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Mark Watson: Do I Know You?

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Julian Hall

As it has been a little while since I have seen Mark Watson, I wondered if his metamorphosis as a comic has gone beyond ditching his faux Welsh accent. In the back of my mind I wondered if, in the interim, he'd become more assured and less angsty?

As the audience walk in to the venue, Watson is already standing on stage typing on his laptop, making ‘funnies’ that are amplified by three big screens behind him. This seems to suggest the kind of ebullience I suspected and the show hasn't even started yet. When it does, however, I am relieved to find that Watson is neurotic and as erratic as ever.

I buy into Watson's fragmented thinking more than most comics and the reason is because every leap and departure finds a laugh or amusing thought at the end of it. So, it is worth bearing with him as he pretends to be like his hero Derren Brown in divining where in Italy and France some of his more 'exotic' audience members are from, or comments on the more exuberant laughers in the front rows.

I can't blame them for having their funny bone tickled so, as Watson's wild-eyed neurosis is engrossing, warm and witty, almost like a more mobile and expressive Woody Allen but relying more on the force of observational asides than rigid punchlines.

Albeit slightly obscured, Do I Know You?, has Watson worrying about his legacy and his impact on the world, he's no Barack Obama he says, and certainly no Derren Brown, who he worships in almost stalkery proportions. What these men offer that attracts Watson is gravitas: shouldn't we be serious when we know that life is so fragile and that the lingering prospect of death can really put a downer on a picnic?

Luckily, Watson is able to derive some comfort that his job does means something, giving him a platform from which to highlight bad habits (such as people who spit in the street) and so the bitter aftertaste of, say, doing a Magners ad, can be consigned to history.

Watson could have said so much more than he did but what he does say carries with it as much spirit as it does wit and this show has been one of my favourite hours, among many well-spent ones, on the Fringe this year.

Review date: 26 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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