Mark Watson is back in Edinburgh on a bigger stage (Pleasance One at the Pleasance Courtyard) after a successful last August, when he rounded his Festival Fringe off with the if.comedy Panel Prize award. This year Mark Watson is back with another monstrously long titled Fringe show, ‘Can I Briefly Talk To You About The Point Of Life?’.
The show loosely follow a day in the life of Mark: his 27th birthday, when asked the meaning of life by some random guy on the street. Loose is the right word for the show, as for the most part it’s a recital of genuinely funny, random, stories. The simplistic ending i.e. a trivial answer as to the point of life is further evidence that the plot has been devised to merely hold the general structure of the show together and provide useful memory props, rather than adding a true theme to the production.
The genuine side splitting laughter arrives during such moments as Mark describing his nemesis at Somerfield who, no matter how small the purchase, insists on placing it in a carrier bag. This has now turned into a battle between Mark wanting to save the world and the guy at Somerfield wanting to ruin it. On numerous times through his set Mark takes an insignificant event and describes it has having lasting consequences for world peace.
Mark Watson has a great comedic ability to take small detail from day-to-day life (such as status updates on the social networking site Facebook) and make the audience cry out with laughter, at just how ridiculous these are once analysed. Parts of his set plays on recurring themes, like Mark having the urge to commentate on others lives e.g. yelling out “Oh he’s missed it”, when a business man missed his train. When I laughed during the show, I really laughed.
Relentless. That’s the only way to describe Mark Watson and his approach to comedy. He just keeps talking and talking, even when he seems to lose the track he’s on; it’s effortless from him to switch to another. Not even a need for water stops Mark from entertaining his audience: if anything it spurs him on. It may be that Mark is afraid of uncomfortable silences and so his blistering approach to comedy is to eliminate them. However, it’s probably just a reflection of his intense persona. Incidentally I always thought Mark Watson was Welsh, but he’s from Bristol; although his family are Welsh, which explains the accent. He’s got an endearing quality that audiences connect with and appreciate. A natural talker. A natural performer.
I enjoyed the intensity of Mark Watson’s show more last year. It was a much smaller venue so it was easier to interact with the audience This year the venue has a formal raised stage and many more rows of seats: this size dilutes Mark somewhat. He is definitely more effective when working a smaller audience. I think Mark realised this himself as he began the show sat in the audience and stood up in the middle of everyone, while (in his words) giving a pre-set to lower audience expectation for when he stepped on stage. This kind of criticism isn’t unique to Mark, but I think it’s always the case that when you’ve seen a comedian perform to a smaller audience, it’s never quite as good when it becomes larger.
When Mark started a story I knew it would be funny. Though, through a lot of the show I found myself waiting for Mark to open a new story with “Some time ago”, or “The other day”. The material in between these very funny stories was a little hit and miss and it felt like Mark was feeling his way into the next prepared recital. This was only the preview show, so I would expect the continuity and fluidity of the act to improve.
So not as good as last year, but still fairly decent. If you’ve never seen Mark before then you should head along. If asked for a rating out of five, I would reply with four.
Mark Watson is performing at Edinburgh’s Pleasance Courtyard at 10 past 9 in the evening. Tickets are still available, including the two for one ticket dates of the 5th and 6th of August.
Reviews coming soon from The Edinburgh Blog: Fuerzabruta, Lucy Porter and Playing Burton.