A bobby dazzler of a show with virtually no … wait for it … FLAWS!
How do you prove your energy and enthusiasm when you are a bearded and dishevelled veteran of the Fringe? Simple – start your 10thEdinburgh show by going through your paces on a walking machine, to the soundtrack of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer, before vigorously launching into a routine based on your advancing years.
And, after that opening, Mark Watson then stumbled upon a gift when he descended from his treadmill and found a particularly young couple sitting at either ends of the front row.
This started to look like a put-up job, but any cynical suspicions were banished when the “couple” pointed out they were nothing of the sort, because they were brother and sister aged 14 and 21.
Watson was confounded. “You were born in 2000!” he said. “You missed Blur vs Oasis. Have you ever seen Friends? Could you be any younger?”
But it was all friendly stuff, setting the scene for an amiably chaotic show demonstrating that Watson – in fact a mere 34 years old – is well short of being labelled a has-been.
He blended banter with some darkly comic riffs. While some of the targets may have been familiar – parenthood, life at the Fringe, the varying fortunes of the comics who started at the same time as Watson – they were all executed with a charm and sharpness so often missing from “old man” routines.
Watson recounted the time he took his son to a premiere of a Thomas the Tank Engine film. So far, so unremarkable. But then, in an attempt to recreate the apparently head-spinning impact of the screening, he unleashed a flood of balloons into the Courtyard audience.
Cue a surge of balloon-popping, as Watson no doubt expected. When the audience held onto the last few balloons, however, and then let them off at intervals for the rest of the show, he was left nervous and discombobulated.
Despite his myriad complaints, such as his nerves, his age, and his former drink-dependency, this was a comedian on top form. Watson’s flaws provide the material for a fast, clever and classy act. ****½
Review by Peter Edwards