The Best of The Comedy Store: The Comedy Store, London, 1990
Loving Linda Smith Gala Concert: In Aid of Target Ovarian Cancer: Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 2015
Mark Thomas: Check Up Our NHS @ 70: Battersea Arts Centre, London, 2019
Mark Thomas: 50 Things About Us (Work-in-Progress): The Old Firestation, Carlisle, 2019
Mark Thomas is an English stand-up comedian, presenter, political satirist and journalist from south London. He has performing stand-up comedy for thirty-four years and I first saw him perform at The Comedy Store showcase featuring the talents of Linda Smith, Phill Jupitus and Hattie Hayridge all at relatively early stages in their careers back in 1990. After Smith’s untimely death from cancer in 2006, I saw Thomas appear at a gala concert in Edinburgh in 2015.
Thomas is as famous for his political engagement as he is for his comedy and watching him live, He speaks quickly and passionately getting his extremely well researched facts across, slowing during moments of tenderness and heartbreak, and regaining speed throughout issues that anger him. He is a fantastic performer and great comedian.
In 2011, I spent ten days in hospital for a major back operation. I am now ok but having never spent time in hospital before, Whipps Cross Hospital in East London was unfamiliar to me and I felt alone, helpless and scared for my future and I was in a lot of pain, As I was being sedated before the operation took place and to make small talk because of nerves, I asked the Scottish surgeon who was going to perform my operation where he was from. He replied that he was from Edinburgh and after telling him that I went to the Fringe Festival every year, I then started to tell terrible jokes. After a few jokes with no responses, I was asleep and unresponsive. The operation took place and I woke up in a daze back at the ward and finished telling the jokes to whoever was listening! It took me a while to realise where I was and what was happening but the nurses and staff on that ward were some of the most courageous, supportive and friendly people I have ever met who seemed to calmly deal with a crisis at any given moment. I saw Thomas’s show at the Battersea Arts Centre in April 2019 which celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the National Health Service. The comedian looked at the its current state, where it is going and what needs to be done to keep it. The show was filled with detailed, well researched fact from the angry, energetic and extremely likeable political activist and stand-up comedy. Thomas’ summarised the performance by explaining to the audience that the NHS is held together by goodwill, faith and public service and not solely by profit. I was in complete agreement with him as I will never forget my time in hospital. The great, witty raconteur delivered a though-provoking, entertaining show and I for one want to thank the NHS for all that it does.
I saw Thomas again at The Old Firestation in Carlisle in October 2019 where he performed a new work-in-progress show 50 Things About Us. After about twenty minutes of talking about operations and being funny, an unfortunate incident occurred were a member of the audience fell ill. The show was stopped, an ambulance had to be called and he was taken to hospital. The audience remained calm and we were reassured that he was ok. Once the show resumed, Thomas went up a gear and ranted about heckling, the prime minister, the National Anthem and playing golf. It was a real tonic to listen to his honest, intelligent and comical views in such a confused political time. Thomas is one of the best comedians at telling a story and I look forward to seeing him again soon.