Mark Silcox

Mark Silcox

A middle-aged comic with a deadpan style, Mark Silcox originally started comedy in 2009, but after after 60 gigs went to Germany to work. He started gigging again in September 2012 with a new set, which gained him the runners-up place in the Squawker new act competition at the 2013 Brighton Comedy Festival
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Mark Silcox: I Can Cure... [Perfect and Arena-Ready Show]

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

By my count, this will be the fourth time Chortle has reviewed Mark Silcox’s I Can Cure, and it’s my third time seeing one of its iterations – although how iterative this process actually is remains in doubt.

According to most external measures it seems to be the same show every time, in which a robotic voice promises Silcox will explain a) the types of coughs and b) the origin of homosexuality. The first part is touched upon briefly – I’m not sure he ever gets around to b).

What actually follows is a soporific lecture by a professorial older gentleman, touching on Buddhism, nutrition, and the benefits of exercise. During a long section in the middle, he steams some fresh chickpeas, boils eggs for anyone who wants one, and makes cups of tea. It ends with an explosion, and Dr Silcox wandering off behind a curtain. Why is it the same show every year? Presumably because it’s already perfect.

Actually, aficionados might notice a couple of changes. He’s now dressed for showbiz in a purple sequinned jacket and very nice peach-coloured shoes, and he’s dropped a bit about China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims. Silcox has sold out and gone commercial!

Things have been trending that way for a while. People who saw earlier versions of the show – whether they enjoyed it or not – will probably have been surprised that he’s now almost ubiquitous as a major supporting star in a number of sitcoms and comedy shows. They say he’s leading a triple life as a TV star, Britain’s most avant-garde comedian, and a mild-mannered maths teacher in North London. It’s been rumoured that his wife and family don’t know where he goes at night, and that he’s the favourite comedian of the five funniest people in the world.

In any case, his audience seems to be growing, and he gets some huge laughs from about three-quarters of the crowd when he does something funny – like turn on the air conditioning. A very shy person sitting next to me whispers that she loves him so much; others look sad and bewildered that they’ve ended up spending a precious fringe slot listening to this man drone about Buddha while refusing to give them a decent view of his laminated visual aids.

No one attempts to leave, though, possibly because his show is restful even if you don’t find it funny, and comedy is almost never restful. And it would seem rude to snub his hospitality once he’s handed out the chickpeas, served with lots of salt, ‘limes’ (a lemon) and coriander, placed on the side since one audience member is allergic to the herb.

Stand-up as a medium can do almost anything, but comedians as a rule are relentless over-examiners and over-explainers. Ambiguity is under-explored; mystery is left on the table.

Silcox is the exception to that rule. When he corpses unexpectedly in the middle of a monotone description of his badminton club’s administrative structure, we catch a glimpse of the infinite nature of comedy. Weirdly I think it’s roughly the same part where he cracked up in 2019, which goes to show that some jokes never get old.

Mark Silcox: I Can Cure... [Perfect and Arena-Ready Show] is on at Monkey Barrel Comedy Niddry Street at 5.45pm

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Published: 15 Aug 2022



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