“Witty, energetic and incorrigible”
Although used to seeing Mark Smith backgrounded by a wall covered in his own name, he loses none of his charm when foregrounding walls are covered in the shattered dreams of interior designers. It’s hard to make a venue like his seem welcoming, especially in amongst all the cracked paint, but somehow Smith makes it a job that seems doable.
Ranging on subjects from bowling to duck penises, Smith’s methods are comfortably (depending on your disposition) familiar: witty, everyday observational humour with a wicked sting in the tail. The moment that Smith takes a pause after an apparent punchline is like watching a boxer wind up for a knock-out left hook: there were times when I was blown away by the sheer unexpectedness of his thinking, to wonderful effect.
And there’s no denying Smith is a charming man. You could see yourself going out for a pint with him, and when flashes of genuineness peek through the bravado, his inventively crude observations take on an almost sweet tone. Almost.
However, this was not a performance without its pitfalls. Smith sometimes spends far too long waiting on an audience which, in my case, was admittedly rather shy. At best it feels like stalling, and at worst it turns excellent pieces in jarring exercises in long pauses. His material works best when Smith is forging boldly ahead with his obviously prodigious skill, rather than symbolically asking the audience for permission to start the engines.
If you’ve a free afternoon, Mark Smith is an excellent way to banish the increasingly grey summer heat. Witty, energetic and incorrigible, it’s clear to see why Smith has graced many a television screen to great effect.
Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 12 Aug)
Visit the Other archive.