Ref NoBSUCA/Events/2/1
CollectionBritish Stand-Up Comedy Archive Events
TitleLinda Smith Lecture 2015: Mark Thomas
Name of creatorThomas, Mark, 1963-; Double, Oliver, 1965-
Extent2 audio files Broadcast WAVE Format (BWF)
DescriptionMark Thomas gives the inaugural Linda Smith Lecture on 12 May 2015 at the Gulbenkian Theatre.
[Time-codes reflect the recording made through the Gulbenkian audio system]
Track 1 [0:00] Introduction- crowd before performance. [0:27] Olly Double introduces Mark Thomas and the Linda Smith lecture, giving some background about Linda herself, about her collection within the British Stand- Up comedy Archive and the origin of the lecture series [5:16] Mark Thomas comes on stage and begins to talk about Linda Smith and his role in delivering the first, annual, lecture in her honour [6:34] Mark begins to talk about his first stand-up comedy performance in 1985 and his first experiences of comedy when he was younger including seeing Tommy Trinder live in Battersea Arts Centre in 1979 and the eclectic range of acts that would perform on the comedy circuit when he was young. [9:20] Mark describes his first experience of Alternative Cabaret at Jongleurs in London in 1982, a venue which he had helped his Dad to decorate. Acts on this night included Nick Revel, a mime artist, a low-wire act and a squeeze-box orchestra. [11:20] Mark explains how alternative comedy seemed to revitalise the variety of acts performing on the circuit. [12:00] Mark talks about the other acts that were on the bill of his first comedy performance, at a pub called the White Lion in Putney on 19th November 1985: Compere was John Lenehan: street magician, Mike Brown: musician, Andy Johnson: Tortoise Impressionist. [13:37] Mark references research from the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive: articles from the Times and Time Out talking about the wide variety of acts in the alternative cabaret circuit. [16:50] Mark talks about running a comedy club in the New Cross Tavern in Deptford called the Electric Chair comedy club. [20:02] Mark begins to discuss the impact of the lack of funding on the cabaret circuit, especially in terms of Left-wing theatre companies. He continues to say that the decline of touring theatre companies meant the rise of the stand-up comedians. [21:00] Mark explains about the impact of the theatre company CAST and its creator Rowland Muldoon [22:29] Mark references material found in the Meccano Collection at the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive which reveals, through club receipts, about the comedians that performed there and what they were being paid. Mark explains that on this average payment, performing at a few of venue's per week, comedians could make 3 times the (1995) average wage. [29:20] Mark discusses his influences and reasons for wanting to do comedy to make a difference. Such as Dave Allen, Alexei Sayle, The Clash, Bertolt Brecht , Trevor Griffiths and journalists such as Alecky Blythe [Sound stops at 35:00] [39.50 sound reappears quietly] Mark explains a list he wrote about what comedians should consider before every gig. He talks about dressing smart for an audience, because they have made an effort to come and see you. [40:30] A gig is and encounter/experience/meeting and not a recital. [41.49] Never blame the audience even if you consider it a bad gig. [42:08] Play and be honest with the audience and take them on a journey, referencing American comedian Steve Wright. [43:47] Participation and dialogue are important. The audience will self-police hecklers. Don't take yourself too seriously. Leave them wanting more. Always look for new ideas, Mark references the influence of the fluxus art movement on his idea of participation within art. [47:58] What happens in the venue is the start: the start of ideas, a dialogue and participation and action. [48:27] You don't need to say something provocative to be provocative. [49:05] Mark explains his desire to marry this list with his earlier idea of reaching beyond the economic unit within comedy. He starts to explain about his live shows and how they encourage action. [49.37] Mark begins by talking about his show Walking The Wall where he walked the length of the Israeli wall in the Left Bank. [51:58] Mark talks about his show the Manifesto in which he got members of the audience to suggest manifesto ideas. Some ideas were put into action such as making use of MP's second homes. [57:31] Mark talks about his show Cuckooed.

Track 2: [00:00] Mark begins to ask for questions [00:18] Audience member asks Mark about dealing with ego and adrenaline after a performance [00:33] Mark says that the ego motivates but not to take yourself too seriously as a performer and about having a 'brain dump' after a show after a surge of adrenaline. [3:01] Audience member asks what Mark thinks will happen to comedy following the 2015 election success of the Tory government [03:12] Mark says comedians won't run out of material and that comedy has a power to find resolution in absurdism and how he hopes comedy will become more hopeful & enquiring and looks forward to how much comedians and the public will be able to push the new government, especially young, new comedians. [6.34] Audience member asks (in reference to Mark's show Bravo Figaro), whether he actually did the opera for his father [6.59] Mark responds saying that he did, in partnership with the Royal Opera House and opera director Mike Figgis, produced an opera show which was performed in Mark's fathers bungalow. This project started after Mark chose this song for Inheritance Tracks on BBC Radio 4. He explains that this was a tribute to his father who had a love for opera. [14.23] Audience member asks why Mark has a step ladder on that stage with him [14.83] Mark says this is because the venue did not have a clothes horse and wanted to add theatricality to the lecture. [15.25] Audience member asks Mark to talk more about Linda Smith [15.35] Mark responds by saying it is hard not to love Linda and continues to tell stories about meeting Linda and gigging with her. Firstly this was as part of Sheffield Popular Theatre (created by her partner Warren Lakin who was in the audience) and then as part of the Cutting Edge group at the Comedy Store in 1990. He continues to talk about this group and how they were able to produce satire that could not necessarily be found in the mainstream media. [23:34] Audience member asks whether comedians are right to blame their performance on the audience & venue. [23.59] Marks says that venue does matter and discusses different venues can cater to/produce different types of audience. He also discusses how he can set the tone of the gig by just playing music before the show. [29.23] [In reference to Mark's list of performance tips that he spoke about and illustrated during the show] And Audience member asks whether the, then, Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, would have fared better in the 2015 general election if he had used Mark's words rather than his election policies. [29.29] Mark talks about Ed Miliband and his opinion on his failure in the 2015 general election and the fall out in the Labour Party following the result. [31.16] Audience member asks Mark whether he remembers the Bound and Gagged club in Palmers Green [31.23] Mark and the audience member discuss the club and memories from that time including that of the owner and fellow performers and continues to talk about how nudity played a part in comedy when Mark was beginning to perform. Mark talks about Malcolm Hardee and why he should be praised for his support of cabaret acts and talks about his funeral in 2005. [38.14] Audience member comments on how relevant Mark Thomas' show 'Mark Thomas Comedy Product' is more relevant than ever and asks whether he would do this again. [38.28] Mark explains that him and TV have a 'mutual disregard for each other'. He said he is good at burning bridges and explains that as soon as the show was no longer pushing boundaries, it was time to give it up. [46.57] Audience member asks whether Mark Thomas' phone has ever been hacked. [47.01] Mark says he has no idea and finishes the show thanking the audience.
We also hold a poster for 'Mark Thomas: Extreme Rambling Walking the Wall' Tour 2010, with there are handwritten notes by Mark Thomas listing what to do when performing, which formed a part of the Linda Smith Lecture 2015..
NotesListen to some extracts from this lecture on SoundCloud:
PhysicalDescriptionAudio file WAV LPCM 48kHz 24 bit stereo
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU.
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