Mark Watson: Can I Briefly Talk To You About The Point Of Life

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

When he was young, Mark Watson wanted more than anything else to be a sports commentator.

It’s an obsession that led to habits he’s carried into adulthood. Most notably, he can’t help but offer a blow-by-blow account of his own show, as he’s actually performing it. As the internal monologue spills out into the real world, he’ll pass comment on how the gig’s going, the precise nature of the laughs from the audience, or express surprise at saying things he hadn’t expected to say.

In the real world, such behaviour can land him in trouble, as he recounts in a couple of lovely, self-deprecatory anecdotes. But in a stand-up gig, it adds a wonderful sense of spontaneity, especially combined with his babbling delivery that seems like a stream of consciousness, which it almost is, but actually allows him to pack an awful lot of material into his hour.

The show is based, loosely, on his experiences at his last birthday. A religious recruiter in the street asked him the question of the title, and Watson started pondering it. In his overanalytical mind, everything in that otherwise unexceptional day, from a train ride to buying a peach in a supermarket, took on a great significance. But then, as he confesses in another admission, he’s always been one for taking things too seriously, writing a suicide note after losing a game of Connect 4 as a chid.

Throughout the show, Watson skilfully combines his personal experiences with opinions on the greater state of society, but it’s done so subtly you’d never notice. This bright, pacy, eloquent comic is no polemist – to such an extent that the answer to the great questions of existence his title suggest is nothing more than love and empathy – but the message seeps subtly through.

Every pertinent tale is told with brevity, wit and a sense of humanity. Watson’s so often the butt of his own routines, ending up humiliated when his heart was in the right place. But against these embarrassments, he achieves small moral victories for the good against the selfish. The expertly-told routines make you feel good, the underlying ethics makes you feel even better.

Thank God – or nearest equivalent – that’s he never achieved that childhood dream of commentating on sport, and chose to commentate on life instead.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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