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: I'm Not Here
I would never have had Mark Watson down as the sort of comedian who’d put his name in neon lights on the stage. But here we have it, or his initials anyway, as the stage dressing for I’m Not Here.
For in the status game that is comedy, he tries more than most to convey the idea he’s on the same plane as his audience. That’s literal before the show starts, as he mingles with people taking their seats, and metaphorical during it, as he presents neuroses and embarrassments as everyday hurdles to overcome just like the rest of us, appearing neither crushingly awkward, despite the nervy delivery, nor bullet-proof confident.
Talking of planes, the story which loosely holds this show together is about him boarding a flight to Australia with a slightly damaged passport and no other way to prove his identity (hence the title), so he spent 23 hours fretting about whether he’d be allowed in to the country or despatched straight back to the UK. It’s fairly slight and the payoff modest, but serves its purpose.
For otherwise, it’s a romp through first world frustrations and concerns, from contactless payment to picky vegans. He considers his place in comedy’s pecking order, and is vaguely happy with it. What would he do with the £24,000 watch he saw one famous stand-up wearing anyway? He touches at a few greater troubles in marriage, fatherhood and the drink problem he addressed last time he was here – though of all that, absent-mindedly losing his supermarket gets the biggest laugh.
A routine about Woolworth’s flawed business model and the peculiar system we once had about getting photos developed are more mainstream, and well-ploughed, though delivered with a nice level of incredulity. Likewise, reading song lyrics literally is old-hat but almost always funny, and Watson has a great line about a monster hit – which he then undermines by wishing he’d thought of it when the song was actually in the charts two years ago…
Such self-awareness and self-deprecation reinforces that idea of being equal status, as he strips away as much of the artifice of stand-up as he can – or at least drawing attention to it where it still exists.
He’s more creative in the performance than you might think from such a casual style. He’s found a genuinely new way of doing crowd work which owes more to the non-mystical techniques of charlatan psychics (ie all psychics) than it does the techniques of Comedy Store comperes that every comic has adopted unquestioningly for the past 35 years. And his way of dealing with the 40-minute lull is a wonderfully fun, even if it didn’t quite catch alight with this midweek crowd.
I’m Not Here doesn’t have the emotive strength of Watson’s last show, Flaws, but it remains skilful anecdotal stand-up, with enough flourishes to place it a step above the norm.
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