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Mark Nelson: Offending The Senses

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Corry Shaw

Mark Nelson may not be the youngest Scottish comic on the Fringe, and he may not have the most buzz about him, but he has certainly come with the intention of rivalling Sloss and Bridge as the next big thing from north of the border.

A low-key, laid back Dumfies delivery matched with some insightful and oftentimes dark material is tempered by a certain lighthearted playfulness. This is a stand-up show with no bells or whistles, no theme, no moral or clever twist to the tale. Just unadulterated jokes told by a comic bristling with confidence of a professional who is as comfortable offering up a sick line about Jordan's disabled child Harvey as he is delivering a predictable and groan-worthy pun.

Nelson has the air of an act in complete control of his domain but with no smugness or arrogance, and even when hit with a few random heckles from the crowd he takes it in stride, deals with the interruption and smoothly moves back on with the business of telling jokes.

All manner of subjects attract his keen observational eye, from the Scottish weather to anal sex. There is no groundbreaking satire or challenging viewpoints but there is an honesty and grit to the material. There is maybe just one too many obvious lines and a few times the audience are ahead of him, laughing before the punchline is delivered, or occasionally even completing it for him.

Nelson is not afraid of creating a stir or pushing the boundaries of taste, and although some of the edgier material is dated – with Stephen Gatley's death making an appearance – he can also handle slightly more topical subjects. His take on the Raoul Moat story unfortunately getsmore of a groan than a laugh, but is cleverly crafted nonetheless.

His stoic delivery is usually effective, but during the sections which have a slightly slower build-up or less compelling material, it is easy to drift off. With a touch more movement and feeling even these slower routines would hold the attention.

Nelson is an exceptionally promising talent who is well known on the Scottish circuit. It can only be a matter of time before his dark observations are presented on a much bigger stage.

Review date: 9 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Corry Shaw

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