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Stand up Mark takes the fastest route to the punchline

By Margaret Chrystall

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Hear the history and Mark Simmons would be the last person in the world you’d bet on to turn into a stand up specialising in one-liners.

Mark Simmons.
Mark Simmons.

To be honest, he would have been your last choice as a likely stand up.

In the circumstances …

“Before I started comedy, my worst fear was talking in front of people!” Mark confessed.

“At university when you had to give presentations, I’d be worried for days.

“I always liked the idea of being a comedian, but I never gave it much serious thought because I didn’t think it was something I could possibly do.

“Then I bumped into one of my friends after university and he was doing the open mic comedy circuit and was telling me about it and I don’t know how he did it but he convinced me to have a go – to sign up and go along and do five minutes of material.

“He gave me a week, which definitely isn’t enough time to write that much, which I now know … but I went along and did it and was very nervous and apparently I looked at the floor for the entire set.

“But I got some laughs

“And what I realised was when I got a laugh, it filled me with confidence. And I realised my fear of talking in front of other people is actually fear of them being bored or not interested in what I’m saying.

“So I think why I like one-liners is that I like to get to the laugh as quick as possible because I don’t like talking for too long.

“Even now, and if I had to give a serious speech, I don’t think I’d be comfortable doing that.

“The other reason is my brain just works that way.

“When you start comedy you experiment with different styles just to see what you are, so I tried everything! I started surreal, then did stories, but even the stories always ended up as one-liners pretty much. That’s just how I’m wired, I think.

“I remember vividly the first time I saw Jimmy Carr and not long after he started he did the Royal Variety Performance and that was back in the days when all the family would sit down and watch it.

“And I remember watching that and it blowing my mind. I had never seen one-liners before where you had to kind of think about it to get it! And I just loved that.”

Now Mark holds the title UK Comics Comic voted for by other stand ups, he is out on his first headlining tour, and he has his own successful podcast Jokes With Mark Simmons – sharing with other stand ups those jokes that just won’t work and why.

Maybe the reason Mark Simmons’ rise has been meteoric is simple – nothing's scary any more.

His experience with comedy has certainly seemed to have changed his whole attitude to tackling scary things in life.

“Now I tend to take a running jump at whatever I’m scared of,” he said. “And I try and think of myself as a character and that helps.

“Now, to be honest, I’m more comfortable on stage than I am off it!”

Mark Simmons: Quip Off The Mark with support from Danny Ward comes to Eden Court on Wednesday. May 31 at 8pm and Aberdeen Breakneck comedy on Thursday, June 1, doors from 7pm. TICKETS EDEN COURT:


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