Mark Watson’s new show is about his relationship with his son, his relationship with his dad and his relationship with technology. In many ways, it’s also about his relationship with himself and with mortality.
All of which could suggest that Watson is now mining the same path that many comedians start to head down after they turn 40 – Watson says he is in his very late thirties, 43 – but thankfully the lightness of touch and self-deprecation that runs through Watson’s material saves it from ever tripping over into self-indulgence.
Opening the show with a non-opening as he walks into Pleasance One and stands at the side of the stage having a casual conversation with the audience, Watson immediately establishes a connection with the audience. A Fringe veteran who has been coming to Edinburgh for more than 20 years, he is like an old friend returning to catch up with people he grew up with and hasn’t seen in a while. Everyone is glad to have him back.
He catches up on what his children have been doing, including his son’s discovery of smart phones, text messaging and google searches, which has seen Watson move from being the person who is asked questions to the person who the search questions are about. The answers to ‘what is the net worth of Mark Watson?’ and ‘Mark Watson’s girlfriend?’ are both way off the mark, and far more impressive than the truth.
He also talks about the parents WhatsApp groups he is in for both of his children, which leads into commentary about the people who always join in with every conversation even when they have nothing to say. It’s clear that everyone in the audience either knows that person or is that person.
The topic of the show, and the material itself, are not as inventive and distinctive as recent shows he has brought to the Fringe. Lacking a strong central theme, it feels more like a check-in and a conversation than a show where everything gels together.
That said, there is still more than enough to satisfy the large audience and justify Watson’s billing as the main slot on one of the main stages at the Pleasance.
Pleasance Courtyard, to 27 August (not 15, 17, 21, 22 August)