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Mark Thomas: Extreme Rambling (Walking The Wall), Stockton Arc PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ian Wolf   
16 05 2011
ImageHaving previously tackled the arms trade, Coca-Cola and the Serious Organised Crime Act, comedian and activist Mark Thomas decided to take a nice relaxing walk - along the Israeli Barrier in the West Bank. The idea behind Thomas' new show was his attempt to try to learn more about the political situation in Israel and Palestine.

As expected with any show presented by Thomas, the show is of a left-wing persuasion; even the programme is sponsored by the Fire Brigade's Union, War on Want, and the Fair Trade Foundation. It is also sponsored by the Metropolitan Police, and by ‘sponsored', I mean ‘funded with the money Thomas got in compensation when the Met wrongly stopped and searched him'.

Extreme Rambling is at times a real eye opener, and certainly a tear-jerker, as is explained when Thomas learned how to use an onion in order to avoid the effects of tear gas. There are some real shocks in the show, too, both in Thomas' delivery and his storytelling - the routine centred on how a Palestinian should, but doesn't, get a permit to work in Israel for free is particularly insightful.

While there is a lot of information to take in when seeing a comedian like Mark Thomas, most of the show is consistently funny, with stories as diverse as the oddest fancy dress costume, a peculiar trip to a zoo, a chat with a Zionist estate agent, and Thomas's revived sense of patriotism. Thomas is a deeply political comic but he's also playful enough on stage to hold the crowd's attention.

However in truth the biggest laugh of the evening didn't come from Thomas but from the audience. The comedian was just coming to the end of a very poignant story. He gave a dramatic pause, and just at that moment, a member of the audience blew their nose. It brought the house down, in what Thomas described at the time as one of the best heckles he has ever had. I guess that's the unpredictable magic of comedy.

Further dates and information about the show can be found on the Mark Thomas website. His new book, Extreme Rambling, comes out on 14th April.
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