If you haven’t yet witnessed one of Mark Thomas’s live shows, I strongly recommend you try and catch him next time he plays a town near you. He truly is one of the most original performers you will ever see. For the uninitiated, his act consists of a unique blend of information you really ought and need to know accompanied by a scathing wit. Audiences leave his shows inspired and ready to take on the more corrupt elements of the establishment… hopefully this will last longer than until the next morning!
Born in South London in 1963 to a mother who was a midwife and a father who was a self employed builder (and ex lay preacher), Mark did a degree in Theatre Arts and cut his teeth doing shows in miner’s soup kitchens and fund raisers during the strike, which must have given him a grounding in the hypocrisy of modern politics and helped to develop his radical mind set.
He became a professional stand-up in the mid 80’s, and has since had several of his own TV series on Channel 4, as well as writing for Private Eye, fronting human rights related documentaries and being featured frequently on Radio 4.
Mark’s current tour is about creating a people’s manifesto, which he intends to promote by having people stand for election. At the gigs, audiences have been invited to suggest policies, which Mark then discusses, and an audience vote decides which ones will be included in the manifesto. Policies so far have included declaring all Tesco’s car parks to be common land, making offenders convicted of homophobic crimes serve their sentence in drag, and holding open days at MP’s second homes if paid for by expenses. Mark is a mine of information about corporate and government corruption; at the gig I saw, he informed us of such gems as the fact that many top government buildings, including the Inland Revenue and the MOD are leased from tax dodgers with offshore accounts. Often his shows and TV programmes feature demonstrations against whatever organisation he is exposing.
All this does provoke the question ‘how does this man sleep at night?’ Although his delivery is very amusing, the issues Mark is dealing with are extremely serious, and somewhat depressing. His current tour really does highlight the fact that the country we live in is a democracy in name only; you only have to listen to some of the inconsistencies and corruption he has exposed to realise that.
Mark has been arrested and detained by the police on many occasions; one hilarious part of his routine involves an anecdote about evoking his legal right to have his fingerprints and DNA removed from police records… apparently we all have the right to do this if we are innocent, but most people aren’t aware of the fact, so the police continue to hold them on a register.
The main point here is that it is very important that brave pioneers like Mark continue to examine and expose the hidden mechanisms of our major corporations and political systems; its unlikely to change the world overnight, but his very existence ensures that at least some of the perpetrators of bad ethics are held to account. If only there were more like him!
For more information on Mark Thomas, or if you are interested in contributing to the People’s Manifesto or in representing the policies in a local election, go to www.markthomasinfo.com
Tags: Mark Thomas