Best Spoken Word winner, Greater Manchester Fringe 2018. Marlon’s a Jew. This didn’t bother him much until he discovered that some people he knew didn’t believe the Holocaust happened. From 9/11 to shape-shifting lizards and Holocaust denial, this is a darkly comic tale of one man’s journey through the conspiracy underworld. Marlon explores why conspiracy theories are more popular than ever, how fake news gives fresh currency to ancient slander and how this all relates to current issues in the Labour Party. He is in Edinburgh for the Fringe with his show, Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale, and spoke with The Fountain about how it all came about, and his plans for the Fringe.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
Yes exciting, daunting and terrifying at the same time.
TF: Conspiracy Theory certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale is a black comedy; a one-man multi-media piece of storytelling. The show tells the story of my journey through the conspiracy underworld. After I noticed a rise of conspiracy thinking and extremism back in 2016 I wanted to understand why it was happening or where is was coming from I set out to find out. A Lizard’s Tale tells the story of that often bizarre and terrifying journey. In a time when our politics has embraced the extremes and a deep distrust of authority is becoming the norm, I felt now was a good time to dissect where conspiracism comes from, how it’s often informed by our prejudices and why this often leads to the scapegoating of minority groups. But as some conspiracy theories are just so ridiculous, the show is also very silly. According to one poll, 4% of Americans believe the world is secretly controlled by shape-shifting lizards (and a further 7% “aren’t sure”), there’s a few songs and plenty of laughs.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
Well I’m Jewish, albeit a non-observant secular Jew who lives apart from the Jewish community. That was until I found out that some people I knew didn’t believe the Holocaust happened. I realised that this was a real problem in society and I wanted to explain where this stuff comes from, where it leads and try and make people laugh in the process. There’s a lot of misconceptions about what antisemitism is and what conspiracy theories are. But you can’t understand one without the other
The show is presented in a Dave Gorman-ish kind of style. I have been described as “The Jewish Dave Gorman” but only by myself. And A Lizard’s Tale doesn’t only deal with anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, for example according to a recent study, 30% of Brexit voters believe that Muslims are trying to replace the white British population, a conspiracy theory originating in the French far-right circles but horrifyingly is now mainstream in Britain. So the show looks at that too.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
Well I’m at the Fringe for a full run so the plan is to aim to really look after myself at the beginning, keep in shape then after two days sack it off and go on a three week bender. Seriously though, it’s a marathon, not a sprint so unless you are on the right side of thirty my advice to first time performers is to conserve energy, keep fit, get some got good sleep in the early part of the festival because otherwise it becomes a real slog towards the end.
This is my third time at the Fringe. I was first here in 2014 in a play called The Curing Room, with featured seven men onstage for 80 minutes completely naked. It told the true story of seven Russian soldiers, stripped naked and locked in the basement of a Monastery for 39 days and forced to eat each other. So I’m really looking forward to coming back to the Fringe not looking emaciated, fully clothed and without having to simulate the consumption of raw human flesh. Generally makes the Edinburgh experience more pleasurable I find.
Very much looking forward to Grimefullness: Joe Jacobs. He’s definitely the best Jewish grime, hip-hop stand-up comedian at the Fringe.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Conspiracy Theory?
Keep doing the show. It’s been performed at political conferences and events, as well as theatres so just keep motoring on with it. Hopefully an official tour of regional theatres will occur at some point so watch this space. Not other spaces. Otherwise you won’t notice.
You can see Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale at Just The Tonic at The Charteris Centre from 1st – 25th August (Not 12th) at 17:20. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com