Mark Banks launched his stand up comedy career in 1985 and since then has been a feature of SA stand up comedy and reviews across the country. A winner of the Comic’s Choice Lifetime achiever award, he might be forgiven for deciding to take it easy, but chatting to the prolific comic one never gets the sense that he is hoping to stop sometime soon.
“There is so much comedy. Too much comedy. It’s everywhere. You can watch comedy in your local butcher shop, and everyone has the same opinions. Everyone is talking about weaves,” he says.
It’s an interesting start to a conversation about his own new stand up comedy show, which is running at the studio theatre at Monte Casino until the 30th of June. Called, “Mark Banks on ice”, Banks promises the show will take on what’s going on in the country today, in a way that other comedians are simply not doing.
“It’s a show that will update constantly as the situation changes. The jokes on the first night, may not be the jokes on the closing night. It’s a living thing,” he says, before admitting it does not take place on ice.
“We actually wanted the poster to say that it was ‘a nice’ show, but it came back with the typo, “An ice show” so we kept it,” he says in his trademark straight-faced way wherein one is never sure if he is really joking. “There is no ice. No feathers. It’s just me for 80 minutes. There is one light change,” he says.
Despite his flippant attitude, it’s clear Banks has spent a lot of time wondering how to make the art of stand up a little different. His material has always been its own kind of beast. He is an absurdist, who is unafraid of expertly guiding audiences from simple observation to the point where they are roaring with laughter at the patently ridiculous, and now that he is specifically trying to distance himself from the stand up of others on the circuit there is little doubt his material will not come from the same sources you see everywhere else in the country. Theatre-goers can definitely expect experimentation, a little chaos and something out of the usual if they go to see the show.
“Ultimately I think I want to go back to review. I love the theatricality of it,” Banks says. “I am working on a comedy stage play. I never want to be out of comedy, I just want to do comedy that’s different.”
Mark Banks on Ice will be on at the Studio theatre at Monte Casino until June 30. Buy your tickets here.