Mark Steel begins with a witty satire about the calamitous circus show that was the recent Tory election campaign, setting the tone for this solid left-wing stand-up show. The show is heavy on bloke humour, which is no bad thing. Steel is most comfortable either delivering inventive jokes on politics, or with self-deprecating material about his passion for watching sports or his experiences touring the comedy circuits.
Steel’s stand-up has a consistent story arc throughout, and ends on an upbeat note, both politically and personally.
Steel’s impressions throughout are really assured, and he soars eagle-like into them from more observational sections. He does, however, devote slightly too much time to recreating personal injury claims adverts he received from Liverpudlian call centres. Although these got strong laughs initially, he appeared to lose his bearings about where in this section he had reached, thereby covering a lot of similar ground twice. That said, this section ties into the broader bemusement that he successfully encapsulates about the boom that businesses with no social worth whatsoever are experiencing in the country today, contrasted starkly with the fate of anything vaguely useful. Laughing at the state of austerity Britain proves deeply cathartic, and Steel sees to the heart of the social forces at work with consistent wit.
Recounting stories of the marriage mediation that he recently endured during his divorce, Steel’s characterisation of the infuriatingly positive counsellor is also an enjoyable recurring quip. This is particularly impressive as she differs so drastically from Steel’s own down-to-earth South London persona, and the entire audience was laughing at imagining the two clashing. However, the show does lose energy somewhat with his extended personal reflections on the breakup of this relationship. I do think that Steel was perhaps on to something when he stated that he should have left this section to next year’s Fringe, when he would be slightly less bitter about what had occurred.
Steel’s stand-up has a consistent story arc throughout, and ends on an upbeat note, both politically and personally. The overall delivery of the show left the impression of a skilled and assured performer.