Edinburgh Festival Fringe: While he’s not the only comic with a self-aggrandising, award judge-baiting show title this year, Mark Forward might have the best chance of making good on his boast.
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
Mocking acclaim for shows about bleak subject matter and conventional stand-up in general, both with his hostile sarcasm and indeed, the schlubby Canadian uses the entire theatre, charging round and up the seating bank as he keeps the audience on their toes.
Willing to truly commit to a bit, the most memorable sequence in this hour containing several features the entire six minute play of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart and him screaming at his poor technician throughout.
Affecting a prickly, volcanic anger, poised to blow his stack at the slightest irritation, Forward nevertheless tempers his combustibility with a sly, self-amused grin that instructs you to take none of this at all seriously. From the moment he takes the stage, muttering about the pressures of being a single parent, and oh, the endless making of sandwiches, prior to demonic thoughts intruding, there’s both aggressive whimsy and thoughtfully silly philosophising. The stool-and-spotlight episodes where he muses upon death and the arrangements for funerals are cases in point.
A priceless moment occurs when this bearish performer, reflecting on the inconsistencies of heaven, envisions an actual bear arriving at the Pearly Gates, growling its total, ursine incomprehension at the imagined scenario.
There are occasional longueurs and the odd cul-de-sac, but they become part of a burgeoning sense of encroaching meltdown, as Forward, a skilled audience manipulator, expertly builds and releases the tension in the room.
Distinctive and offbeat, while remaining relatively accessible, he loses a few audience members to early walkouts. It’s unquestionably their loss, as come his pathetic but spectacular finale, they have missed a barnstormer of a show.
Until 27 August. Today 8:15pm.