24 April 2023

Mark Steel

I get regular emails from Pontio. What tends to happen is that I think I don't have time to go see whatever they have an offer anyway, so I delete the email. But one day I got an email that's specified in the subject line what it was about. And that was a gig by Mark Steel! And I like Mark Steel. I love how he takes the piss of literally any location in ‘Mark Steel’s in town’, and if he pops up in other programmes like the Newsquiz I also enjoy what he does. So when I saw that mail I paid attention. 

I don’t go see comedians often; I think the last time was Phill Jupitus in 2017 (who did name check Mark Steel in his show!). But this sounded good and I thought people might agree with me. I asked the usual crowd; Sue and Dean were interested, Martin would just be back from the sea and figured he’d be knackered, and Tom and Siobhan didn’t respond. So the three of us would go. But we did convince Martin to come and join us for dinner beforehand.

It had been a hectic day. I had had to judge student posters in the morning, and get that done before our lunch seminar. Both activities were even in the same room, so at the end of the poster session, we had to get rid of the posters, and bring all the chairs back into the room. The start of the seminar also coincided with the deadline for students to upload their presentations and abstracts. And I needed to put the presentations in the correct OneDrive folders for the conference that Monday, and make the abstracts into conference booklets. That is quite a lot of work! But first that seminar. And then agreeing poster grades with my colleague. And still answering buckets of emails from panicking students.

I wasn't done when I had to leave in order to be ready for our dinner. And we hadn't really timed it well! We had to hurry up. We pretty much dashed out of the restaurant, leaving Martin behind to take care of the bill. But we would compensate him later, of course. But it's not how you want a dinner with friends to end!

We got to the theatre on time, and took our seats. Soon Susan spotted that Tom and Siobhan were there as well! But with other people. Oh dear.

Then the man himself appeared. And he kicked off! I know he can be quite energetic, and he was clearly not holding back. And even though this was not a mark steals in town episode, he did make sure to take the piss out of Bangor. He figured it was incredibly far away from everything. I suppose we've noticed! He also figured it was a very dull place. I suppose I've noticed that too. And he also mocked us; he thought we were a rather old and reactionary audience. Maybe we were! He also asked us who of us was actually Welsh. And it was clearly a minority that answered… he decided quite a lot of us were probably second home owners from London.

He also talked about his old mother, and the Queen, and regional accents, and cultural differences between countries, and Jeremy Hardy. That got a big applause! I suppose there is a big overlap between Jeremy Hardy fans and Mark Steel fans. And he covered a lot more but I can't remember all of that now.

Mark Steel on stage

He was quite funny, but of course I expected that. I was fairly familiar with his work! But I thought in person he could be a bit exhausting. Although it could just have been that I was already exhausted and just didn't cope very well!

In the interval, he played some songs, accompanying himself on the piano. We thought his comedy was better than his singing. And then after the interval he just ploughed on! I must admit I was seriously flagging at the end. I really wanted to be in bed. We also suspected he had tuned his material a bit to the age of the audience, which we were single-handedly drawing down. And when he was done, we quickly left.

I am glad we went! It was good. Although I wish I had been less tired. Maybe I can sort that next time I go see a comedian, in another six years or so! 

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