altGenuine psychological frailty is perhaps not the best personality trait upon which a stand-up comedian might build an act, but then Mark Watson has never really seemed entirely sure of what’s good for him. Appearing as the voice of various adverts has seen his credibility plummet over the last year or so, so much so that his high profile selling out became the object of scorn for many comedians about this time last festival. But this is supposed to be a review of the show, right? Why am I banging on about adverts? Well, surprisingly, Watson repeatedly evokes these adverts during this intensely introspective routine about growing up and accepting one’s responsibilities, and honestly, it almost ruined the show.

It’s clearly important that he addresses this problem, but when he does so he lacks conviction, justification, or any sense of regret. If that’s fine by you then fair enough, but for me it added an uncharacteristic and unexpected smugness and arrogance to the performance, that made his usual fragility come across as quite calculated, so negating much of the sympathy he needs to maintain our attention.

Yeah, I’m being mean, and if it wasn’t for those moments, and a few very weak spots of bog-standard observational comedy, then the routine would have been outstanding from start to finish. Watson is naturally very funny to listen to, and even when he’s getting sidetracked by his own thought processes, his ability to bring us back to his main narrative is a pleasure to be a part of. We all really want to like him, and he is great making us laugh, but Watson needs to figure out whether he’s in this for the money or to make people happy. Perhaps, hopefully, this show will make him realise the right way to go.

Assembly @ Assembly Hall, 5-30 Aug (not 16, 23), 10.30pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to toolbar