“The definition of five-star comedy”
What is there left to say about Mark Watson? Returning to the Edinburgh Fringe once again, this comedy veteran is ready to prove he’s still got plenty of comedy muscle to flex, even if his ego hasn’t quite caught up with his skill yet.
Lit by the neon glow of his own initials, “I’m Not Here” is a journey through identity, celebrity and self-deprecation, all presented in Watson’s fantastic Bristolian twang. The best part of this performance (well, perhaps apart from the jokes) is the sheer amount of tangents Watson manages to swing down during the course of a single anecdote. He’s the comedy equivalent of a rambling great-uncle, but in the best way possible. Two stories stretched out across an hour, but it was never dragged: various twists of wit far too delicious to spoil what may have been a run-of-the-mill comedy show into an utter experience for all in the room.
And at the centre of it lies Watson himself: a man for whom fame has not come easily nor, often, recognisably. Anecdotes about famous comedian friends abound, but Watson never comes across as bitter. The type of comedy he champions is a razor-walk, but there’s never so much as a faltering step: the energy and emotional charge of his jokes work with almost Olympic precision and speed. Despite his considerable success and talent, Watson has managed to remain the ever-scrappy underdog, bruised by outside forces but never quite blown away – a refreshing contrast to the many Carrs and McIntyres in the comedy industry. The self-deprecating English comedian is a trope by now, but Watson proves he is still the undisputed master of comedic self hatred.
And, of course, this is all wrapped up in fantastic gags. The sheer density of jokes is mind-boggling, especially when none of them feel rushed or wanting for space. Watson is clearly in his element on stage, and his special brand of nervously energetic comedy is just as strong as ever. It’s always a good sign when the man sat beside you must wipe tears of joy from a face which, until Watson came on stage, was akin to a bulldog licking bleach off a thistle.
“I’m Not Here” is one of the biggest comedy events at the Fringe, and it’s well earned. Mark Watson shows once again why he’s arguably the defining personality for his flavour of comedy, without missing a damned step. This is the definition of five-star comedy.
Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 13 Aug)
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