mark thomas live in london! 04 june - 16 june

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Joined: 11 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:04 pm    Post subject: mark thomas live in london! 04 june - 16 june Reply with quote

wicked news, i've been trying to catch mark thomas for ages but usually find out after the event, but not this time Smile


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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This comedian's serious
13 June 2007

IMAGINE you're standing alone on a stage in front of a packed theatre with not one prop, no film clips, no autocue, nothing. And you have to keep the baying crowd entertained for TWO HOURS. Most of us would run away crying, but not Mark Thomas, in fact he revels in it, writes Margaret Davis. His latest tour, currently at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, is essentially him telling stories about his latest political campaigns. But let's be clear here, Thomas is not just Jackanory fodder, he is a force to be reckoned with. The comedian has won multiple awards for fighting to protect human rights.

The performance begins with an hour-long show called 'My Life in Serious Organised Crime.' Thomas has been, as he calls it, 'playing' with the law that bans unauthorised protests in a large area around the Houses of Parliament. If you want to demonstrate you need to apply for permission six days in advance, and then on the day the cops can still turn you away if they don't like the look of you. Thomas and his fellow campaigners have bombarded the police with thousands of individual requests to protest on anything they like - 'stop putting bits in cheese', 'smash surrealism', 'free condoms for gay pensioners' to name but a few.

While half of me baulked at the money this wasted, it does highlight the nonsensical bureaucracy generated by denying us a democratic right. Why is it okay to ban us from lobbying Parliament (or demonstrating in numerous other locations around Westminster, Whitehall and Millbank) because of the catch-all 'terror threat'?

This first half of the show was charming, funny and really revealed how much Thomas likes people, no matter what they believe. Even the police he dealt with came across pretty well. He also has an entirely valid point, we need to wake up to the erosion of our civil liberties and the rising tide of fear of a faceless 'terror threat'. And he makes that point in a really accessible, witty way - something I feel has always been one of Thomas' great strengths.

But the second half of the show, 'As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela', is much heavier and much more skewed by Thomas' beliefs. It covers the arms trade, how much of our tax money is used to subsidise the industry and how ineffective the laws against torture weapons have proved to be. The title refers to an advert for leg irons, 'as used on the famous Nelson Mandela.' And to be fair, Thomas has been brave in arranging undercover stings and tackling arms dealers face to face.

But, if I had been fresh out of university I would have swallowed every word he said as fact, when actually there are gaping holes in some of his arguments. I don't understand how he can be against the entire arms trade, but then defend the actions of a British soldier. I also felt he was overly critical of the decision by Newsnight and the New Statesman not to publish material from an undercover sting he had arranged. They faced threats of legal action from an extremely rich family who had not technically broken the law, what could they do? Get their publication or programme sued and shut down because Sudan was involved? According to Thomas, yes.

Despite these niggles, the show as a whole is worth watching, especially for those wanting to see something that provokes genuine debate.

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