review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Mark Smith: The Most Astonishing Name in Comedy

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Nione Meakin

Poor old Mark Smith. Apart from having a name so ordinary he once changed it to Winston in a bid to stand out, in his hoodie and jeans he also looks unfortunately like so many other white, 20-something male comics, and initially appears to be touting a familiar brand of lightweight man-child observations.

But we all know appearances can be deceptive and from these unpromising beginnings comes a slyly enjoyable hour peppered with gleeful wordplay and imaginative anecdotes. This is Smith's first solo show (he also appears as part of double act Dregs) and at first his understated delivery comes across as hesitance. But he relaxes as he gets into his stride and proves adept at getting the audience on side with a self-effacing assessment of his own body and a game in which we are invited to choose a new nickname for him.

His material is nothing startling – he's far from the only comic to fret over an apparent inability to grow-up – but he's thoughtful in the way he describes these inconsequential musings and elicits laughs through his turn of phrase and timing.

An otherwise unremarkable story about being unable to locate the gas meter in his house is turned into a veritable melodrama that makes the crashing anticlimax all the better, the absurdity of a conversation about the film Speed is highlighted through being taken to and beyond its logical conclusion and then there are his throwaway descriptions. The imagined musical genres of 'slut-rock, bilbo-house and chum-step' continued to make me smile after I'd left the venue.

Although he loses momentum with his finishing set piece, which relies too heavily on the shaky odds of audience interaction, this is a competent debut on which Smith should build.

Review date: 13 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.