Mark Nelson: Offending the Senses

Article by Lyle Brennan | 12 Apr 2010

From his black-hearted humour and his no-holds-barred topicality to his stiff-jawed, narrow-eyed demeanour and distinctly Scottish sardonic style, it’s easy to imagine Mark Nelson plagued by comparisons to a certain ginger grouch. While it would be unfair to think of him purely in relation to Frankie Boyle, there’s simply no escaping the likeness. Tonight, though, Nelson proves himself a talent not to be overshadowed by his better-known counterpart.

He says he’s trying to dispel his reputation for offensive material – but not trying too hard, it seems. A technically excellent, tightly woven (though occasionally slightly mechanical) set sees him rub salt into even the freshest of wounds, tearing into tabloid and primetime fodder with aplomb. Accessible subject material like this dices with unoriginality, but even when dealing with easy targets like Susan Boyle and Katie Price, Nelson’s imaginative turn of phrase allows him to keep things fresh. Likewise, the considerable mileage the Dumfries man derives from attacks on Scotland – relying on the standard-issue arsenal of obesity, neds, alcoholism and rural bestiality – is familiar without ever seeming stale. A slick, crowd-pleasing act that gambles with the boundaries of taste but never those of quality.