It’s hard these days to find comics, amongst the slick and edgy big leagues, with a genuine sense of mischief. But if you look up the word “raconteur” in the dictionary, I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw Mark Thomas smiling impishly out from the pages.
Thomas knows how to play comedic contrast like a grand piano.
Channelling a mixture of jolly energy and furious outrage, Trespass recounts his war stories of fighting carnivorous corporations in the only way they deserve: utterly in-your-face, wall-to-wall ridiculousness.
When it comes to energy, Thomas is the comedy equivalent of a reactor going into meltdown: there were times during his show that he approached an anecdote with such gusto that I was afraid he might explode. But he knows exactly how to control that energy: the best humor in the show came from the hard stops, when wild gibbering became a wall of silence, followed by a single stinging punchline. Thomas knows how to play comedic contrast like a grand piano.
Of course, Thomas’ comedy is deeply rooted in his anarchist beliefs, and it’s hard not to be convinced of his conviction when he’s on stage. Judging by the audience reactions, he was preaching to the choir, but by the end I wouldn’t have been surprised if the entire audience had gone out and done a sit-in near a no loitering sign. Thomas is a passionate man, and that passion lends such a sincerity and substance to his act that it’s difficult not to laugh along with him.
But there are tell-tale signs of a work in progress. Thomas sometimes got so caught up in his own energy that he appeared to lose place or repeat himself. And, given the reliance of the act on location and navigation, it may have been useful to keep up his visual aids a little longer for those of us who aren’t familiar with London.
Nevertheless, Trespass is a great piece of feel-good stand up. Thomas’ energy, affability and general sense of roguish mischief made that little auditorium feel more like a friendly community rather than an audience. I walked out of there with a smile on my face which lasted for hours.