Mark Stephenson has a lovely smile. He knows so too, and shows it off, because he wants you to know he’s happy. He’s happy with not being happy.
The 28-year-old stand-up has an expressionless, ultra downbeat style. But unlike most of the deadpan stand-up brigade, Stephenson’s not moaning about his own despair. He treats being content as the happiest anyone’s likely to get, and he has some elegant pieces of skewed logic to back up his theory.
The monotony of life is Stephenson’s main theme, tackling office work, growing up in Bromley and Paloma Faith. But as the show progresses, he becomes increasingly philosophical and political, offering serious thoughts on religion or Obama’s hypocrisy, before wonderfully undermining his points with ridiculous punchlines.
It’s not a perfect show – some long set-ups don’t quite have successful payoffs, and the ending is particularly shambolic – but ‘Half Man Half Amazing’ is a smart, remarkably assured debut, and Stephenson has a refreshingly nonchalant, deadpan charm. He’s definitely a talent to watch.
See 'Mark Stephenson – Half Man Half Amazing' at the Edinburgh Fringe
See Mark Stephenson in London
Now in its fourth year, the Balham Free Fringe is like a little pocket of the Edinburgh Fringe in south London. Where else can you catch 40 hours of comedy – for free – in one weekend? There are tons of great acts for the 2015 BFF, but we particularly recommend Sofie Hagen and Richard Herring on Friday, John-Luke Roberts, David Mills, Nick Doody and Stuart Laws on Saturday, and Rory O'Keeffe, Tim Shishodia, Mark Stephenson, Matt Winning and Tiernan Douieb on Sunday. Check 'dates and times' for the full schedule.Read more