Dictionaries disagree, but “likable” is spelled S-h-u-n-o-c-k.
First name: Mark. Occupations: Loony “Lonny” in Rock of Ages and good guy with a good heart. My own ticker has a soft spot for the effusive Canadian thespian, born of a delightful day hangin’ with him— lunching, shopping, show-prepping—for a Vegas Seven feature last year.
That said … Mark. Babe. Dude. Pussycat. Let’s discuss your side gig—the charity star-jam, Mondays Dark, at the Hard Rock Hotel, every third Monday of the month. Guiding/narrating Rock? You rock, man. Doing likewise here? Closer to a clumsy polka.
Mistake me not: Mondays Dark is a noble invention—a showcase, organized by Shunock, of major Vegas talent, each time benefiting a different charity, such as AFAN, Opportunity Village and, most recently, St. Therese Center HIV Outreach. Charities are lined up through November. Bravo, Mark: You’ve woven yourself beautifully into the fabric of the community. And that last blowout boasted a killer crew—the casts of Jersey Boys, Million Dollar Quartet and Rock of Ages, Anthony Cools, Murray Sawchuck, Savannah Smith (Vegas The Show) and Jamie Lynch (Fantasy).
Yet your show suffers from haphazard hosting, Mark. Granted, an off-the-cuff vibe powers this hearty party—but there’s loose, then there’s sloppy. Words like “charity’ and “fundraiser” don’t guarantee you won’t alienate an audience.
They stuck with you last time. They won’t always.
“If you don’t know how excited I am, YOU HAVE NO IDEA!” you shouted. Therein may lie the problem—too much passion juice.
Perhaps it was the Freddie Mercury/Queen theme this last go-round and your obvious fandom that left you flustered. Paying tribute to Mercury’s dignity as he died of AIDS, and his music-first devotion, you fawned and fumbled so effusively—droning on about his courageous saintliness five (yes, five) times—that “Bohemian Rhapsody” probably took less time to compose.
Breaking into giggle fits is fun, but stops being amusing for us long before it does for you. While improvising is undoubtedly one of your acting skills, your ad-libbing here has a herky-jerky awkwardness. We’re unsure whether to laugh because it’s funny, which mostly it isn’t, or because we don’t want to make you—and us—uncomfortable.
Conducting an auction for Rod Stewart tickets and a meet-and-greet, you got lost—the audience knew who bid what better than you did. You got ever-so-briefly pissed—whether at us or yourself wasn’t clear.
Tighten the screws, Mark. Stick to prepared intros until you’re more seasoned at this and feel comfy going off-script. Reveal your excitement, but keep it grounded—you don’t have the luxury of joining us in the crowd. You’ve got to herd the sheep (excuse the expression) onstage. When you feel something getting away from you, such as the auction, slow it down. We’ll follow the tempo you set.
Your goofy hipness, your vise-hugs with performers, your irrepressible likability—you’re an endearing, invigorating presence, Mark.
Just keep it cool. Because you are.
Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.