Few comedy shows pivot on the link between Subway and Marxist theory. But when it’s Mark Steel holding the microphone, you can expect such routines told with unique wit and conviction.
Having made this transition – from discussing the bizarre experience of visiting major food outlets to recounting left-wing philosophies – anything was possible.
So, the Radio 4 regular and ardent cricket fan deftly moved from topical rants – each one seemingly spat with more venom than the last – to more personal subjects, where Steel candidly regaled the audience with tales of how his life began to change uncontrollably after reaching the age of 40.
Wry observations about fatherhood were sprinkled throughout, showcasing Steel’s sharp comic mind, but it was his politicised routines which most consistently hit the right satirical notes.
What was most impressive was that he covered many of the same topics as several other stand-ups – the economy, Gordon Brown, expectations for the London 2012 Olympics – but with added intelligence, humour and a more original outlook than lesser performers, not to mention a real passion for such issues.
This often manifested itself in him being simply very angry, and Steel in ‘shouty’ mode was clearly a force to be reckoned with.
He recalled a glorious moment of anti-war invective from Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special, a level of political honesty which he claimed has become increasingly rare. Despite the bleakness of the current climate, it was because of Steel’s winning delivery and earnest yet frustrated world view that his two-hour set was such a joy.
Hearing a man in his forties talking about struggling to comprehend the world can often stray too closely to ‘young fogey’ behaviour, but his superbly crafted gags and raft of well-researched local references ensured this was a night of brilliant comedy with a political conscience.