Writer: Marc Lucero
Reviewer: Jon Wainwright
A very funny hour-long set, the transatlantic theme signalled by the red, white and blue backdrop of the conjoined Stars and Stripes and Union Jack flags. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” tips the mood stateside. That it’s played at low volume tips us back towards the Home Counties, where it’s best not to disturb the neighbours. The underwhelming amplification is actually down to a mix-up on the mixing desk, but in any case it’s the perfect intro to Marc Lucero, whose first confession is that he hadn’t been born anywhere near Hollywood or the New Jersey Turnpike but in low-key south London.
He was in fact a GI baby, which gives away his current age (with his sticky-out grey shock of hair, he gets mistaken for late-era Albert Einstein). This sets up the first few routines on the indignities of ageing, and on life in contemporary London. The US connection is never far away, however, as in the punchline to a joke about food miles, or when he’s singing the praises of gun crime: if it wasn’t for gun crime, he tells us, he couldn’t afford to live in Kensal Green, where middle-class white folks have learned to let off a few rounds and leave the empty cartridges outside Foxtons to bring down house prices. (Chris Morris had a similar sketch in the nineties, with the Julia Davis character stealing soiled dressings and used needles from a hospital refuse bin in order to scatter them on the streets.)
Lucero’s early encounter with Ringo Starr (who bought him a pint of lager and told him to go to LA) hints at why he’s now wearing a show-biz shirt (white hearts on a dark background) and doing stand-up in a cellar in Soho. But it’s the leopard-skin moccasins, a homage to the upholstery of the Sahara Hotel, that provide a link to the Las Vegas venue where George Carlin saved his life, figuratively speaking.
To get to this momentous turning point he tells the story of his journey to America in search of his family, and of his return to Britain via Las Vegas, where he reaches rock bottom, and where, by chance, he sees George Carlin performing at the Sahara. He discovers stand-up and a whole new purpose in life.
Carlin’s is the kind of stand-up comedy that doesn’t rely on prejudice or poking fun at minorities and the disadvantaged. He’s not afraid to tackle the ordinary and the absurd and to offend authority that sucks. Marc Lucero’s luck was in that day when he stumbled across one of the all-time comic greats, but it’s no doubt been hard work and talent that’s enabled him to emulate his inspiration, add his own individual twist and entertain us with tales of bacon-scented candles and labial reduction bins.
Reviewed on17th May