Venue: The Counting House
Some one-liner comedians prioritise quantity over quality, delivering an hour of half-chuckles and near-silent sniggers instead of producing the sort of laughter that makes your stomach clench like it’s a ketchup bottle and you’re trying to get the last few drops out. In My Life’s a Joke!, Will Mars places himself very much in the latter category, packing in punch after punch of great material. His few digressions from a well-honed show are on point, as are his interactions with the audience are never mean but always hilarious.
The central theme of Mars’s show is how depressing it is to be Will Mars. While that might not seem like the best premise for an hour of comedy, his self-effacing character never asks for pity or blames others (bar his absent father, who is a recurring character in the set). It, therefore, avoids a descent into an awkward whining that so many lesser practised comedians lapse into when taking on the ills of the world.
Topics vary from Mars being luckless in love to his deprived upbringing in the Midlands, but his charm and style mean you don’t have to linger on the occasionally uncomfortable truths he puts out.
At points some premises are overdone, and his delivery occasionally lacks a tiny bit of fluency, but even these clunkier bits elicit laughs from the audience. While Mars is incredibly good at what he does, there are also places where he could delve a little deeper into a subject. His bit on white privilege gets laughs from all the younger members of the audience, while the grey-haired ones do what most old, white people do when confronted with a truth that might cause a bit of introspection: bristle slightly and ignore it. Of course, it’s not Mars’ job to set the world to rights but to entertain, which nobody could accuse him of not doing.
Mars is an excellent comic, and his imagination and capacity for quick thinking are what makes this show such a delight. If the world was fair, he would be getting plenty of recognition, but sadly – as Mars painfully points out – that’s just not how things work for people like him. But if they did, would he have as much to say?
Aug 28-29, 13:30
Image credit: Gabriel Michael