Mark Nelson - Guilty Pleasure

The first thing one notices about the White Belly is the air, which because of the damp in the disused bank tastes like the inside of a papier-mache aircraft hangar. Mark Nelson describes the space as his ‘comedy bunker’, and claims that when asked if he wanted a room for the festival, he replied ‘Have you got one that looks like Hitler would’ve killed himself in it?’ Without raked seats it’s hard to tell how far back the audience goes, which can be desirable for a performer, but Nelson needed no such false encouragement; he pretty much filled the hundred-and-twenty-seater venue with noisy, happy, and mostly Scottish people. Clearly he has an indigenous fan-base, and he enjoys the staples of the self-mocking Scots comedian: drinking, obesity, and Glasgow.This said, he is clearly very happy to find some audience-members from Northern Ireland, and brings the region up continually for the rest of the set. His audience interaction is great to listen to, and one of the things which make this such a solidly enjoyable show. He never loses control of the banter, though, even when it threatens to get out of hand.The repeated use of Northern Ireland is indicative of the other notable feature of Nelson’s style: he certainly pushes the boundaries of taste. More than once he risks losing his audience, and at least one person felt forced to leave mid-set. One joke which apparently will not be going into the full show, for example, encompassed the very recent mass-murders in Norway.This is why the show is called Guilty Pleasure; even this material, so raw and beyond the pale, is in fact clever and funny. Even while handling a dangerous joke on paedophilia he manages to keep us on-side, and despite his claim that we won’t learn anything from his show, he makes some genuinely wise remarks about minimum alcohol-pricing. He takes his share of risks but, ultimately, they really pay off.

The Blurb

Hilariously hard-hitting, pure, unadulterated, funny new show from Scotland’s fastest rising star. ‘A cracking joke teller … Talent that’s simply obscene … Remarkably accomplished' (List), 'Blistering material … dangerously near the boundaries of good taste' (Sunday Times). Sold-out 2010!