Summarised as “part theatre, part stand up, part journalism, part activism”, Mark Thomas’ latest show The Red Shed is the final instalment of a trilogy of critically acclaimed shows (Bravo Figaro, followed by Cuckooed), which sees him return to a labour club in Wakefield, a place Thomas credits for aiding him in developing his political conscience, as well as his public speaking skills. The satirical television show The Mark Thomas Product ran for six series, and is a prime example of the comic’s passion for influential socialist comedy that encourages action, thus showing the importance of comedy for social development.
To learn more about the man behind the satire, I asked Mark these seven questions…
1) Is it easier or harder to produce political comedy when the political landscape becomes so volatile?
If we were a half decent nation of comedy lovers we would erect a monument to all the topical gags that were cut down in their prime in the great post Brexit war.
2) Do you consider comedy to be an art form?
Yes. Why on earth would I not? Comedy has traditionally been regarded as the bastard child of ‘proper’ theatre but those days are long gone.
3) Do you think comedy has become diluted in recent years?
To be honest, I have not seen as much comedy as I should have done in the past few years, but those I do see are magnificent. Mark Steel, Josie Long, Bridget Christie et al are all very exciting. Diluted? No. TV comedy is a different question and you should never expect too much from TV. Commissioners and channel controllers are generally conservative folk full of fear for their jobs, with little sense of art and history, or indeed public service.
4) Are you a guarded person?
5) What makes you uncomfortable?
Over heating on tube trains and family get togethers.
6) Do we have true freedom of speech?
Oh man. People can say what they like. But if they incite hatred and physical attack they break the law. People who want freedom of speech so that they can be racist are being irrational. They would not claim a stalker had a right for free speech to say what they want in abusive phone calls, they would or should say that it is harassment and illegal. So how can they claim their desire to abuse and attack other races to be a ‘right’.
7) Do you think we live in a truly democratic society?
Nice question. No, is the answer, not enough democracy. There should be (in no particular order) no royal family, no House of Lords, workers from industry on board of companies, proportional representation, Scottish independence, nationalised banks and no MP allowed to have a second income, open all phone logs and details of meetings for all MPs and ministers, public funding of political parties and no lobbyists.