The ALMANAC experiment

The Classic Studio, 321 Queen St, Auckland

06/03/2013 - 09/02/2013

Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington

28/02/2013 - 02/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

NZ Fringe Festival 2013

Production Details


Auckland comedian Mark Scott’s the ALMANAC experiment” debuts in the Wellington Fringe Festival 28th Feb – 2nd March 2013 at Fringe Bar, then the Auckland Fringe Festival 6-9th March 2013 at The Classic Studio.

Multi award winning stand up and improv comedian Mark Scott (aka DIY John and Improv Bandit) has created a new hour of anti-doomsday fun.

His live “domestic survival” show offers some wicked old school tips on how to survive a modern life with its ever increasing stress levels.

Mark says, “it all started when I was a child and my father gave me a ‘how to’ book called an Almanac. It was full of all sorts of seemingly unrelated things. Page seven was how the universe began and page eight was how to run an egg and spoon race. Page nine was probably how to tie a Windsor knot or survive a hurricane. I didn’t know what dad’s giving me this random book meant, but I knew it was important. Only recently did I realize that my wise father, having witnessed the randomness of life, had gifted me this Almanac to prepare me mentally for every eventuality.”

Growing up in the farming community of Putaruru and enduring numerous family camping trips with homemade tents, bamboo fishing rods and wet matches, Mark was given plenty of opportunity to put some of his newly acquired knowledge to the test.

Paying it forward, Mark Scott is now excited to mentor your future at your own risk in this newest stand up offering, “the ALMANAC experiment”.

The show is perfectly pitched at the studio stage of The Classic Comedy Club, NZ’s only dedicated comedy venue. It will be fully primed for Auckland audiences, following immediately on from a debut season in Wellington.

Mark has been invited to perform around 60 fringe festivals world wide along with three televised Comedy Festival Galas.

Don’t miss this uniquely hilarious, touching and charming new show before it disappears across the globe in it’s journey to a string of Canadian festivals.

Wellington Fringe runs from 15 February to 9 March 2013. For more Fringe information go to

Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to  

the ALMANAC experiment plays

Thu 28th Feb – Sat 2nd March @ 10pm
Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivien Streets, Wellington CBD
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: Full $18, Concession $14 *service fee may apply
Cash only door sales

Wed 6th – Sat 9th March @ 8:30 pm
Classic Studio, 321 Queen Street, Auckland CBD
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: Full $20, Concession $15 *service fee may apply
Bookings: 09) 373 4321 Website:  

1 hr

Delightfully clever

Review by Nomi Cohen 07th Mar 2013

A small crowd didn’t discourage Mark Scott from bursting on to the stage full of energy, ready to take us on a journey. Mark has wittingly crafted a survival guide inspired by the one he received from his father as a child so that we have a better insight into all kinds of situations that he feels we are not prepared for. 

Although most of the survival techniques require him to delve back into his childhood in the 60s and reveal how this compares to the current generation, his stories are still fully applicable to all ages. I was probably one of the youngest audience members and I was in hysterics.

I mean everyone knows someone – or has at least heard of someone – who has completely annihilated themselves on the metal frame of a trampoline before they had even thought of the nets.

Since the Almanac is the sort of survival guide that doesn’t necessarily have any sort of common theme, there is a chance to learn how to do some crafts. We watch with anticipation as Mark teaches us how to make a replica WWI fighter plane with a collection of general household items including a tea towel and some beans.

The show is broken up with a few original songs that are delightfully clever, giving Mark a chance to show off his excellent guitar skills. Clearly this man has many strings to his bow. Mark is very good at connecting with the audience and breaking that barrier that only the best comedians can overcome.

I felt fully engaged but never harassed and could have easily watched another set. Some content and language may offend, but nothing was vulgar or uncalled for. Only a short season and a small space, so don’t miss out as this is definitely a must see. 


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Questionable material and delivery from likeable character

Review by Nancy Catherine Fulford 02nd Mar 2013

The Almanac Experiment by Mark Scott is based on an idea with some potential. That is introducing the almanac as an umbrella framework for delivering a series of alphabet sequential short stories designed to lead us to the funny side of things.

Almanacs are, after-all, already entertaining by virtue of the weird and wonderful bites of information that sit next to one another as well as an easy bridge over into an earlier era; the good old days.

However it might be said that the three most important things in comedy are the delivery, the delivery and the delivery. Not altogether true, in the same way location is not really the only factor in making a sound real estate investment, but we all understand the weight it carries. Sadly the delivery is not up to it; occasionally yes, but generally no, and certainly nowhere near enough to justify the hour plus we are there, being experimented on in my view.

This would have been fine if we’d been invited in to help workshop The Almanac Experiment, aspects of which I do enjoy, granted, but all up buying a ticket doesn’t seem an altogether fair deal. On the bright side, our host has a very easy way about him and his relationship with the audience is a real strength in this evening’s performance. 

The first thing Scott sets to is locating the audience and himself in time and space through a conversation about where we are from and which decade we belong to. While this makes sense for building up rapport, the comedic characteristics he attributes to each decade are only occasionally fresh or original.

We are only a few minutes in when Scott introduces sexual performance as a target. (It diminishes in the latter decades apparently.) In my view Scott lacks the delivery to pull off blue material without creating discomfort. Except the penis sundial, which works. It is a mismatch not so much of material to audience as actor to material.

Mark Scott onstage is a likeable character, a favourite Uncle sort, who keeps spoiling it by swearing or telling off-jokes when grandma and children are in the room. The person I am sitting with is thinking more in terms of her favourite science teacher. This is what Scott might want to consider building his show around while cutting back the cheap shots and over-exposed material. How many times have comedians worked the airport scene? You have to have an outrageously new twist to even go near this in my view.

Which brings us to the scatological content of the show. In the same way sexual jokes are falling flat, the instances of toilet humour are cause to look down and think, “Uncle Mark, please stop, please!” Why would you bring up poo with an adult audience, and to suggest smearing it on luggage to make room in the overhead locker??? Worst thing is, now I can’t get the image out of my mind. 

However all is not lost and it becomes obvious – through a story told under F for foraging, about going tramping with a sack of dog biscuits – that Scott is very capable of writing and delivering material that is quirky and original. I think most of us also enjoy aspects of his craft lesson where we learn how to make a helicopter out of a toilet roll, a piece of celery, a knee sock and of course a rubber band.

It’s such a shame, I keep thinking, he hasn’t yet passed through the stage of developing a solid character who sticks to the good stuff because in that case I could be having a consistently fun ride.

Three times in the performance Scott picks up his guitar to sing us original songs about worst-case environmental scenarios. They are tuneful and demonstrate some of Scott’s prowess as a wordsmith but it feels like they are all a plea for something … Greater awareness? Hard to buy that message from a character who earlier is squeezing a dwarfs breast (something no one seemed to be able to help themselves laughing at).

What works is Scott’s honesty. “I guess that’s pretty glum eh?” or “Should I end there? I think I should.”

‘No,’ says someone in the audience, so the songs are appreciated. It’s just that, once again, they don’t seem to match.

To back-track, I suggested it was all about the delivery but a major issue really is the choice of material. Once Scott settles on a consistent character and weeds out anything that isn’t truly original and a good match, we’ll be away laughing.

Presumably a director or outside eye would be a big help. I wish him all the best and look forward to the reworked version.


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