Mark Nelson: Brexit Wounds | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Mark Nelson: Brexit Wounds

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Outside of the hectic daily news cycle, can anything new be said about Brexit? 

Mark Nelson doesn’t add much to the picture, although his dry, wry show is a decent summing-up of the impossible situation we’re in, while also encompassing less political material as a newly middle-aged and newly middle-class comedian.

It’s a mixture of proper jokes and relatable observations, consistently amusing but – just like the Brexit negotiations – never quite breaking through to the next level.

He retreads the recent history that got us into that quagmire, with slightly dog-eared quips about David Cameron – remember him? – leaving his daughter in the pub, or putting his penis in a hog’s head. But that reference is positively oven-fresh compared to an old pub gag on sectarianism he dusts down and presents as new.

A moderate Remainer, Nelson uses his position to engage in some good-natured badinage with the two Leave voters in the room, while recruiting the German and the Italian punters to help make his case for sticking together. Like his prepared material, the exchanges are pleasingly amusing, rather than rip-roaring.

Yet some of the savvy political lines strike a chord. His likening of the Tories ignoring the issue of the Irish border to him ignoring a mystery dashboard warning in his car certainly hit home. And he demonstrates funny facial physicality when impersonating Theresa May trying to execute her ‘smile’ programming, with gruesome results. 

Maybe we should mock political leaders for what they believe rather than what they look like, but elsewhere Nelson sails a lot closer to the wind than that, eliciting pantomime ‘oohs’ for some of the bad-taste material, including a Parkinson’s disease joke.

Away from Westminster, the comedian serves up domestic stories such as trying to negotiate his way around the recycling, that anyone can identify with. And on green issues, that underplayed talent for the act-out again comes to the fore when he demonstrates how un-macho it looks to drink with a straw. It’s another memorable image that should put any bloke with any dignity from asking for one. Harnessing toxic masculinity to improve the planet!

More club-friendly comedy comes with routines about vibrators and reusing condoms, again for environmental reasons, all delivered in measured, quietly confident tones.

That delivery reflects the tone of the show. It’s low-key and solid, rather than showy and blow-your-mind hilarious – so even though some routines are strong, the whole feels underpowered against some of the competition at the Fringe.

Review date: 18 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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