Writer: Mark Watson
Reviewer: Tom Ralphs
Originally a work in progress show at the 2017 Fringe, Mark Watson’s main Fringe show this year is a delight from start to finish. The subject matter is empathy and Watson’s desire to understand, and empathise with, everyone he meets. The nervous energy that drives Watson’s delivery works perfectly for the subject matter, and the material itself is consistently funny with nothing that feels like it’s filling time until the next big gag comes along.
Ahead of the show, the audience are asked to fill out cards with the thing about them that other people found hardest to understand or empathise with. As you enter the theatre, cards from previous audiences are displayed on screen reassuring most of the audience that, whatever they may just have written, they are not likely to be the strangest person yet to see the show.
The cards tie in with the theme, but don’t dominate the show. After picking out a couple at the beginning, they are largely left to one side as Watson effortlessly switches between a variety of topics including being on the list of the fifty sexiest famous Jewish people, his mum’s knowledge of the real identity of Banksy, and responding to the demands of his son’s school to give reasons any and every time he is late arriving.
No subject matter was overplayed or stretched too far and the show was further enhanced by the involuntary remarks made by a member of the audience with severe Tourette’s. These could easily have distracted him, but Watson acknowledged them from the outset and incorporated them into his set. His decisions on which remarks to respond to, and how to respond to them, showed a comedian with a real mastery of his craft as well as someone who seems to have no problems empathising with people, whatever he says to the contrary.
If you’re looking for a masterclass in comedy, this is the show to see. In a word, excellent.
Runs until 27 August 2018 | Image: Contributed