Mark Trenwith – Express
Mark Trenwith @ Rhino Room Downstairs
7:45pm, Thu 19 Mar 2009
Mark Trenwith is a bit of an interesting one. After having been unimpressed by his standup efforts (and only mildly amused by his video work) in 2007, he came highly recommended this year by Karen and David Hyland (you know, the couple that see tons of Fringe comedy every year). And he’s got a very Australian feel to his comedy, and his energetic enthusiasm can be infectious… the problem is that I’m not convinced he’s a very good standup comedian.
Now, don’t get me wrong; the man is funny. Or rather, he has funny ideas. The problem is that his standup delivery is a little wooden, and so he winds up leaning on pre-recorded video segments for large chunks of the show. And that’s fine – they’re all very well produced and edited, and the use of video as a medium certainly opens up a range of possibilities not available to a man onstage, armed with just a microphone. And several of the segments are brilliantly funny – the costume shop and compliment bits stand out, and the hip-hop battle is the highlight of the night (even if it was cunningly staged).
But I’m of the (old-fashioned?) opinion that a standup comedian should be… you know… a comedian first, and anything else on top of that is a bonus. Trenwith’s show is almost the opposite; it had me feeling like I was at an (admittedly entertaining) home movie night, punctuated by a mildly amusing chap trying out some average new material (there were Wii puns, for god’s sake – haven’t we got past that yet?). And there’s a clumsy attempt to wrap the show up neatly, as he wonders why we don’t express ourselves (is it repression, culture, comfort?) and then goes for the big feel-good “I love you” ending.
Things were running way late at the Rhino Room this evening, which means I’m clock-watching the entire show. It didn’t really matter in the end, though; Trenwith only had 45 minutes of material, meaning I was able to scoot across the city to the next show in plenty of time. And, to be honest, I reckon I might’ve started getting stroppy if he’d gone on much longer – because that would probably have meant another video, and that would then be taking the piss.