A former Cambridge Footlighter, Mark Watson first made an impact on the comedy circuit in 2002 when he won the Daily Telegraph Open Mic competition andwas a runner-up in So You Think You're Funny?
He has become known for his Edinburgh shows (2005's 50 Years Before Death And The Awful Prospect Of Enternity was nominated for the Perrier) and his gruelling shows that last more than 24 hours. Perrier's successor, the if.comeddies, awarded the panel award for best capturing the spirit of the fringe, in 2007.
Watson won the Chortle award winner for innovation in 2005, when he was also nominated for best breakthrough act, and was nominated for best compere in 2007.
He is also a novelist, with his debut Bullet Points, published in 2003; has written for TV and in 2007 landed his first radio series, Mark Watson Makes The World Substantially Better.
Mark Watson Videos
Mark Watson: Flaws
This is Mark Watson’s tenth year performing stand-up at the Fringe, but it almost didn’t happen.
In the last year he had a major crisis of confidence, hating his work and having to drink heavily to get through each gig. Actually ‘crisis of confidence’ is probably too euphemistic for what may have amounted to a serious mental health issue.
Suddenly all those tales about getting irate with inanimate objects, so amusing when told as stand-up, have a darker edge if you consider them as symptoms of a psychological condition. How faint the line between quirky comic fodder and troubling behaviour from a man struggling to handle life.
Luckily, with the aid of a therapist and a cleaned-up lifestyle, Watson is much better now – and has emerged a stronger stand-up from it, too. For his experiences have made Flaws his most personal show to date as he discusses with some, but not too much, frankness what he went through. ‘It takes too much artistic energy to make things up,’ he says by way of typically self-effacing explanation as to why he’s talking about this.
He tries to create an air of friendly, breezy openness, from chatting to the audience as we file in to holding the microphone so low as not to present even the smallest physical barrier between performer and audience. His very body language, relaxed but eager, his head thrust forward on the important or funny points, is all about getting closer still.
In doing so he opens up about the funny side his problems, rather than taking us on a trip into the deep recesses of his psyche. But he now faces up to his demons on a nightly basis, reliving his darkest moment.
The breaking point? A Thomas The Tank Engine movie premiere, full of kids and noise and irritants – a nightmare which he now ropes in the audience to recreate. In his obligatory post-match analysis, Watson suggests that tonight we have been one of the more reticent crowds in this bawdy participation, but he’s made his reputation as a great conductor of fun stunts, and this is no exception.
He’s not ‘cured’ yet, of course, and he ponders how he can restore his lost confidence without ‘becoming a dick’, as so many of the self-assured are, which leads him into a commentary against lads’ mags, beautifully reducing them to absurdity.
This is typical of a show that takes big issues lightly, passing astute observations through personal experience and an extra filter of funny. Emerging from the fug of depression has only reinvigorated Watson’s work.
Mark Watson Dates
Victoria at Karushi
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Series one of his radio showCrap At The Environment, by Mark Watson A Light-hearted Look At Murder
by Mark Watson
Rhod Gilbert And Mark Watson Are Stereocomics Mark Watson: 2005 Years In 2005 Minutes
Mark Watson: 50 Years Before Death And The Awful P Mark Watson's Seemingly Impossible 36-Hour Circuit Of The World
Mark Watson, And His Audience, Write A Novel
Mark Watson: I'm Worried That I'm Starting To Hate Almost Everyone In The World Mark Watson: Can I Briefly Talk To You About The Point Of Life
Mark Watson's 24 Hour Jamboree To Save The Planet
We Need Answers: The Inaugural Festival Challenge Cup Mark Watson: All The Thoughts I've Had Since I Was Born
We Need Answers  Mark Watson's Earth Summit
Mark Watson's Last Ever 24 Hour Show Mark Watson's Unusually Enjoyable Book Launch
Mark Watson: Do I Know You? Mark Watson's Edinborolympics
Mark Watson: The Information Chortle Student Comedy Award Final 2013 Chortle Student Comedy Award Final
Mark Watson's Comedywealth Games
Mark Watson: Flaws
Mark Watson: Flaws Chortle Student Comedy Award Final
Mark Watson: Flaws
Mark Watson: Work in Progress Mark Watson's Edinborolympics
Mark Watson: I'm Not Here Mark Watson (And Friends) Take Control Of The World In 24 Hours Brighton Comedy Festival: Best Of The Fest
Twitter Comedy Night Britcom gala 2009 Mark Watson Do I Know You? tour
Mark Watson: I'm Not Here
Mark Watson: Request Stops