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'The Mark Thomas Comedy Product' is one of my all time favourite TV shows. The eponymous Mark Thomas is a true genius, and a great example in exposing and changing the behaviour of the people who work in either politics or big business from a global level to a parish level.
TMTCP has elements of stand up, storytelling, satire and documentary with some audience participation. Mark Thomas could be seen as the English Michael Moore with maybe more focus on politics and less on comedy.
Although TMTCP has some aspects which do feel dated so many issues are still current it is still entertaining and educational. After re-watching this show recently I looked into many of the issues that were bought up and there is an odd contrast with some issues having been resolved and others still being major concerns with either less or more prominence in the media.
The first series of TMTCP has a more jovial tone and is definitely a lot lighter. As the show reaches its climax the issues become graver with the final episode focusing on arms dealing. The arms Dealing episode was the source of Mark's book 'As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela' and a dispatches special 'After School Arms Club.'
TMTCP is pretty difficult to get hold of now days but there are some great bits on YouTube, I would recommend watching the Yusufeli Damn or Qango State episodes. If you like TMTCP I would not recommend 'Serious Organised Criminal' his live DVD as it is not a good introduction to his work. Both of Marks books are fantastic and offer serious information in a manner that is accessible. I also saw Mark live at Reading Festival one year and it was one of the greatest live comedy shows I have ever seen. If he is in your town go along and watch him and you won't be disappointed.
The ‘Mark Thomas Product’ recently returned to our tv screens, aired at 11pm Wednesday nights on Channel 4. The shows are filmed the Sunday before at The Bedford pub in Balham, South London. Mark Thomas combines comedy and investigative journalism to expose hypocrisy and wrong-doing in high places. He brings matters you would never usually think about to our screens and is able to communicate complicated, dry issues in an accessible, entertaining way so you can relate to them. Obviously to those that he is aiming his aggravation at, Thomas is viewed as nothing more than a tv-trouble-maker and agitator. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a political comedian who is still funny. Together with a team of researchers Mark investigates a different story each week, explains the background, airs any direct action taken and the culprit’s response and explains what viewers can do to become involved. In last night’s show he became an arms dealer in 7 days: he managed to negotiate a deal for exporting 200 MP5s (Heckler and Koch, sub-machine guns) to Zimbabwe via various channels. Pretty complicated to explain the full story here, but there’s a full run-down on the website. Other issues covered this series were corporate killing, the Quango state, drug dumping and organophosphates. I know this all sounds heavy stuff for a 30 minute comedy show, but Mark Thomas’ ability to aggravate and expose the wrongs of huge corporations, government institutions and even the military makes for interesting and humorous programme. This ‘experimental comedy’ works and it may just open your eyes! In the past, the show has offered many priceless tv moments such as the kidnap of L!ve tv’s News Bunny; presenting a tankerful of water to Yorkshire Water, as a gift from the people of Ethiopia; and the request to William Waldegrave to help sell a tank to Iraq among many others. I d
on’t agree with many of Mark Thomas’ political beliefs and I do think that you’re only getting one side of the story much of the time, however I do enjoy the programme; it certainly makes you think and brings a laugh with it. You can email the show with any issues/stories that might be of interest: firstname.lastname@example.org