29th Jul 2012 1:50pm | By Alasdair Morton
Australian Mark Little makes a return to the stand-up stage with a show that considers today, tomomorrow and all our futures
“I have always been an Aussie-Euro-Brit. Australia is where I come from, but I have a good sense of humour – you have to be able to have the piss taken out of you here,” Mark Little says.
He’s been on this little island for more than 20 years, plying his trade as a comedian and actor, but returns to the stand-up circuit this summer after a 10-year absence, showcasing a new gig of political and social observations and suggestions.
Little’s back where he belongs, doing what he started out doing, and, frankly, what he does best.
The Bullshit Artist is created by and for these times, a one-man performance shot through with sardonic observations, optimistic proclamations and a sense of the global. It’s brought on by the times in which we live, Little says.
“There was a new government, the coalition, the Occupy movement, police kettling, all of that,” he explains.
“There was a groundswell of movement and I thought: ‘This is great, there is a new audience for my stuff.’ In the show, we look at generations and at how each one is affected, and how they differ.
“And then, I give this directive: ‘Hands up the smart people in the room.’ You get one or two people who put their hands up, because dumbing down has worked.
But, by the end of the show, it turns out that people aren’t as dumb as they think they are. The reason the world is in a mess is because the smart people aren’t putting their hands up.”
If this politically and socially motivated spiel sounds surprising, it shouldn’t. For those of a certain generation, Little might still be Joe Mangel, the loveable loser he played on Neighbours (“It was like a Frankenstein’s monster, it fucked everything up, people only wanted to hear about Kylie and Bouncer, they didn’t want to hear about what I had to say…”), but the 52-year-old started out on the comedy circuit 33 years ago in Melbourne. Even then, he found himself blackballed for his political routines.
After arriving in the UK in 1992, disenfranchised with the comedy scene in his native land and keen to find fresh ground and audiences on his wavelength, Little made a name for himself in the ensuing decade with shows that combined his wit, intelligence, questioning, and passion for stand-up.
“I performed all through the Eighties in the pubs and clubs doing the comedy that I do now,” he recalls of his embryonic years.
“It was hard work, and it got to the point in 1990 when I’d had enough. I was sick of it and of the drunk audiences. I wanted to put my comedy in a theatrical environment, so I brought it over here and they loved it.
Then I moved to the UK and did this throughout the Nineties, going to Edinburgh every two years with a new show.”
He visited Scotland’s culture capital six times, covering a variety of themes, topics and styles, including 1999’s critical and commercial knock out Spontaneous Human Combustion.
“It was all about the era of Quentin Tarantino, Prozac, and handguns,” he recalls. “All those shows were a little epoch of what was going on at the time.”
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