bear went to heaven. A fantastic reinterpretation of a classic children's rhyme serves as the perfect way to conclude this glorious hour, before Forward outdoes himself by throwing his all into a barnstorming ending that finally unites the whole room.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 27 Aug (not 14), 8.15pm, £10.50–£11.50 (£9.50–£10.50).

Mark Forward Wins All the Awards

  • 4 stars

Gag Reflex in association with TGA Mark returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a new show filled with everything that will help him win all the awards. Death, bees, death, puppets, death, and cows in heaven (who are dead). The show is odd and fun, but also has those serious moments that are only in the show to…

Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh

Sat 19 Aug

Dining Room

£11.50 (£10.50) / 0131 622 6552

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Sun 20 Aug

Dining Room

£11.50 (£10.50) / 0131 622 6552

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Mon 21 Aug

Dining Room

£10.50 (£9.50) / 0131 622 6552

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

…and 6 more dates until 27 Aug

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