Mark Thomas: A Show That Gambles on the Future

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Mark Thomas
Published 17 Aug 2017

Creatively, the content doesn't gamble on all that much, but the central premise of Mark Thomas's new show is enough to carry it through as an enjoyable hour of speculation. A Show That Gambles on the Future begins with a promise: the predictions that the audience make about any events in the near-future (filled out on a slip of paper before the show) will be read out, polled by the audience, and the winning suggestion taken to the bookies with actual stakes.

It's an original format, and the winnings (which have actually materialised from previous iterations of the show) are donated to charity. The predictions are fairly...predictable, though. For the most part as Thomas reads aloud the entries then endorses (or spoofs) them, the show resembles a giant ideological echo chamber, filled with the reverberated sound of people patting themselves on the back. He gives people what they want to hear: rose-tinted political delusions and the familiar condemnations of Trump and Brexit.

Interspersed with the survey responses are some strong, if a tad unrelated, traditional standup routines on his religious upbringing. There's a real dramatic power to his delivery, and he has an old-timey charm and entertaining showmanship about him.

Ultimately it's his ability to engage with audiences and their ideas en masse that elevates the show, seemingly with a quip up his sleeve about any random forecast you can make. It's sincere, well-intentioned fun, even if he does seem to think that a Corbyn Premiership is more likely than death and taxes.