One does not simply get bestowed the honour of being a Comic’s Choice Award Lifetime Achievement recipient without being a darn fine comedian, and Mark Banks is just that, and also happens to be onstage at Theatre on the Bay with his show Banksrupt, until 11 February 2017.
Upfront comedy preference confession: The Mark Banks style of quirky, witty comedy with a good dose of word play and subtext, drizzled with just enough often dry sarcasm is exactly the type of comedy that appeals to me. It challenges you to think, with the resulting laughter being so much more rewarding when the punchline is intelligently constructed.
So given that confession, it was with much delight that I took my seat at Theatre on the Bay to see him in his latest show Banksrupt. My chosen seat was upstairs, row AA… Mark Banks is a comedian after all, and I am way too shy to want to be in conversation-shooting range with a mind of that magnitude. I sat throughout the show in almost childlike awe. I was literally leaning forward, head in hands, staring in fascination at his onstage antics.
In this show Mr Banks uses comedy to not only question to what extent our country (and by implication ourselves as citizens) are in fact financially bankrupt, but also wonders out loud whether we are politically, socially, ethically, or even morally bankrupt too. As he himself states, actually anything with a “ly” is open for ridicule. In doing so he uses carefully chosen stereotypical South African characters (bringing his acting skills into the comedy mix) to charmingly coax his audience into laughing at the problems we know exist, but also laughing at some ‘incidental’ prejudices. I did mention subtext, right? So allow yourself to indulge in the in-show opportunities to read between the lines!
I have always liked the idea that comedy is a way of holding a mirror up to society and almost tricking audiences into being more aware of their interactions with one another. Banksrupt is a show that does this very well. Out of the four very entertaining characters that it brings to stage, I must admit myself partial to the news reporter and travel agent. Pair that with the crowd pleasing Theatre on the Bay 'history' recap with a phantom-type twist and you see me sitting in the theatre with a grin so big it could rival that of the Cheshire Cat.
I can vouch for the fact that the tongue-in-cheek comedy method is definitely used to great effect in Banksrupt. I was smiling, laughing, giggling and gasping for the full 80 odd minutes of the show. If you appreciate the art that goes into constructing a great joke, the skill that it takes to execute it with impeccable timing, and if you want to see a comedic master at work that can get a laugh without having to go below the belt with obscenity or excessive use of expletives, then I urge you to book to see Banksrupt at Theatre on the Bay. With the show ending on Saturday, 11 February 2017, time is running out. I am so happy that I got my Computicket tickets in time, I hope you do the same.