Photo of Mark Simmons

Mark Simmons: “Quip off the Mark – Huntingdon Hall, Worcester – 24th September 2023

We were in the safe hands of hired-hand Dan Ward, an errant school boy albeit in his 40s, who made easy work of supporting the main pun-slinger. Modern life as we know throws up some sublime opportunities. Ward’s skit about employing the Wetherspoons app for good, warmed up the evening much like the Wetherspoons microwaves warm up their meals. Ping. The comedian’s arsenal of props proved he had has a gimlet eye for detail and the farcical implements brought forth much mirth. Joking apart, the grabbing-hand for pickled eggs earned more than one or two envious glances. These details and the final “call-back,” including Amanda Holden’s career path, set the mood for the evening.

The named comedian on the posters, Mark Simmons, has come a long way since he won the Best Joke award at the Edinburgh fringe in 2017…around 310 road miles, or there about, on tonight’s calculations alone.

Simmons appeared on stage apologising profusely for his bad back and clutching several cans of Red Bull. Both of these details were seemingly unimportant.

Mark Simmons employs puns in the same way Bob Mortimer uses prat-falls on TV:  he can’t help himself. Simmons inner monologue must be exhausting as he goes about his daily business. Imagine a trip to the takeaway:  Worker: “Would you like to go large?” Simmons: “Yes, that’s why I am eating in here!”

Measured and deliberate Simmons set about winning over the audience. The vocal delivery was perceptibly slow to allow the distillation of his pun’s meaning to fully mature. All delivered with a smile which underlined his sense of fun. Of course, some of the punchlines were more like caresses, or strokes or even love-slaps but they all initiated a response.

Some of the puns required more time and lengthy detours around the stage. His insistence on playing for laughs – no matter the cost -meant you had to follow intently. The investment in the acrylic art on canvases was a set-up which ensured a lot of time and energy was invested in the routine. The laughter and applause were worthy of the build-up.

The build-up to the pinch-line as he asked two rows of the audience what their individual heights were? Required a bravery normally reserved for fans of Mrs Browns Boys to come forward.

Moving forward, it took me too long to work this one out. I sent a text to my boss…“How do I pick up a heavy box?” He text me straight back.

The night started and ended with Mark Simmons bad back. It began with collective concern and finished with a coy smile. The Red Bull cans? Well, still thinking about that one.

By: The Swilgate Scuttler

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