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Mark Watson: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Last year, in this very room, Dave Gorman unveiled his new show about the overwhelming wealth of information on the web, about how he was wrongly described on websites as Jewish, and how he had an online spat with another comedian of higher profile. So it’s rather unfortunate that this year all those topics resurface in Watson’s new show.

Of course, the approaches are very different. Gorman unleashed his full obsessive nerd on the problems, full of PowerPoint wizardry, Watson metaphorically shrugs about what a rum do it all is, while worrying inordinately about his own social awkwardness and mental state.

Watson also has a more lackadaisical approach to things like structure and momentum of a show. He is the disarming everyman out for a chat. His often-confessed compulsion to provide a running commentary on the events in his life – and in the room – providing friendly fluidity to proceedings.

During the show he displays a mobile number so audience members can text him, though in the event the device is little-used as he prefers to engage directly with the surprisingly underfilled auditorium in front of him. Indeed, he’s one of the great engagers of comedy, able to unite his audiences into a cohesive group who will abide with him, like few others can.

But too much kicking back to relax dilutes the impact of his routines. He’s got some fine set pieces here – about pointless lies he told to a cab driver, or about the palaver of buying a single carrot in a supermarket, or a new version of the MILF acronym – yet once each are told he stops for a bit of a chat, rather than driving the narrative on.

Some routines he doesn’t quite sink his teeth into, either: the spat with Frankie Boyle is glossed over, while a drunk, lonely call to a ham hotline is funny and revealing, but doesn’t quite zing, and the finale he wants us all to participate in is a bit too petty to fully engage, while not being quite petty enough to be a preposterous overreaction.

But while the show needs more sense of purpose, so many of the elements within it are hilarious, delivered with the epitome of geeky passion.

Review date: 24 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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