Mark Forward Wins All the Awards
- Murray Robertson
- 11 August 2017
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).