Mark Watson at Latitude 2019 | Gig review by Steve Bennett
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Mark Watson at Latitude 2019

Gig review by Steve Bennett

Mark Watson is surely a Latitude kind of comedian, with a big overlap between his fan base and the sort of liberal, curious, middle-class people who come to a festival like this. Nonetheless, he starts by saying what a difficult gig the tent is, especially in the wake of two acts who stormed it - Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Rosie Jones. Why does he say it's a hard situation? Because he has to be low status. His is the stand-up of an underdog scrabbling against the odds.

Even though it feels as if he's a regular in this Suffolk field, it's actually been three years since he was here, and a lot's happened. Primarily a divorce, the final paperwork of which has been finalised only this week, meaning he's now legally allowed to talk about it.

 The situation prompts a number of rueful asides, tinged with more regret than bitterness. But admittedly with SOME bitterness, even though he sticks to his vow not to fall into the archetype of the middle-class comedian slagging off his ex-wife.

It's another thing that puts him on the back foot, as too,  is just about everything that happens in the tent. Watson is expert at giving a gig intimacy by rooting it in the moment, and he comes down from the stage to literally get on to the audience's level, delivering his set from the security barrier, and offering a running commentary on the circumstances of his own performance.

Between the many happy distractions the tent offers, Watson speaks jauntily and urgently about subjects both serious and frivolous - from his not always healthy relationship with alcohol to the lyrics to Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy, part of a running joke about using outdated references that sail over the heads of younger audience members. This culminates in a brilliantly absurd, almost throwaway, line about the size of a bee in another story.

Talking quickly means Watson packs a lot into his 45 minutes, from exasperated, impotent fury at CenterParcs to his disbelief at finding himself on the list of the funniest Jews on Twitter.

 Underlying it all is the idea that the world can be weird and scary - but it all becomes easier if you make connections with people - a talent Watson most definitely displays on stage.

Review date: 21 Jul 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Latitude

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