Mark Watson’s fidgety charm is fully weaponised and mercilessly wielded in this highly conceptual, highly hilarious hour of stand up. The Infinite Show is Watson’s attempt to connect with his audience on a more meaningful level than ‘is everybody good?’
Before the show, postcards were handed out to the queuing audience. We were asked to jot down some unique/strange/contentious opinion/habit we might have with the promise that nobody would be singled out against their will.
While most of the crowd’s offerings ran the gamut between mildly amusing and wildly bemusing, the crowd itself was rather subdued when Watson ventured into the audience participation section. It’s always impressively risky to allot vast swathes of your show to a group of people you don’t know and, on this occasion, it didn’t quite come off.
This is no reflection on Watson as a comic – he gallantly fought to make every interaction entertaining – but rather on the 7pm crowd who seemed uneager to be put on the spot. For every person Watson coaxed into conversation, two or three sat silent when their postcards were read. It’s a very respectable ambition to want to connect with your audience on a deeper, and more personal level but, unfortunately, sometimes the desire doesn’t work both ways.
Watson really shone in his twitchy diatribes against Center Parcs, bureaucratic headteachers, and, most vividly, his son. In these moments, the crowd were fully aware that they were in the presence of a comic at the height of his powers. When Watson allows himself off the leash, there aren’t many who can contend with his fundamental ability to be make you laugh.
Had the show been a whole hour of Watson’s stories about his Mum outing Banksy, his sociopathic son’s desire to hunt down E.T., and the like, this review would undoubtedly earn its extra star.
Mark Watson: The Infinite Show, Pleasance Courtyard, 4-27 Aug (not 12, 24, 25), times vary, £14.50