Rhod Gilbert And Mark Watson Are Stereocomics

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Mark Watson and Rhod Gilbert are both regular circuit comics. They are both Welsh, and they are good friends. The comparisons largely end there. Rather than play off against each other, they both compliment the others' talents finely in an interesting double-header, even if this show may not be the best vehicle for either.

The structure is fairly straight forward, with Gilbert acting as compere for Watson, leading for the latter to perform twenty minutes, followed by a very short interval and the reversal of the whole process.

Watson is a mild revelation to the comedy scene, and has been under the media spotlight this festival over his 24-hour project. As this show proves, he is also annoyingly good at stand-up and immediately endears himself to the audience assembled in this furnace.

At the end of his set, Watson apologises for not really doing much material but, in all honesty, the comic effect was the same, as his crowd interaction skills are second to few, hilariously bantering with mothers of his friends in the front row.

It was almost too good to be true, as if the entire conversation was scripted, yet his asides and backtracking were far too natural and instinctive for that to be so. Watson is like a friendly beast, moving in leaps and bounds across the stage while delivering hilarious off-the-cuff material, accentuated by his facial expressions.

Gilbert, in comparison, is far more restrained, making him a more challenging comic to engage with. Yet, this more difficult approach can barely disguise the inherent wit and blackly comic material delivered. Whereas Watson is interested in how different words sound with a Welsh accent, Gilbert discusses the death of his Grandma (with photographic illustration) during a football match with her pancreas.

He seems far less the natural performer, yet the more intelligent writer which easily compensates. There are some inspired moments, but delivered in a fashion that does not make the full impact.

The only real criticism of these two interesting comics is that the hour's format and structure does not allow either to properly demonstrate their talents. The show is not nearly individual enough to leave a lasting impression, leaving them unfairly neglected in a tidal wave of other showcases at the festival.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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