Mark Forward Wins All the Awards

Single father Mark Forward has decided the time has come for him to be appreciated as a comedian. The surest way to guarantee success is to win a comedy award. And the surest way to win a comedy award? Introduce some seriousness.

A magnificently ridiculous show

Like so many comics before him, the Canadian has recognised that death and molestation are the only topics worthy of consideration for an award winner. Given that he wasn’t abused as a child, and with the likelihood of it happening in adulthood remote (as he says himself, considering his age and physical wellbeing, “Who would even want to?!”), the decision is made for him. With tongue very much in cheek, he goes for death.

Going by first few minutes of the gig you could be forgiven for thinking that this is going to be some self-conscious “meta” take on the idea of the comedy award industry but nothing could be further from the truth. The death “theme” rears its head intermittently throughout, with interludes of faux-poignant non-sequiturs delivered by a seated Forward, but the main thrust of his standup is its wholeheartedly and unashamedly commitment to silliness.

There’s not much more to it than a grown man doing daft things in front of some strangers, trying to make everyone (himself included) laugh. He veers from topic to topic, from sandwiches to Trump to nursery rhymes and back to sandwiches again. The result is a bewildering hour, one best enjoyed if you can rediscover your childlike sense of joy in the ridiculous. Or, as Forward puts it, “come over to the dark side.”

If his intention is to win all the awards, it’s hard to see where Forward could make any changes in the hopes of appealing to a wider audience. For example, I could take or leave his bit involving the bee in the room, but it was my companion’s favourite section by far. Forward’s comedy is very much divide and conquer in that sense – if you don’t like this bit there’ll be one wildly different along in a minute. And if you don’t like that then how about the full five minutes and fifty seconds of a Bonnie Tyler song?

You’ll rarely see someone work as hard onstage as Forward does, from buttering bread to crude attempts at puppetry. I lost count of how many laps he did around the room but the result was effective. So much of his shtick is dependent on winning over the audience one by one – dividing them in the first place is a lot easier when they can’t be sure where he’ll appear from next.

At the pace he keeps up it’s inevitable that it will all come crashing down at some point and, without ruining the ending, it so gloriously does. This bizarre virtuoso even denies the audience the collective round of applause at the conclusion, fitting for such a magnificently ridiculous show.

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The Blurb

Mark returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a new show filled with everything that will help him win all the awards. Death, bees, death, puppets, death, and cows in heaven (who are dead). The show is odd and fun, but also has those serious moments that are only in the show to help a performer win all the awards. You wouldn't want to miss it. 'Forward has an infectious dynamic energy' **** (List). 'Stand-up of this quality ought to be a hot ticket' ( **** (Scotsman).