Mark Watson: Search | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Mark Watson: Search

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Excuse us for adding to Mark Watson’s digital footprint. Search is ostensibly about the sheer amount of information already existing in the world and how the comic has recently lost his status as an all-knowing oracle for his son, having given the 13-year-old his first phone. And, of course, one of the first things the lad googled was his dad.

This watershed triggers broader fears of impending redundancy in the comic as the teenager becomes his own man, also inspiring fortysomething Watson to think of his own father - a retired chemistry teacher with zero online presence. 

The former Taskmaster contestant’s fears of inadequacy, always bubbling under despite all the tangible evidence of his success, are heightened when Google suggests: ‘What is the point of Mark Watson?’ as an autocomplete.

He’s so insecure that a withering comment from an arrogant customer back when he worked on a supermarket checkout as a youth still haunts him to the point his whole life and career could be driven by the need to prove him wrong. Is the constant, hilarious, self-deprecation his way of mocking himself before a meaner-spirited outsider does?

 Such anxieties lend Watson a vulnerability that the audience can identify and may explain his fast delivery, powered by a nervy energy that packs in the content with overlapping stories and digressions gabbled out in a race against the clock. ‘We haven’t got time,’ is a constant refrain.

His running commentary on the gig, a trademark Watson move, always adds an ‘in-the-moment’ air, starting from when he chats to the audience as they take their seat, blurring the line between the on-stage comedian and the real him, adding to the authenticity. In an amusing aside, he imagines himself as a football manager and his jokes the players he sends out to play.

Revealing a bit more about his family life, he speaks of his seven-year-old daughter and the complications that being divorced brings to his life, though you suspect that whatever the situation, the ever-fretful Watson would find complications where there were none. And there’s also commentary on everyday technology beyond Google, such as the parent in the school WhatsApp group who just can’t stay silent.

You could level the same comment at Watson, but at least he’s got plenty to say. More, perhaps that can be jammed into an hour that nonetheless provides an entertaining voyage into his worries, relatable but exaggerated.

Review date: 28 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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