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Mark Nelson: Guilty Pleasures

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julian Hall

Describing the White Belly venue as somewhere that Hitler would have come to die, Scottish, Glasgow-dwelling, comedian Mark Nelson gets off to a quick start with some great introductory material including his enjoyment of the high moral ground from which he looks over rioting Londoners. And why not?

It's not long before Nelson, who originally hails from Dumfries, is turning the joke back on Glasgow, after which he goes rural and has some fun with his homeland in respect of its size and alleged sexual habits.

Some of themes will sound familiar, themes that also include shopping at Aldi and the opinions of Page 3 girls on current affairs, but they feel solid in Nelson's hands as he can, more often than not, squeeze that bit of extra mileage out of them. His shopping trip, for example, is given added colour by the case of a woman banned from Tesco for wearing her pajamas. Her loss is comedy's gain.

In Nelson's own losses and gains column, he has to set against his broadly high laugh count a number of missed opportunities and dead ends.

First off, while he dismissed the idea of themes or narrative arcs, he introduces a titular routine but doesn't, for me, clearly nail what a guilty pleasure is. He's also dismissive of religion and while he has a good take on Scientology, since he’s a politics graduate and clearly savvy, I would have thought he could make more of this area.

Ultimately, this perhaps comes down to a matter of choice and he does go further on sectarianism, though his rape analogy might be considered too far, if structurally clever.

Other areas that are skipped over include his relationship with computer games. If so, such a routine observation on Grand Theft Auto feels like being robbed of more insight.

Despite the various question marks, there should be no doubt that the 30-year-old is destined for wider exposure, and maybe a move out of venues that resemble suicide spots for dictators, and into those where dictators held rallies.

Review date: 22 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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