Live review, Mark Steel lectures Latitude
Tim Clark18 July 2008
For anyone who's grown up learning about Leonardo Da Vinci the Mark Steel way, a chance to hear the world's best alternative lecturer live was an opportunity not to be missed.
Mark Steel himself feels like he’s getting old. Relegated as he was to the outer reaches of the literary tent from the comedy stage, he felt he needed to justify his place in life.
Surprisingly this came in the form of Rage Against the Machine, his singing ability, and a revelation in a living room.
“I’ve seen it myself,” Steel concedes, “You can’t sing along to Rage while hoovering, it just doesn’t work.”
“Fuck you I won’t do what you... oh I missed a spot behind the sofa.”
Self-deprecating introductions aside, Steel was here to bring his Mark Steel lectures to an audience eager and large enough to prove that once again Latitude like their tents one size too small.
Anyone who's seen the TV series would know, Steel is adept at taking a historical context and, through his musings, giving it a modern twist.
Choosing Karl Marx as his historical radical to ridicule, within minutes he was linking tales of Marx as a drunken loon to his unmasking of David Cameron’s new conservatism done with a rap voice.
Bashing the Tories provided the warm up for an hour of historical satiric wit, digging out the quirky facts and dispelling the myth.
Marx wasn’t the grey haired socialist who tried to raise hell with the Communist Manifesto, he was a rip roaring, rude, obsessive bastard who spent most of this life drunk, scabbing off his friends and whose funeral was only attended by eleven people.
It is an excellent portrayal of a guy who wrote the world’s second best selling book (after the Bible).
The depth of the comedy only adds to the appeal. People want to hear him because he genuinely has something to say.
Rather than finding a funny pun and using it for a cheap laugh, Steel dismantles facts and reassembles them, often with the odd anecdote shoved in for comic effect.
Before long, the lecture on Marx was cast aside as Steel drifts enthusiastically into tales of Tony Benn having a fracas at Glastonbury and his disenchantment with the organised left, culminating with the recollection of George Galloway on Big Brother licking someone’s toes in aid of the Socialist cause. “Why George, why?” pleads Steel despondently.
Yet what Steel does best - and every history teacher should sit up and take notice - is to identify with even the most dry historical concept and creating an aura that its interesting while providing most of the audience with their first history lesson in over a decade.
Your rating: None
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