Mark Forward JFL42, Toronto ON, September 25
Published Sep 26, 2018As audience members filed into the main room at Comedy Bar to take their seats, we had no idea what Mark Forward had in store for us. It turned out to be a truly manic and provocative performance of his much-performed show, Mark Forward Wins All the Awards.
The customary, pre-show JFL42 canned message thanking sponsors and urging adult humans not to play with telephones while performers are performing came on, but those of us who'd heard it before couldn't help but notice it was augmented to sound different.
Before long, Mark Forward, wearing one of those omni wireless mic things that hook onto your ears with mic crossing over your cheek towards your mouth, stormed down the aisle towards the stage, engaged in a telephone call with someone. But it soon became clear that Forward's mic set-up wasn't working, which led to five to ten minutes of he and Comedy Bar wiz Mark Andrada struggling to resolve this issue, bantering back and forth amusingly, ultimately deciding, for some reason, to gaffer tape a regular microphone to Forward's head and face, to replicate the hands-free thing he was going for.
Though he played at being exasperated by this whole debacle, quickly ripping off the tape and mic, eliciting visceral pained sounds from the assembled audience who presumably had some experience with such adhesive-based audio mishaps, Forward actually dealt with the tech thing rather calmly. Or, as calmly as his manic performance style would allow him to.
Actually, because he's such a misdirecting comedian who often hints that he has great contempt for his audience (on this night, he repeatedly berated us for being a shit crowd who didn't appreciate him and his work), it became difficult to determine whether the whole thing wasn't some meta part of the show. That embittered streak made Forward's set a random affair, designed to test its audience's patience and comedy IQ.
By the end of the show, Forward, emotionally and physically drained, seemed in need of a rest. We too were spent, leaving the space to contemplate this strange and affecting hour about life and what's worth celebrating about it.
Editor's note: This review has been slightly altered (read: completely rewritten) to better reflect our attempts to do a good job of this. Exclaim! regrets the previous attempt.