Mark Silcox: No Women Plenty Of Cry | Review by Steve Bennett
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Mark Silcox: No Women Plenty Of Cry

Review by Steve Bennett

Mark Silcox is certainly redefining comedy.

Not in his show does it mean ‘professional entertainment intended to make an audience laugh’.

There’s very little in his extreme anti-comedy to suggest he’s seeking laughs at all, as he shuffles on, in zipped-up anorak and starts reading in heavy monotone some long, digressive ‘poems’ about doing a map-reading test to get a minicab licence, or about a badminton partner – which somehow morphs into a far-too detailed lecture on the science and engineering of electrochemiluminescence.

There is, of course, something amusing about how wilfully unfunny he’s being. It’s in the same ballpark as Andy Kaufman reading the entire Great Gatsby to his audience, straight.

Yet – as I wrote in another review this week – such things make great anecdotes but terrible, terrible gigs. In the room, you get a laugh at how stubbornly obtuse he’s being.. then realise there’s another 57 minutes of this to go. Though,to be fair, he does give his audience a tea break; when he stops the show cold, puts the kettle on and brews up.

Understandably, he lost half his 16 punters before the halfway point, but on his terms that’s still a success. He says he’s played most shows this Fringe to just his technician. Yet he believes he’s a winner, because he’s staying true to his principles of not conforming.

‘I’m a free person,’ he says, because he doesn’t need to make money from this (achieved!) as he’s a smart guy with modest outgoing who’s had well-paid jobs before. Though he doesn’t seem to play well with colleagues, which he sort of alludes to – but nothing is ever clear with him. He’s isolated from the world, but stoic, convinced that he’s got what he wants.

Silcox, a former BBC New Comedy Award finalist, made the Chortle headlines earlier this year when he said he was going to ban women from his Fringe run since they had called him so much pain. This has been abandoned, possibly because of anti-discrimination legislation, and the entire subject is mentioned only briefly, just to say it had been dropped.

The flyer, which he hands out during the show and insists we all read, explains something of his stance, perhaps more than his actual show does: ‘A comedy character not only breaks the fourth wall but imposes condition [sic] on audiences to feel some sense of control in his life’ it says. If Silcox is a character (it’s not his real name) he seems very devoted to it.

Is he a dadaist genius or just a strange man with issues? The jury’s still out. And while I’m not sure I’d want to sit through No Women: Plenty Of Cry again, in retrospect I’m warming, slightly, to the tedium he put us through. Weird, huh?

Review date: 12 Aug 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Just the Tonic at The Mash House

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