Mark Banks

Based: Johannesburg

Grahamstown Festival, Mark Banks has become one of the most recognised and respected stand-up comedians of his time.In 18 years of comedy, Mark boasts at least one new one-man show each year, of which he writes and performs all the material himself.

Since his acclaimed inception to comedy, Mark has continuously played to packed houses nationwide. Widely recognised for his political satire and commonplace poke at the rich and famous, nothing and no one is sacred to Mark’s blatant humour.He says that the reason behind the silliness is that “it’s easier to look at the other side of things that don’t have another side, and if they don’t have one, invent one.”Notoriously un-PC, Mark claims to have started performing at the age of 11 when he was “able to balance an entire Zulu rondavel and its contents on his chin while singing ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’ by the then New Seekers.”

His constant banter and uncontained one-liners have often lent him undeniable praise as MC for award ceremonies, corporate functions, banquets and conferences whereby he casually digs in to all and sundry with his potent brand of Banks humour. Mark represented South Africa at the 1996 ‘Just For Laughs Comedy Festival’ in Montreal, but modestly says he was not awarded anything partly due to there being no prizes at the event. “It’s just not kind of ‘do’,” he says.

Mark whose interests range from “writing an ‘A to Z compilation book of the lemurs of Madagascar for visitors to Cape Town’ and training a coelacanth to leap through a hoop of crusty bread rolls”, to “completing a volume of works on Chinchilla Respiratory Tract Infections” in time for Christmas, also has time to “run an organic cocktail cucumber farm just outside Swellendam which is the biggest organic hydroponic cocktail cucumber farm in the southern hemisphere under asbestos and grown without water. It’s grown only on prayer.”

He also does “a lot of missionary work among the unlaughing.” Among the numerous sidesplitting performances Mark has staged, his first one-man show “Stars of South Africa” received critical reviews, as well as the utterly memorable “We’re Not On Top… We’re Inside,” of which he claims won the prestigious Epol Late Entry Award at the Gilooly’s Farm Dog Show. Mark’s latest hit is the brilliantly titled content-based “Ek’s ‘n Doos from South Africa (pronounced exodus). Loosely translated, it pokes fun at locals living abroad, and is a raucous laugh a minute.

Mark has also appeared regularly on TV as presenter or interviewee, as well as having featured in several adverts. Critics have both praised and slated him or his content over the years, but Mark’s feeling of indifference to such inanity has merely pushed and influenced his repertoire to convincingly being described “as the Grand Dowager uncle of the South African comedy underground, Mark Banks’ glittering career as the only IMAX-size joke maker in the country has served as a beacon for comedy in the 21st Century…”

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