Review: Mark Thomas: 100 Acts Of Minor Dissent (Matthews Yard)

By - Wednesday 22nd May, 2013

Tom Black spends an hour in the company of the most charismatic revolutionary this side of Havana

Mark Thomas wants to change the world. In case that wasn’t obvious from his interview last week, his new show will make it perfectly clear.

Unlike so many who want to change the world, however, Thomas actually does something about it. Utilising all the tools available to a citizen of a free democracy, he combines them with a mind built for mischief to create this new show. As the title suggests, it’s about 100 acts of (minor) dissent which he intends to commit between now and May of next year. Nothing is safe – social taboos, commercial conventions, and, yes, the law itself. All will be questioned, prodded and at times perhaps broken, all in the name of making the world a slightly better place.

Even the most po-faced right winger would find it impossible to keep a straight face for the whole show

Thomas uses his hour to explain policies from The People’s Manifesto, his ongoing project to produce a platform to which the whole country has had input, as well as introducing some of the acts of minor dissent he has already done and intends to do next. We’re tantalisingly told that some public efforts may happen in Croydon, so we should all keep an eye open for that.

I hate reviews that give away punchlines, so you’ll find no such practice here. But I can tell you that Thomas takes his audience on a whirlwind tour of dissent. Arms dealers, formulaic authors, pornographers, and the police force all find themselves placed under scrutiny, and typically for a Mark Thomas show, you come away with a sense that you not only find these actions funny, but also that you are grateful that these institutions are being held to some kind of standard. And best of all, it’s absolutely hilarious. Even the most po-faced right winger would find it impossible to keep a straight face for the whole show.

For a comedian, Mark Thomas doesn’t actually tell many jokes. Instead, his infectious charisma and quick wits are turned to explaining the various situations he’s found himself in, from confrontations with policeman of various moral calibres to finding himself at loggerheads with his extremely persistent daughter’s campaigning spirit. The many anecdotes’ farcical nature would be amusing in of themselves, but it’s Thomas’ earthy charm and utterly frank delivery that make them into hilarious tales.

His views never seem preachy, and his frank appeal to facts would be very welcome on Question Time

Through all this, he never once seems to lose a crucial sense of self-awareness, and his views (while shared by and large by this reviewer) never seem preachy – for example, his earnest defence of why we ought to renationalise the railways includes supported statistics and a frank appeal to facts that would be very welcome on Question Time.

Armed with a new sense of purpose and a bundle of ‘Bastardtrade’ stickers (to be applied to any product you feel is produced by a company that exudes the opposite of Fairtrade values), the rest of the audience and I were beaming as we spilled out into the bar at Matthews Yard, where Thomas was on hand to talk to anyone who fancied a chat. It was the perfect end to a transformative (and extremely funny) evening.

In an age where comedy seems to have lost its anti-establishment edge, Mark Thomas is once again proving you can point out the disgraceful injustices in this world and have a laugh at the same time. I can think of nothing more British, and heartily recommend you get a ticket while you still can.

Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom is the Citizen's General Manager, and spent his whole life in Croydon until moving to Balham in 2017. He also writes plays that are occasionally performed and books that are occasionally enjoyed. He's been a Labour Party member since 2007, and in his spare time runs an online publishing house for alternate history books, Sea Lion Press. He is fluent in Danish, but speaks no useful languages. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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