Jokers in cyberspace

surf's up; The Web is a playground for comedians - but even comics can fall victim to pranksters ...

His recent Channel 4 series may be just a painful memory for the various MPs, Ministers and multinational corporations it lampooned, but the comedian Mark Thomas's mission to irritate continues apace on the Internet.

The series, which among other things found Thomas offering Yorkshire Water a tanker full of H20 as a gift from the people of Ethiopia, generated controversy as well as complaints to Channel 4. The Clapham comedian's Web page is likely to stir up more trouble.

Thomas isn't the first comedian to venture into cyberspace. Stephen Fry claimed to have found solace there after he dropped out of sight last year, following his departure from the West End play Cell Mates. And the American funny man Rodney Dangerfield's Web page has proved to be such a hit that the comedian - catchphrase, "I don't get no respect" - has made Websight magazine's list of the "100 Most Influential People on the Web".

While Fry found a little sympathy and Dangerfield finally got some respect, Mark Thomas seems to have tapped into the rich vein of anti-Establishment sentiment that flows through the Internet. Thomas's Web site, Scum City, consists mainly of a recap of his television stunts. However, it's the mailing list that's generating the most interest. It has allowed Thomas to enlist the support of like-minded souls who are fed up with political hypocrisy and corporate greed.

Through the mailing list, he and his partners in prank are able to exchange ideas on potential targets and discuss strategies for creating maximum mischief. E-mail debates are raging over the best ways to get under the skin of chief executives at companies such as McDonald's, Nestle and Camelot. Thomas has been impressed by the response. "It is quite surprising that people would subscribe to a comedy mailing list and churn up all the ideas and arguments that it has," he says. "The list is a really good place for ideas and knocking them about. It may also be an effective way of organising. It is also fun."

One such bit of organising involves Thomas's annoying army's plan to descend on Sotheby's London showrooms later this month to view a buffet table owned by Sir Nicholas Soames MP, who has had to arrange the special showing or risk losing an exemption from inheritance tax on the table.

Towards the end of his Channel 4 series, as his mischief-making reputation grew, Thomas found it increasingly difficult to carry out his pranks. He may soon find that his Internet operation will only compound the problem.

For it's not hard to imagine a legion of corporate lawyers surreptitiously signing up to his mailing list. Thomas is aware of the potential problems. "The bigger scams that involve work which relies totally on surprise will not be put up [on the mailing list]," he says.

Stephen Fry, meanwhile, seems to have lost all interest in his own home page, which he admits was undertaken more for therapeutic purposes. And Rodney Dangerfield's page itself has fallen victim to pranksters. Last November, a group of hackers called Chaos Merchants managed to hijack it and alter its content.

Mark Thomas and his e-mail mates at Scum City should be on their guard. And so too should the nation's politicians and corporate fat cats.

8 To join Mark Thomas's mailing list, send an e-mail with the word "subscribe" in the subject field to markthomas-request @venus.co.uk. An archive of the list can be found at http://alt.venus.co.uk/hypermail/markthomas. His home page is at http://alt.venus.co.uk/markthomas/Welcome.html. Stephen Fry's home page: http://www.gbnet.net/stephenf. Rodney Dangerfield's home page: http://www.rodney.com.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: New Business Development Manager / Sales - UK New Business

    £24000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

    MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

    Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

    MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

    Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

    Recruitment Genius: Time Served Fabricator / Welders - Immediate Start

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fabricator welder required for ...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific