Live Review: An Audience With Mr Nice

23 Feb

Komedia: Wednesday, February 22, 2102.

Howard Marks is an enigma, rolled into an almighty Rizla and shrouded, literally and metaphorically, by a fog of hot air.

There’s little doubt the world’s one-time most successful drug smuggler is a born charmer and natural raconteur, and it didn’t take long for him to get the audience in the palm of his hand.

There was a quick succession of quips about his past, notably blowing the £100,000 advance for his autobiography in three months, and an argument for making cannabis available in pubs “because it makes you far more thirsty than a packet of crisps”.

As for his smuggling days, he claimed it happened without any planning or thought. This is where his show teetered on the edge.

Marks is a man with a degree and two postgraduate qualifications from Oxford; a persuasive “Mr Nice” whose outlandish excuses convinced two British juries to clear him; and a sophisticated operator who at his peak had 43 aliases, 89 phone lines and 25 companies.

Today, however, he portrays himself as always being a hapless, happy-go-lucky hippy, and belittles his undoubted intellect by doing so.

Even the die-hard stoner fraternity present could surely see that Marks has played the game all his life, thwarting the authorities for years by perfecting a variety of acts and guises, before eventually being caught and serving seven years in a US slammer. To a far lesser extent, it appears he’s having another roll of the dice with his modern-day public persona.

It’s something he alluded to when asked what his best piece of advice was. “Don’t take yourself too seriously,” he said, before giggling and ending the show.

As enjoyable as his company was, it looks like Marks is having the last laugh once again.

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