Mark Steel is angry. That isn’t a new thing, as anyone who’s followed the career of the long-time Radio 4 favourite will know, but on his latest tour Steel wasn’t just irate about the current state of UK and world politics, but also had lots to get off his chest about his personal life too.
Titled Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright, this show found him in a slightly different mode than usual, flitting between exasperation at what’s going on in the world and picking at the things about the modern world which confuse and frustrate him, along with tracing the decline of his marriage.
That was a lot to fit in so it’s not much of a surprise that the show lasted roughly three hours. Throughout that time he offered a unique spin on such well-worn topics – and easy targets – as Brexit, the UK government and Trump, never opting for easy barbs when a neatly-crafted line would do. Such singular insight is one of the things which has long made him stand out from other left-wing comics with politics-heavy sets, and that was still the case here, with clever gags and inspired satire playing to the audience.
In more recent years and tours, Steel has shifted the emphasis of his material from current affairs and party politics to the locales he visits, with his …In Town live shows and Radio 4 series. It’s less common, though, that his personal life bleeds into his shows as much as it did here, with his marriage and subsequent divorce providing a much more relatable through-line. As critical of himself as of his ex-wife, no detail was left unturned in his quest for mining every laugh possible from the situation, such as his former partner’s chosen breed of dog, which formed a central part of a larger routine.
The denouement, highlighting why everything eventually comes back to money, made a slightly clunky attempt to draw together the two strands of the whole – the personal and the political – but the voyage to get there made for a thoroughly entertaining show.