It may come as a shock to hear Mark Nelson, probably best known for his BBC Scotland’s The News at 3 videos starring his young daughter, exclaim midway through his new show Irreverence that “I bet nobody else is doing a show about fingering a baby!”
However, this acerbic Scottish comic is right, his baby-fingering routine is probably not one many comedians would cover in their act, but as a dad trying to cure his son’s chronic constipation, Nelson at least has an excuse. His other job as a father of two young children provides him with ample material to fill an entire hour, from the difficulties of having a conversation with a baby whose vocabulary stretches to “Dad” and “milk” to his response to an angry Chinese mother’s complaint about his videos. Most other comedians would be content with just sticking to this brand of humour.
Nelson instead branches out his comedic talents to include a broad range of subjects from the absurdities of the Trump presidency to the uselessness of millennials with the same razor-sharp wit. Nelson’s skewering of Trump is particularly brutal, with the highlight being his graphic account of Melania Trump performing oral sex on “The Donald”, which produced as many groans as well as laughs from the enthusiastic Saturday night audience. As can be seen, Nelson isn’t afraid to go to the darker edges of comedy for his jokes, as he admits at the start of the show, those expecting the more family-friendly humour of his BBC videos are in for a shock.
As well as the aforementioned “baby-fingering”, some of Nelson’s other darker jokes receive a vocally positive response from the audience. However, one reference to Freddie Mercury’s immune system did result in shocked gasps and murmurs, suggesting that Nelson may have gone too far in his pushing the boundaries. However, his confident delivery as well as his instant rapport with the audience, swiftly turning what could have been awkward moments of heckling into sharp, witty banter, allow Nelson to keep the audience engaged and on his side regardless of how dark the material gets.
Mark Nelson: Irreverence is an hour-long example of Nelson’s ability to keep an audience entertained with a wide range of material without trying to play it safe. It might be too early to say, but it could already be one of the comedic highlights of this year’s Fringe.